Wall’s first goal seals win
Crusaders down Chippenham in the first of double headers
Boxing Day was bright and sunny in the morning, but it clouded over later and it was already raining well before the kick-off, the rain becoming heavier as the game went on, making conditions difficult for both teams.
Not surprisingly, the game never reached a high standard with the two teams cancelling each other out. However, we took an early lead only for the Bluebirds to level the scores in injury-time at he end of the first half and, with the visitors down to ten men after the sending off of Darren Mullings for a second booking, we notched the winner with quarter of an hour to go and held on to gain three invaluable points with saw us climb a couple of places in the table and ease our relegation worries.
The dangerous Andy Sandell was the first to threaten our defence with a powerful break down the left but our defence was alert and cleared the danger before we took the lead after only 12 minutes. An in-swinging Richie Whittingham corner saw Alex Wall and Will Richards go up together to nod the ball into the top corner of the net, the Chippenham defender appearing to get the final touch.
Another good cross by Whittingham stretched the Chippenham defence but the ball flew harmlessly just beyond the far post, before Sandell threatened again, his shot being deflected wide off a defender. We gained a couple more corners without really threatening the Chippenham goal, but with the 45 minutes up, we appeared to be still in control.
However, the visitors won a corner in injury-time and although a good Beauchamp save and a clearance by a defender kept the ball out, Darren Mullins finally drove the ball through a crowd of defenders to equalise.
It was a game of mixed fortunes for Mullins, however, for he was sent off for a second booking early in the second half, but although down to 10 men, the visitors continued to hold their own and Sandell always looked dangerous, whilst Gary Horgan, who hinted at retirement a couple of years ago, belied his years and put in a good shift for his side. The rain teemed down harder than ever, but although the visitors did get the ball in the net, we began to put on more pressure and Alex Wall got on the end of a good cross from Paul Stonehouse to head the winner after 76 minutes and earn a precious three points.
It had been a hard-run thing and promises to be much the same in the return game on New Years Day.
Team; Marcus Beauchamp, Rhys Tyler, Paul Stonehouse, James Rusby, Matt Williams,Ritchie Whittingham, Tom Meechan, Ian Herring, Stefan Brown, Nicholas Bignall(James Clark), Alex Wal(Louie Soares)
Subs;Alex Fragata, Scott Rees