Town held by Hadley in title showdown
Buntingford Town 1 Hadley 1 THE top two sides in the league fought out a draw at The Bury on Saturday in which was largely a disappointing spectacle with the conditions playing the dictating roll. A fierce breeze and rock hard pitch made good football al
Buntingford Town 1
THE top two sides in the league fought out a draw at The Bury on Saturday in which was largely a disappointing spectacle with the conditions playing the dictating roll.
A fierce breeze and rock hard pitch made good football almost impossible to produce.
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Despite Town having the advantage of the breeze in the first half they produced a largely subdued showing and lacked the required energy and creative skills to breach the best defensive unit in the league.
Hadley themselves were more composed in possession of the ball and had two early corners which resulted in free headers with one flying over and one directed straight at keeper Damion Williamson.
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Despite the amount of balls put into the Hadley area, the visitors defended well with Town guilty of not gambling enough and only had two really worthwhile opportunities to score just before the break.
First Duncan Easley's close range overhead kick went straight at the keeper and moments later when Lewis Endacott's cross was met by Mark Wright.
His cushioned header was destined for the top corner but was somehow tipped over by the visiting keeper for a marvellous save.
Hadley had already taken the lead by this time in the 28th minute when a long kick was not efficiently dealt with and leading marksman Danny Gruar was allowed too much time 20 yards from goal to place a left footed strike past the diving Williamson.
Town boss Paul Attfield changed his side at half time reverting to a 3-4-3 formation and the half-time period was productive for Town as their revitalised side took the game to Hadley from the offset.
The visitors, surprisingly, looked happy to defend their one goal advantage and offered so little going forward that Town were able to dominate territorially throughout.
The difficulty of breaking down Hadley's defensive tactics was evident for long periods but Town were more creative with the ball and opened up enough chances to have won the game.
Just three minutes into the half, Will Turl's header from a corner was hacked off the line by a defender. But the half-time introduction of 16-year-old Ricky Young was a decisive factor as the youngster began causing problems with his quick running and he scored his first senior goal on 59 minutes to level the game.
Seizing on a loose ball in the box from along throw he evaded a couple of challenges before placing a shot into the bottom left corner.
Hadley then became even more defensive with Town bombarding the visiting area, and the visiting defending was sometimes impressive but also sometimes desperate.
Town thought they had won it on 82 minutes when Tom Malins squared a ball from Jan Stephens to convert but despite vigorous protests the flag of an assistant was upheld by referee Hays.
Stephens had two further chances, one fired just wide and in the dying moments he ran onto a long ball but chipped over bar and keeper from 16 yards and the points were decisively shared.
Manager Attfield commented: "In the first half we were very poor and lacked in every department and in the context of how important the game was I was very disappointed with what I watched.
"The way we played in the first half I would have taken a draw at half time if asked, but I thought we did more than enough to win the game by full-time, with the players really turning things around well, so I have mixed feelings over the result."
Town: D Williamson, L Endacott, D Chaffey (R Young), D Easley (J Stephens), J Babbage, M Smith, C Hardy, T Malins, M Wright, W Turl, L Beaumont
- Buntingford were due to host Codicote last night (Wednesday) before travelling to Bushey Rangers on Saturday. Hertford Heath are the visitors on Easter Monday, kick off 3pm.