Hanwell Town 4 Barton Rovers 1
With the Club President flying in from Spain in his ‘lucky’ jacket, the Club Chairman attending his first game of 2018 and the sun warming a pitch that was heavy but eminently playable, everything was demanding a good performance from Hanwell in this proverbial ‘six-pointer’. That Town got it owed more to tenacious defending, hard running and, at times, incisive passing of the team, rather than the President’s attire. In fact Town began brilliantly and could have gone ahead before a minute had been played. Skipper Olly Duffy’s long ball from the back reached Anthony O’Connor, who outstripped his marker and clipped it over the advancing ‘keeper. He then rolled the ball towards the unguarded goal. The heavy ground slowed the ball and as it reached the post a Rovers’ defender recovered well to clear.
The Town supporters were still discussing what might have been when they were awarded a penalty in the third minute. Harvey Killeen appeared to have been the victim of an over-robust challenge just inside the area. Joe Chandiram stepped up to successfully convert the spot kick. (Apologies for the split infinitive!) Hanwell were on a roll and Alfie Cain fired narrowly over following a Wayne Carter free kick. Just three minutes later Town increased their advantage. A cross-field ball from Wayne found Anthony who beat his man and laid the ball low into the box where it was met by Mergin Qarri. Two goals to nil with only ten and a half minutes played! It was not until after the fifteen minute marker that the visitors fashioned a goal attempt. A short free kick set up Andrew Phillips but he shot straight at a well-positioned Sam Bunting. Almost immediately Mergin forced Matt Finlay into a tremendous save up the other end.
That much of the game was being played in the visitors’ half was, in no small part, down to Town’s, and particularly Olly’s aerial domination when Barton ‘went long’. If Hanwell had had their shooting boots on the game could have been made secure before the half hour mark but a number of shots from distance failed to force Finlay to warm his hands. Hanwell paid the price for this profligacy in the thirty-second minute when Phillips’ good first touch enabled him to reduce the arrears from ten yards. The only other noteworthy passage of play in the half came when a tremendous run and cross by the returning Charlie Mitchell was followed by both Alfie and Wayne having shots blocked.
Hanwell started the second half strongly but an eye-catching move, involving Joe, Anthony and Harvey only resulted in a corner, not the goal it deserved. As the game moved towards the hour mark Barton were gaining an increasing amount of possession but the Hanwell back four were preventing them from creating any clear-cut chances. For Hanwell, Harvey volleyed over the bar after good work by Anthony and Charlie. A booming headed clearance by Olly saw Anthony race into the Barton area but he delayed and Gui Mazconi was able to recover and make a vital tackle. The ball ran to Charlie but his shot was easily saved by Finlay.
There was danger for Hanwell in the seventieth minute but Calum Duffy somehow headed clear a threatening cross while facing his own goal. As the game approached the last ten minutes the Hanwell faithful were becoming a little nervous and even the chants of the depleted ‘Massive’ sounded more concerned than enthusiastic. However the nerves were settled in the seventy-ninth minute. Almost immediately after Finlay had saved from Harvey, Town were awarded a second penalty, this time for handball. To some, particularly those from Bedfordshire, it looked a bit ‘hand to ball’ rather than the reverse, but awarding a penalty for such incidents in the area seems to be the way the law is being interpreted these days. The visiting supporters were obviously less than happy, especially after Joe was successful from twelve yards for the second time.
Hanwell played out the rest of the game on the front foot with substitute Jarmal Joseph going close in the final minute after being set up by Anthony. As the game entered added-on time Anthony and Harvey beat the offside trap, with the latter drawing the ‘keeper and slotting the ball just inside the far post. It was an important and deserved win for the Town but the visitors went away feeling hard-done-by having conceded two disputed penalties and having had their skipper sent off towards the end for two yellow cards.
TEAM: 1.Sam Bunting 2.Calum Duffy 3.Mason Welch-Turner 4.Oliver Duffy © 5.Joe Chandiram 6.Wayne Carter 7.Mergim Qarri (12.Glen Yala 64) 8.Alfie Cain (Georges Ehui 70) 9.Anthony O’Connor 10.Harvey Killeen 11.Charlie Mitchell (16.Jarmal Joseph 83). Unused substitutes: 15.Chris Moore 17.Ricky Pither.