Crusaders triumph over Saints
A Louie Soares hat-trick secures three vital points for Hungerford
A superb hat trick from captain Louie Soares saw Hungerford return to winning ways with one of our best performances of the season to beat high flying St. Albans City by three goals to one. Heavy rain as kick-off time approached did not augur well and no doubt reduced the attendance, but earlier good work by the ground-staff ensured that there were no major problems and the pitch stood up well. After conceding a late equaliser on Saturday against Chelmsford the fates seemed to be conspiring against us when the visitors took an early lead after just 6 minutes when James Clark was adjudged to have handled inside the penalty area. Captain David Noble put the ball past Marcus Beauchamp who didn’t quite get a strong enough hand to the ball to keep it out. That lead didn’t last long however as the Crusaders battled back with a cross/shot from Soares on 16 minutes that deceived Dean Snedker in the St. Albans goal and ended up in the net. The goal seemed to visibly lift our players and we looked the better side throughout the remaining 74 minutes. Both teams had chances to extend their lead before half time with German missing two chances for St. Albans and Richie Whittingham's strike forcing Snedker into a tremendous diving save but the sides went in level at the break.
With the slope in our favour we continued to play well after the interval and with pressure on the St. Albans goal increasing we eventually took the lead after 57 minutes when Soares broke through the middle to slide the ball past Snedker. It was 3-1 just three minutes later when Nicholas Bignall was brought down in the area by Snedker and Soares coolly completed his hat-trick from the spot. The promotion chasing Saints continued to struggle to gain any momentum in the game but Marcus Beauchamp did make one stunning save to prevent Sam Merson from pulling a goal back but it was our day however and the appearance of defenders Matt Partridge and Rhys Tyler, both absent due to injury, was an added bonus.
The final whistle was greeted with huge cheers from the Hungerford faithful and the players warmly applauded off the pitch as we climbed three places in the league table and gave ourselves a huge boost in our efforts to avoid relegation.
I wonder what the watching Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers, father of Hungerford's returning midfielder Anton, made of it all?