Lewis' late show sees off the champions
By Ciaran Morrison
A late goal from Lewis Leigh-Gichrist kept Hungerford in the driving seat for another season of national league south football
Lewis Leigh-Gilchrist scored a late winner as Hungerford moved one-step closer to national league south safety. On a warm but cloudy afternoon in Devon, Torquay were always going to claim the headlines, on the day they lifted the national league south trophy in front of a record crowd of 5, 351. Many fans on the terraces decided to get into the stadium early and were chanting songs over an hour before kick-off. Golden flags had been handed out to all home supporters to build a sea of gold for Gary Johnson’s team as they walked out on to the pitch. It was certainly one of the best atmospheres in the national league south this season. Even the 54 away supporters who had made the 310 mile round trip sung loud and proud throughout, being heard amongst a cauldron of noise. That magnificent support spurred the team onto victory, as they had to weather an early storm.
Jamie Reid was guilty of missing two guilt edged chances in the first 10 minutes. After a neat cut back Reid found himself unmarked in box only to somehow pass the ball wide of an open goal. Then he lobbed goalkeeper Michael Luyambula, but saw the effort cannon off the crossbar. Kyle Cameron then tested the goalkeeper for an acute angle as the home fans sensed an early goal. They had another opening again with striker Reid but like on the previous occasions the net didn't bulge. The visitors had a first sight of goal through James Rusby's long throw that created a good chance for Mike Jones. Pressure from the hosts continued as Ryan Dickson saw his header claimed by Luyambula. The shot stopper then had to be on his toes to keep out another Reid strike with his feet just moments later. Danilo Orsi-Dadomo nearly gave Hungerford a surprise lead. His mazy run ended in the penalty box where he would be denied by Shaun MacDonald for his first save of the day. MacDonald was still to play spectator for the rest of the half as Torquay looked to play a high intensity game which even included Gary Johnson coming onto the pitch, which the fans enjoyed. However referee Marc Whaley had to have a word with the title winning manager and one of his coaching team soon after when he chased a ball down the touch line trying to give his side a quick throw in. They were becoming frustrated on the bench and on the pitch where Luyambula was to deny them once again. The on loan Birmingham goalkeeper was the pantomime villain of the first half with the Torquay supporters but soon silenced them with an excellent double save. A corner from the left was met by Cameron who was left shell shocked when the goalkeeper saved the shot with his leg. Dickson then latched onto the rebound that produced an even better save from the goalkeeper. That gave the supporters a lift and a reason for Hungerford to worry. Kalvin Lumbombo-Kalala then set it up on a plate for Reid to break the deadlock however, the Berkshire side would survive a first half onslaught.
The second half definitely didn't live up to the hype of the first. The Gulls become increasingly sloppy in possession that the Crusaders pounced upon to win the midfield battle and gain three vital points. Reid had a chance four minutes into the half but fired over. MacDonald had to be alert to catch a curling strike from Jones. It then became a cagey affair as both sides jostled for possession but lacked composure and quality on the ball to make anything happen. This wasn't turning out to be an ideal title party. Connor Lemonheigh-Evans had the best chance six minutes from time but like on previous occasions Luyambula palmed the ball away for a corner. Conor Lynch and Lewis Leigh-Gilchrist came on to add pace and energy up front which immediately stretched the home defence. Leigh-Gilchrist forced MacDonald into a good save at his near post before the midfielder made amends in a similar position. With 90 minutes on the clock the goal sparked pandemonium in the away end. The home fans had gone quiet and the biggest upset of the season had been completed.
The win moves Hungerford within a point of another season in the national league south. Truro scored a 91st minute equaliser to take the relegation battle to the final day but it did little to dampen the away fans mood. On the final day we take on East Thurrock in a big game at Bulpit lane which is Saturday the 27th of April, a 3 o’clock kick off.