A bad week for the Blues
Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division
Saturday 18th March 2017
St Margaretsbury 2(1) Hertford Town 1(0)
With what was arguably one of their poorest displays of the season, the Blues surrendered three important points to their relegation-threatened local rivals, St Margaretsbury. And in doing so they wasted a golden opportunity to close the gap on league leaders London Colney who unexpectedly dropped two points at home to Leverstock Green.
Not that the Saints didn’t deserve their win; they did. They kept their shape, worked hard throughout and even overcame the disadvantage of losing Billy Murray to a red card, shortly before half-time. Former Blues, Michael Cooper and Joel Maybury, were formidable at the centre of their defence.
The opening exchanges were notable only for the number of free kicks awarded by the referee. The interruptions to play were frequent and therefore there was very little rhythm to the game. With the exception of Phil Lowen’s shot over the bar in the second minute there was little goalmouth action until the 27th minute when, completely out of the blue, a long ball forward caught the Blues defence napping and Dan Di Leito stole in to chip the ball home past a stranded Jayden Purdue and give the hosts the lead.
The goal did nothing to improve the game, though, and it continued on to the half-time break in a scrappy fashion with only the dismissal of Billy Murray in the 42nd minute, for a second yellow card, worthy of note.
The second half saw the Blues raise their tempo and look far more threatening. Phil Lowen was through on goal in the 54th minute and looked favourite to score until he was denied by a fine save from the Saints custodian. Dan Ferrigno’s long-range follow-up was well struck but unfortunately it went straight into the arms of the recovering keeper.
Five minutes later, Tyler Hatherly had a shot saved at the expense of a corner and shortly after that Connor Scully similarly had a shot tipped over for a corner. The Blues were looking most likely to come up with the next goal but, in similar fashion to the first, it was the Saints that doubled their advantage with goal against the run of play in the 64th minute. The Blues failed to deal with a long ball forward and when it broke loose just outside the box, George Beattie hit a sweetly struck 20-yard volley past a motionless Purdue.
The Blues were now truly up against it and needed a quick response if they were going to rescue something from the game. And they got it only six minutes later. Connor Scully’s corner caused confusion in the box and was poked home off the inside of a post by Mark Summers to reduce the arrears.
With enough time remaining for the Blues to pull off an remarkable comeback, they stepped up the pressure and almost immediately after Dan Ferrigno had a fierce drive deflected for a corner from which Dan Palmer headed over. An equaliser, at least, looked on the cards but it didn’t materialise because the Blues failed to muster up another shot on target. They therefore fell to a disappointing defeat that has seriously damaged their title aspirations.
Team: Jayden Purdue, Ollie Sharman, Ramone Cassidy-Sinclair(Connor Scully 61’), Matt Thomson(Mark Summers 67’), Glenn Draper, Dan Palmer, Brett O’Connor, Phil Lowen, Dan Ferrigno(Sam Ruff 78’), Tommy Wade and Tyler Hatherly.
Subs not used: Jonah Evans & Mason Todd.
Match Report by Ray Greenall
Video © 2017 Nathan Hobley