Blues suffer penalty shoot-out disappointment
Herts Charity Shield 1st Round
Tuesday 2nd August 2016
Hertford Town 1(1) Welwyn Garden City 1(1)
(Lost 4-2 on penalties)
In his first competitive game in charge of the Blues, manager Gavin Kelsey was forced to suffer the disappointment of penalty shoot-out defeat at the hands of local rivals, Welwyn Garden City. A bruising encounter that saw both teams reduced to ten men by sending-offs, also contained some highly entertaining football and showed enough evidence to suggest that both clubs will be in contention for honours this season.
The game started at a high tempo and both goalkeepers were soon into the action. As early as the third minute, Jack Metcalfe in the Citizens’ goal was called upon to beat out a Mark Summers free kick and soon after Blues keeper. Reece Buck, made a smart save at the feet of the albeit offside, James Ewington.
Both sides were showing attacking intent and the physical battle between Blues striker Tommy Wade and his marker, Martin Standon, was not one for the squeamish. The intensity of the game meant that neither team was able to find time on the ball and, with the defences on top, the opening goal came as a bit of a surprise.
Twenty-five minutes had elapsed when the visitors won a free kick wide out on their right flank and when it was delivered into the box it fell to the feet of James Ewington who drove it low into the net to give his team the lead. The Blues were clearly stunned by this goal and might have gone two down three minutes later, had it not been for a fine diving save from Reece Buck to deny Ewington after he had latched onto a cross from deep out on the right.
Moments later, the visitors’ Martin Standon picked up a yellow card for one too many foul challenges on Tommy Wade and, gradually, the Blues found their way back into the contest and started to create chances. In the 33rd minute an outstanding combination of passes between Glenn Draper, Tyler Hatherly and Phil Lowen set up the overlapping Ollie Sharman for a fine cross into the box which Tommy Wade would have converted at the far post had it not been for a vital touch from a lunging defender.
Three minutes later Mark Summers was put through on goal with a defence-splitting pass from Tyler Hatherly but his low drive was saved by the keepers’ feet before Summers picked up the loose ball and fired it home only for the ‘goal’ to be ruled out by a tight offside decision. Mark’s verbal response to the decision earnt him a yellow card that would later prove expensive.
He wasn’t to be denied for long, though, because he levelled the scores in the 38th minute when capitalised on some good work by Matt Thomson and Phil Lowen to burst onto the latter’s delicately weighted pass to strike the ball low into the bottom corner of the goal.
Only two minutes of the first half remained when a further robust challenge on Tommy Wade earnt the visitors’ Standon a second yellow card and saw him dismissed from the game. To some it appeared that Standon was possibly shown a second red for a further incident as he was leaving the field?
The second half should have seen the Blues go on to take advantage of their numerical advantage but only six minutes of it had elapsed before the numbers were levelled with Mark Summers picking up a second yellow for a tackle that appeared far worse than it really was.
Despite this, the few chances that there were in the remainder of the game, fell mainly to the Blues. Tyler Hatherly had a free kick well-saved in the 47th minute and then went close with an effort from a narrow angle, six minutes later.
As the final whistle approached, it was the Blues who looked the more likely to score a winner but it was the Citizens who came closest when Luke Robins hit the outside of a post with four minutes remaining.
The deadlock wasn’t broken, though, and the tie went to penalties with the Blues failing twice from the spot to lose by a margin of four to two. The game was a good test for the Blues, however, and they can now look forward to Saturday’s FA Cup tie at Haverhill Rovers with a degree of optimism.
Team: Reece Buck, Ollie Sharman, Ed Taylor, Matt Thomson, Glenn Draper, Jay Lovell, Lee Roberts (Adam Murad 58’), Phil Lowen, Mark Summers, Tommy Wade and Tyler Hatherly (Ricky Light 79’).
Subs not used: Jack Friend, Jack Bartlett and Jayden Purdue.
Match Report by Ray Greenall