Hot Irons Finish Leaves Hathern Flat…
Hathern FC 1-1 Barlestone St Giles
|2 X 8= THE SKIPPERS & THE TOSS...|
The first period of this game, played in mid-May sunshine on a hard pitch sprinkled with dandelion stalks, was forgettable, if goalmouth incidents are what you look for in a soccer match. Take out two wayward finishes by Hathern’s skipper Sam Gee and midfielder Jay O’Neil, both of which flew horribly off target, plus a free-kick by Gee which at least forced a catch from Saints’ goalie Luke Gibson, the hosts fashioned hardly anything. The guests were no more incisive before the interval either: a near post touch wide by Johnny Roberts, a front stick miscued header by Joel Storer to home ‘keeper Dan Owen, plus a wild Storer strike from 25 yards which veered off target were all they could conjure up in the 45 minutes. What the few spectators were left with was hustle and bustle, inaccuracy too but also some decent individual performances, notably those of tricky home forward Yasim Regrag and his marker, the Saint Tom Winfield, plus Liam Walton, who battled the offensive channels selflessly for Hathern. Damian Irons was often seemingly smooth in possession at left-back for the visitors, George Hickling was lively in the Saints’ attack, whilst both skippers, Gee and Dave Roberts were examples of commitment throughout the match.
|WALTON KICKS OFF...|
|SAINTS 3 & 8, IRONS & DAVE ROBERTS: STRONG GAMES...|
|GEE FORCES A TEAM-MATE TO HEAD-BUTT THE REFEREE...|
The opening period of the second-half continued in a similar mode to what had occurred before the interval, except of course for Hathern’s opening goal and then a miss by Stefan Bowler. Apologies to Stefan for the Hathern team-sheet was illegible for the most part and I could barely decipher his surname, reading it as Bowker at the time… However, it was the dangerous Regrag, a red rag to a bull for the Saints’ defence at times, who made the difference. A one-two with Walton was attempted by the winger but the ball was returned to him by Gee and he dribbled towards the left post, from where he beat the efficient Winfield and slipped to the byeline. He then cleverly fired a shot between the upright and the shocked Gibson into the far corner of the net.
|STORER STARTS HALF TWO...|
|REGRAG THE SCORER...|
Bowler’s miss stemmed from a left-flank free-kick which was knocked down by Irons’ chest and the Hathern man’s instant shot as he fell flew well off target. The busy Keiran King was replaced for the hosts by Alex Swift but this coincided with a decent response by the visitors. Indeed, until the final few moments, Hathern were forced back by their hungry opponents. Strangely though, most of the threat came in the final quarter-hour, after Saints’ central defender Callum Harris had glanced an offensive header too wide from a corner, something he would repeat later in the half. Following a brave dive at Storer’s feet by Owen and a caution for the over exuberant Gee, Hickling became more involved as he foraged with more freedom and found more space on the left flank. He cut inside from that wing and curled one effort wide, despite the presence of a couple of supporting forwards, before Joe McLoughlin was booked for the guests.
|McLOUGHLIN HAS A WORD...|
|WINFIELD & REGRAG: A GOOD TUSSLE...|
When the closing stages arrived, Saints were still seeking parity and first a left-side Hickling corner saw a near post shot by Harris strike home defender Jake Maden, whilst Roberts’ rebound effort was blocked well by Swift. The ball flew to Hickling on the left but Owen grabbed the forward’s delivery although he carried the ball over his byeline at the expense of a corner. Another Saints corner saw Harris again glance the ball off target. Lawrence Al-Hirari replaced home left-back Chris Stephenson before Barlestone finally and deservedly equalised.
A Hickling free-kick from 25 yards bounced as the tall Owen plunged awkwardly to his right to attempt a save but his palms knocked the ball straight out to where two opponents were lurking and it was Irons whose left boot rocketed the rebound high into the Hathern net.
|SCORER IRONS SUFFERS FOR HIS GOAL...|
A low Storer delivery was so nearly slid home by the onrushing Hickling, before the same Saint’s next shot struck a pair of buttocks and finally Roberts’ header from a Hickling corner was blocked on the goal-line, seemingly by a combination of Barlestone skipper Dave Roberts and home defender Jake Purple. From this let off, Walton and two colleagues broke onto a stretched St Giles defence and the striker released Regrag to run free but his subsequent left foot shot flew disappointingly into the side-netting. And as the game ebbed away it was the hosts again who so nearly snatched an unlikely winner. Al-Hirari miscued a shot but was flagged offside anyway and then the otherwise excellent Maden shoved a close range effort past the near post as time expired, from Purple’s low pass.
And the game ended all-square… Hathern’s Adam Porter and Maden had competed well in defence, as had the Saints’ duo Harris and Mike Hills but in fairness, despite the efforts of Regrag, Walton and Bowler for the hosts and Hickling, Storer, Johnny Roberts and McLoughlin for the visitors, the two offences were somewhat awry on the afternoon, despite the promptings of Hathern’s O’Neil and Saints’ Nathan Singh, plus those mad final ten minutes…
DAN OWEN, JAKE PURPLE, CHRIS STEPHENSON, ADAM PORTER, JAKE MADEN, JAY O’NEIL, STEFAN BOWLER, SAM GEE (CAPT), KEIRAN KING, YASIM REGRAG, LIAM WALTON.
JACK INSLEY, LAWRENCE AL-HIRARI, ALEX SWIFT, BEN TAYLOR.
BARLESTONE ST GILES:
LUKE GIBSON, TOM WINFIELD, DAMIAN IRONS, MIKE HILLS, CALLUM HARRIS, NATHAN SINGH, JOEL STORER, DAVE ROBERTS (CAPT), JOE McLOUGHLIN, GEORGE HICKLING, JOHNNY ROBERTS.
SHAUN ROBINSON, ALLAN HUDSON, ANT HURD.