April 24, 2018, 8:26 p.m.
Saturday, 31st March 2018, 2:30PM, at Hempnall #1
Home Match, Anglian Combination Division 3 - 2017 - 2018
Win, 5 - 3
Hempnall went into the game today on a bit of a run, determined to improve their chances of staying in the division but they were against second placed Buxton, though with perfomances improving in recent times, confidence and team spirit were high.
They were bolstered by the signing of Dean Mortimer, thanks to CBS for allowing this to happen quickly, and Oliver West who played at left back, thanks to Holt Utd for their agreement also to speed through the transfer.
Without their stalwart captain and defender Shaun Kelly, central defensive duties were given to Darren Critchlow and Tom Griffiths; the BRF had never seen Tom at centre back before.
Much to the delight of mother, skipper duties were given to number one (in years) son, Billy, who took up the role with much enthusiasm.
The game started with Buxton looking, with their speed of attack, the more likely, but Hempnall were in determined mood, we on the sidelines were pleased to see which Hempnall had turned up today, and we were treated to a very good, improving performance as the game wore on, on a wet but perfectly playable pitch.
The midfield and wide players were covering well, all the players looked up for the game, and the defence was looking in particularly determined mood.
Again, Taylor Davis in goal looked strong, speedy off his line when needed, and to give us more confidence, the Hempnall front players were breaking quickly, so all in all, the teams looked pretty even for the most part.
Half chances were being created at both ends, but after 19 minutes, the excellent George Watts, having his best time at Hempnall in midfield, shot from just outside the box, the ball dipped in front of the keeper and in it popped for 1-0.
As is now customary, Hempnall decided to let the opposition back in within a couple of minutes, conceding a sloppy goal; the ball should have been cleared but wasn’t, and we went into half time at 1-1, probably a fair reflection of the first half.
With the report writer delivering the chips to the catering manager for the day, he missed what was apparently a stonewall penalty, and came back to see the ball being picked out of the net by Davis, so 1-2 down and we thought that might be the slippery slope to defeat.
Far from it, with Hempnall’s determination, they made chances, Clarke being the man to score Hempnall’s second after a flowing move.
Clarke again went close, then Critchlow saw a header go wide before smashing the ball home to make it 3-2, and the unlikely started to look likely.
As befits a team at the top of the league, Buxton weren’t out of it, and Davis had to be alert on more than one occasion, and excellent defending by the back four ably assisted by the midfield kept Buxton out, but to be fair, Buxton could have had a third themselves.
Tired legs were allowing the younger Buxton side to put the pressure on, and Mortimer came on for his first game in Hempnall colours for 3 seasons, for Hartle, who had been credited with three assists. Mortimer added pace to alarm the Buxton defence, and a beautifully weighted ball from him allowed the fast running Kelly to score his first of the day, a very nice finish that gave the keeper no chance.
4-2, and still the game was end to end, Mortimer going close, then the Buxton forward heading over, but Hempnall, enjoying making the BRF suffer, decided to let the opposition in with 10 minutes to go to make it 4-3.
The referee decided to play 7 minutes additional time, Buxton were obviously attacking to secure the equaliser, but the determined defence and midfield kept them out, and when Etherington latched on to an excellent ball out of defence, Kelly was there to take his pass and score his second and Hempnall’s fifth.
The BRF were treated today to a really good performance, the management were buzzing, the team spirit there for all to see.
There were many good performances today, there were a number of candidates for MOM, but for the Secretary, the stand-out performance for his excellence in an unaccustomed role goes to Tom Griffiths.