Hanwell Town 2 PBT 2
By Clive Cooke
Match Report by Malcom Paice
Town were delighted to be able to play their first home game for five weeks on Saturday as fixtures were beginning to pile up. The game turned out to be a full-blooded affair with both teams striving to play good football despite the ‘heavy going’, the blustery wind and the steady rain.
The visitors seized the early initiative and Gary Jones had the ball in the Hanwell net inside two minutes but it was ruled out for a foul on Ryan Kinnane that required him to receive treatment. The next incident of note came when a collision between Ahmed Mohammed and Oliver Duffy saw the ball run to former Hanwell front man Eoin Casey. With just the keeper to beat he fired way over the bar to Town’s relief. Casey’s next chance came when Chris Doyle dummied over a cross from the Scholars’ left flank. As Casey shot Martin Herdman raced off his line and spread himself to make a good save.
Town were finding it hard to get into the final third of the pitch despite some good possession in midfield and the ever-willing running of Tom Hunt. It looked more promising in the twenty-fifth minute when Calum Duffy beat several players to create a shooting opportunity but his left-footed shot did not reap the reward his run deserved.
Two minutes later the Scholars went ahead. An in-swinging free kick from Luke Warner-Eley was met at the far post by Casey who volleyed in from close range. Hanwell tried to respond immediately and Bradley Simmonds went on a good run but fired over. Then the same player combined well with Tom Hunt but the latter’s cross was grabbed by Ben Goode in the visitors’ goal. Hanwell were looking more dangerous now but a threatening cross from Bradley eluded everyone.
In all honesty Potters Bar looked the better side for most of the first half and Martin was called upon to prevent them doubling their advantage when he saved a Sean Grace header from close range. He then did particularly well to tip over a ball that was destined for the top corner via Warner-Eley’s cross and Tom Duffy’s head. Town had one more goal effort before the interval but Michael Buckley’s shot was blocked after he had run on to Tom Hunt’s lay-off.
As is so often the case, Hanwell began the second period better than they did the first. Michael and Tom Hunt exchanged neat passes as they moved forward from the kick-off but the former was well tackled as he moved into the area. The ensuing corner was flicked on by Ryan, headed back across the area by Tom Duffy and met by Simeon Armstrong, whose shot was well saved by Goode. Soon afterwards Michael exchanged passes with Bradley but the latter’s cross shot went agonizingly wide.
Five minutes before the hour mark, with ‘Massive’ behind the goal trying their best to lift the team despite their numerical depletion, Manager Ray Duffy made a double substitution. Within a quarter of an hour an injury to Tom Hunt meant that Town’s final substitution was needed. Within a minute Goode failed to hold on to Michael’s free kick enabling the energetic and alert Ollie to rush in and bundle the ball over the line. One-all and all to play for! Unfortunately Town did not remain level for long as Joe Bennett and Doyle combined well to enable Casey to re-establish the visitors’ advantage within a minute of the restart.
Town were pressing for an equalizer when, with ten minutes to go, Goode threw the ball in front of himself, then picked it up again, gifting Hanwell an indirect free kick eight yards from goal. Everyone of a certain age in the ‘Bob Fisher Stand’ recalled the Allan Shearer goal from such a location many years ago. Alas, Ollie did not match the great man’s achievement but two goal-bound and goal-worthy efforts were blocked by the visitors strung along the goal line. It seemed that it was not going to be Hanwell’s day but a handball in the area by Connor Sullivan in the ninetieth minute gave Town one last chance. Michael claimed the ball and made no mistake from the spot.
There was still time for Potters Bar to cause Hanwell a scare but a glancing header from a corner was well blocked by the defence. The whistle finally signalled full time and to Hanwell it felt like a win. The spirited second half performance by the whole team, typified by Ollie’s non-stop commitment, had earned a point that looked a little unlikely at half time.