Hartley Wintney dropped into the relegation zone following a narrow loss in an exciting game against fellow strugglers Walton Casuals on Tuesday 19th February. This came on the back of the team managing to hold unbeaten Chesham to a draw on Saturday 16th.
In Tuesday night’s match, Hartley started well and on three minutes a corner from Josh Webb saw Matt Drage head goalwards.
On 20 minutes completely against the run of play the Casuals took the lead. The ball was moved across the Hartley penalty box and the Row keeper Adam Desbois appeared to do well to push the ball away to safety. However the Casuals striker Dan Bennett went down in the process and referee Smith pointed to the penalty spot. James Ewington took the kick and scored (0-1).
Hartley responded well and laid siege to the visitors goal and on 27 minutes they pulled level. The Row were awarded a soft free kick for apparent ‘simulation’ by a Casuals player. Josh Webb took the kick which was parried by Gerrar. However Hadda Zongo following in forced the ball home from close range. (1-1).
The Row continued in the ascendancy and took the lead on 32 minutes. Mitchell Parker and Marley Ridge combined well and the latter rounded Gerrar before shooting home of the near post (2-1).
However the lead lasted just two minutes. A throw in on the right by Harry Mills saw loose play by the Row defence and Cole Brown accepted the gift and swept the ball home (2-2).
The teams went in level at half time with the Row recording 11 shots to the visitors 3.
HALF TIME: HARTLEY WINTNEY 2 WALTON CASUALS 2
Play was more even at the start of the second period and it was the visitors who had the first effort following a free kick on 51 minutes. James Ewington found space behind the Hartley defence and saw his effort deflected wide. With the Casuals on top they took the lead two minutes later. The Row defence cleared and chased out in a line. Taurean Roberts lobbed the ball over the home defence to Ewington. The striker did well to control the ball and shoot past Desbois. The Row’s claim for offside was answered with the assistant referee’s flag staying down. (2-3).
Two minutes later it was take two. A long ball from defence by the Casuals found two of their strikers completely in the clear. Again the Row claimed offside and again the flag stayed down. Ewington scored easily to give the visitors a two goal cushion. (2-4).
Hartley pressed hard to get back into the game and on 60 minutes Jack French latched onto a long pass and his lob over Gerrar went narrowly past the post. The Row reduced the arrears on 69 minutes. A Steven Duff cross field pass found Mitchell Parker. The striker held off the last defender rounded Gerrar and shot home (3-4).
FULL TIME: HARTLEY WINTNEY 3 WALTON CASUALS 4
On Saturday, the team had been pleased with their point against the on form Chesham United who remain unbeaten after 9 matches. With the match being dubbed ‘a relegation six pointer’ both sides showed signs of the ‘jitters’ in much of the early play.
With the match 1-1 at half time, it was only the score that had changed by the time the full-time whistle went as it remained all square at 2 -2.
Although the Row were a long way short of their best form in gaining a useful point, Anthony Millerick said: “It is a very tight league with so many teams scrapping for points near the bottom end. Chesham had the edge in the first half and had more possession. The Generals are very dangerous from set pieces and they threatened all afternoon. I felt it was a good point against a team that are unbeaten in nine league matches. We showed good character to come back and gain a point after being twice behind. With four home matches quickly coming up we must be looking to add to our points total but all in all pleased with the point.”