A bad week for the Blues
Spartan South Midlands League Challenge Trophy
Thursday 9th March 2017
Hertford Town 1(1) Berkhamsted 2(1)
Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division
Saturday 11th March 2017
Cockfosters 2(0) Hertford Town 1(0)
Having dropped two points to Leverstock Green on the previous Saturday the Blues went on to complete a miserable week with two disappointing defeats in the following seven days.
Their problematic week began with the very late postponement of Tuesday’s Challenge Trophy match when, for reasons that will probably never be fully understood, their visitors Berkhamsted were apparently unable to field a side. At the delayed kick-off time of 08.30 pm only six of their players had arrived at the ground and the referee had no option other than to postpone the game for two days until the Thursday. This left the Blues with three crucial games to play in the space of only five days at a time when injuries and suspensions were taking their toll.
With a top-of-the-table clash with Cockfosters scheduled for the Saturday, manager Gavin Kelsey made a number of changes to his normal line-up for the cup tie on the Thursday and saw his team stumble to a disappointing defeat with a low-key performance.
His much-changed side made a decent start to the game and had been marginally the better team by the time they had taken a 33rd minute lead. Following a long free-kick into the box, Phil Lowen picked up the ball, turned quickly and drove the ball low across the six-yard area where a covering defender turned it into his own net under pressure from Davy Edmee.
This goal should have provided the platform for the Blues to go on and earn themselves a place in the quarter-finals but, instead, they slackened off and conceded an equaliser less than five minutes later when they allowed Berkhamsted’s tall defender, Edward Canham, to head home unmarked from a corner.
Four minutes into the second half Ben Andreos had a good opportunity to restore the Blues’ lead but, when through on goal, he unfortunately drove his shot wide of the far post. This near miss seemed to have a positive effect on the visitors and for the next quarter of an hour they dominated to game and took a 57th minute lead that ultimately proved to be decisive. The Blues upped their game for the remaining minutes but their efforts came to nothing and they fell to a disappointing defeat.
Two days later, their visit to third-placed Cockfosters proved to be equally if not more disappointing. Two defensive errors at times in the game when the Blues were on top, proved to be their undoing with the result that their title hopes took a severe dent.
On a very difficult this third verses second clash was never likely to be a footballing spectacle. It was always going to be hard-fought, though, and neither side was found wanting in that respect. The opening five minutes were end-to-end stuff with both sides gaining two corners each but they were all well-defended and the game remained goalless.
Chances were few and far between but possibly the best chance of the half came in the 33rd minute when Phil Lowen he headed over the bar from Ollie Sharman’s cross. After that, and with the Blues on top, both Tommy Wade and Connor Scully also had chances to score but neither opportunity was taken and the half-time whistle was blown with the game deadlocked at nil-nil.
Nine minutes into the second half Ricky Light’s direct free kick from just outside the box brought out an excellent save from the Fosters’ custodian and on the hour mark the Blues had a goal disallowed for offside just after Tommy Wade appeared to have been fouled in the build-up.
The Blues were well on top at this stage, looking the most likely to get an opening goal but in the 67th minute they were dealt a cruel blow when a defensive slip allowed Ben Hart to put the hosts in front.
The Blues were clearly stunned by this setback but their response was positive and soon rewarded when, ten minutes later, an inspirational piece of footwork from Phil Lowen set up Ricky Light for a near-post equaliser.
The momentum was back with the Blues but there luck was out! Going in search of a winner, the Blues overcommitted men forward for a free kick four minutes into injury time and were caught on the break when their attack broke down. The home side’s Jay Rolfe stole forward and, finding himself unmarked in the penalty area, he swept the ball past Jayden Purdue for an unlikely if not undeserved winner.
The Blues will now have to pick themselves up for the visit of Sun Sports on Tuesday and set about the task of maximising their return from their last nine league games.
Team v. Berkhamsted:, Jayden Purdue, Mark Twumasi(Ollie Sharman71’), Ed Taylor, Matt Thomson, Jack Bartlett, Dan Palmer, Brett O’Connor, Phil Lowen, Dan Ferrigno, Ben Andreos(Tommy Wade 71’) and Davy Edmee(Jonah Evans 63’).
Subs not used: Glenn Draper & Mason Todd.
Team v. Cockfosters:, Jayden Purdue, Ollie Sharman, Ed Taylor, Matt Thomson(Dan Ferrigno 74’), Glenn Draper, Dan Palmer, Brett O’Connor, Phil Lowen, Ricky Light, Tommy Wade(Ben Andreos 85’) and Connor Scully(Ramone Cassidy-Sinclair 65’).
Sub not used: Jack Bartlett & Jonah Evans.
Match Report by Ray Greenall
Video © 2017 Nathan Hobley