Finally a goal and a point for the Crusaders
The Crusaders Weathered the storm
Vanarama National League South – 2 December 2017
Report by Mike Hall
Chelmsford City1Michael Spillane
Hungerford Tow 1Tom Meechan
The Crusaders gained a richly deserved point at high-flying Chelmsford and were also able to celebrate a much needed league goal, their first since winning away at Whitehawk in mid-October. With injuries, illness and suspensions severely limiting the availability of first choice players to Jon Boardman and Ian Herring, Hungerford fielded four Academy players on the bench but were pleased to welcome new signing Matty Williams who joined from Evesham United and the return of Tom Meechan from his successful loan spell at St. Neots Town.
The home side ‘started like a train’ and the first 20 minutes was all Chelmsford as they created chance after chance. Daniel Green was causing all kind of problems down the Chelmsford right and it was no surprise when they took the lead on six minutes. Green’s cross was headed onto the bar but fell nicely for defender Michael Spillane and his volley flew into the roof of the net. Thomas Hitchcock then flashed a shot just wide of the post as the visiting management and supporters feared the worst. But having weathered the storm the Hungerford team started to get a foothold in the game and gradually began to nullify and frustrate the Chelmsford players. Hungerford almost grabbed themselves an equaliser when Tom Meechan almost got on the end of a corner from Anton Rogers, but the ball was cleared off the line, and then captain Rhys Tyler almost caught out the Chelmsford keeper with a cross-shot only to see the ball drift narrowly wide. Hungerford reached the half-way point still very much in the game, something that hadn’t looked likely after the first 20 minutes.
The expected Chelmsford onslaught in the second half never materialised and it was the Hungerford players who gradually grew in confidence and began to believe they could get something from the game. The Crusaders were suddenly better in possession of the ball and gradually forced the Chelmsford players back towards their own goal. The Hungerford back-line looked more secure every passing minute and the passes forward from James Clark, Anton Rodgers and Richie Whittingham began to stick. Nicholas Bignall replaced the tiring Louie Soares on 60 minutes and Dan Bailey came on for Whittingham to inject some pace into the attack and the chances began to come. With just eight minutes remaining a shot from James Clark was scrambled away by the goalkeeper’s legs but just three minutes later the deserved equaliser came for the Crusaders. Bignall outpaced his marked and put in a great cross which was gleefully slotted home by Tom Meechan to the great delight of players and supporters alike. Kallum Thomas came on to replace Tyler, who had given his all to the cause, and if anything Hungerford looked the most likely side to grab a winner as the Chelmsford players, looking somewhat unfit in the last 20 minutes, struggled to string two passes together. At the end the point was celebrated like a win and should give the management and players a huge boost of confidence going into next week’s clash with Dartford at Bulpit Lane.