Must win game ends in dire draw
By Ciaran Morrison
Hungerford put in an average display which sees the points shared on the Somerset coast.
Basement club Weston Super-Mare and Hungerford played out a drab goalless draw with few clear cut chances for either side. In a game which both sides saw as a "must win" both teams were reluctant to commit body's forward in fear of being exposed defensively. After a 5-0 drubbing on Tuesday the hosts needed a reaction and made a bright start early on but failed to build on that momentum as Hungerford weathered the storm and slowly gathered a foothold into the game but seemed content on getting a point. George Nurse was a lively threat early on getting in behind right back Marcus Johnson-Schuster at every possible opportunity. On the first opportunity, two minutes in, he pulled it back into the penalty area only for no player in a white shirt to get on the end of it. Jake Lee was also lively in the opening exchanges and the centre back had a good opportunity from a low corner which was blocked before heading over the next whipped in delivery. The visitors were struggling to find any rhythm but they exploited Weston's high line to bring a good chance to Darren Foxley. The winger cut inside onto his left boot but the low effort was blocked following good work form striker Danilo Orsi-Dadomo. The hosts were to regain their attacking momentum with Nurses free kick finding Lee who thumped a header onto the crossbar however the defender was adjudged to have been offside. Jennison Myrie-Williams then had the games first big chance, only for Crusaders goalkeeper Michael Luyambula to stand tall and deny the winger the opening goal. Hungerford were pressing the hosts high up the pitch but it was good simple passing and movement that created the opening for Alfy Whittingham's low cross across the box. The midfielders ball wasn't pounced upon for a tap in and the last 20 minutes of the first half petered out. It was no surprise the fans had nothing to shout about with little atmosphere being created.
Both teams had to improve after the interval if they were to gain the vital three points on offer and the Crusaders did that limiting the Seagulls to minimal chances whilst creating a couple of great opportunities at the other end. It was a lack of composure and ruthlessness in front of goal which meant the Berkshire side didn't return home with the win. A.Whittingham was the main culprit for not taking his chances but his energy, work rate and determination to win the match made him a stand out performer amongst the other 21 players on the pitch. He seemed certain to score when he rounded goalkeeper Luke Purnell but a heavy touch meant the covering defender was able to make a last ditch challenge and clear the danger. As the minutes ticked by the Seagulls were pushing more bodies forward and it nearly reaped rewards as Luyambula had to make an excellent fingertip save to deny Williams seconds after the hosts had a shout for a penalty turned down by referee Philip Staynings. On the other hand pushing men forward meant Marc McGregor's team were leaving themselves increasingly exposed at the back. They were caught napping by substitutes Conor Lynch's quick corner kick to A.Whittingham who's low cross/shot was deflected and nearly creeped into Purnell's near post. In added time Hungerford were looking dangerous and A.Whittingham had a fierce strike blocked before failing to beat Purnell from close range with the final moment of the game. The goalkeeper saved Super-Mare a point but it failed to satisfy the home supporters who had turned up.
The result means both sides relegation worries have increased and they stay firmly pinned inside the relegation zone. With Gloucester losing out to Dartford both sides have gained a point on the Tigers but East Thurrock's victory at Truro City means the Rocks are now starting to build up momentum ahead of final 8 games (9 for Weston). Next weekend Hungerford hosts 16th placed Eastbourne Borough in another crucial match for survival.