Town spot on in cup
HATFIELD TOWN 2 (D Dixon, T Lloyd) BUNTINGFORD TOWN 2 (J Bitting, R Willmott) (AET, Buntingford Town win 5-4 on penalties) A TENSE penalty shoot-out victory saw Town progress to the League Cup semi-final following a fighting performance at high-flying Ha
HATFIELD TOWN 2 (D Dixon, T Lloyd) BUNTINGFORD TOWN 2 (J Bitting, R Willmott) (AET, Buntingford Town win 5-4 on penalties) A TENSE penalty shoot-out victory saw Town progress to the League Cup semi-final following a fighting performance at high-flying Hatfield. The home side started the day lying second in the Herts County League Premier Division, and had already beaten Town at home this season, but all five of the visitors' penalty takers converted their spot kicks to send them into the last four. Robbie Wilmott, Duncan Easley, Tom Wisson, John Bitting and Tim Jarman were all successful from the spot, while Adam Parker missed Hatfield's third effort to send Paul Attfield's side through. The hosts started strongly, and could have taken a third minute lead when Damion Williamson did well to tip over Lewis Field's 20-yard volley, but Buntingford gradually fought their way back into the game, with Robbie Wilmott going close with a header from Bitting's cross. The breakthrough came on the 15 minute mark when Wilmott chased a hopeful long ball and pressurised Hatfield captain Danny French into an under weighted back header to his keeper, and Wilmott nipped in to hammer home from 10 yards. Wilmott and George Garner both had efforts just miss the target before Hatfield equalised seven minutes before the break when a set play from the right caught Buntingford flat footed and Trevor Lloyd headed home unmarked from eight yards. The home side were then unlucky not to take the lead just before half time when Reade hit a post from 12 yards. The loss of Gary Christie and Garner through injury before the second half started did not unduly effect the visitors, and after a tight spell where the ball rarely left the middle third of the pitch, Town grabbed a 75th minute lead. A hopeful free-kick from Duncan Easley was lofted into the home area and inexplicably dropped by home keeper Greg Statham and John Bitting stroked the ball into the empty net from the edge of the area. Hatfield kept battling and equalised six minutes from time when Lewis Field was able to cross from the left too easily with David Dixon sending a powerful header in from eight yards giving Williamson no chance. The game entered extra time and with both teams looking a little tired on the heavy pitch, the game turned out to be a very open stretched affair but Buntingford certainly created the better chances. David Cain had a goalbound effort unknowingly blocked by Adam Parker and Will Turl brought a fine save from Statham. In the second period Bitting probably had the best chance when he ran clear through on goal but tried to lob the keeper and his connection was weak and was wildly off target. Buntingford lost Gary Smith for the last five minutes and played with 10 men after another crude challenge but the collective work rate of the visitors enabled them to send the game into penalties, where they proved perfect from the spot to reach the semi-final. Buntingford will pay the winner of the Codicote versus Sarratt game in the last four. - Town return to league action on Saturday with a trip to an Elliott Star side one place above them in the league table. Buntingford Town Youth 6 Bengeo Tigers 1 TOWN comfortably saw off a spirited Bengeo side to book a county cup quarter final tie at Barnet. With Town's pitch in a particularly muddy condition, it was never going to be a classic game but the home side controlled the game for long periods often playing well within themselves. After an uneventful opening 20 minutes the game sprung to life on 21 minutes when Town scored three goals in a four minute period. Phil Fisher struck first, volleying home a Luke Robins corner and 60 seconds later Tom Malins' through-ball was expertly volleyed in by Ashley Townsend. Will Turl added Town's third goal on 24 minutes when he reacted quickest to the keeper's parry from Townsends initial shot to convert. Malins then had a one-on-one opportunity well saved, Tim Jarman hit the crossbar and David Cain had a close range header superbly tipped over before Phil Fisher added Town's fourth and his second on the stroke of half time, converting Tom Malin's right wing cross at the near post. Buntingford started the second half well and Townsend completed a deserved hat trick with composed finishes in the 48th and 50th minutes before Bengeo completed the scoring following an error from Steve Martiniussen on 59 minutes. There was still plenty of time for Town to miss a deluge of chances with a degree of complacency shown in their finishing with a number of players missing simple, and sometimes, guilt edged chances as they dominated the last quarter of the game. Town boss Paul Attfield was reasonably happy with his side's performance: "There never looked any danger of us losing the game but we started with a pretty poor all round attitude which changed to a degree after the quick spurt of opening goals," he said. "We passed the ball well second half in difficult conditions but the standard of our finishing for periods was alarmingly off putting at times and the complacency certainly returned in the latter stages." - Town's under-16s maintained their unbeaten league form and pole position in the Eastern Junior Alliance North Division with a 2-1 victory at Ipswich based Ransomes Sports. Goals from Carlo Lawrence and a Robbie Wilmott penalty with the home team's solitary strike sandwiched in between saw Town return home with the points.