Leatherhead 1-1 Hanwell Town
By Clive Cooke
So close yet so far!
SATURDAY 6TH. OCTOBER 2018.
THE EMIRATES F.A. CUP 3RD. QUALIFYING ROUND.
LEATHERHEAD (0) 1 V. 1 (1) HANWELL TOWN.
Hanwell were ‘so near, yet so far away’ as the words of ‘Halfway to Paradise’ come to mind, with Town’s Nirvana being a first ever appearance in the Fourth Qualifying Round of this venerable competition. Town had grabbed the lead in the twenty-fourth minute, been reduced to ten men in the fifty-second and courageously held their slim advantage until substitute Alfie Cue secured a replay in the second minute of added-on time.
Hanwell had begun the game well against their illustrious hosts and ‘gave as good as they got’ for most of the first half. Early on, Tom Collins sliced a path through the middle of the home defence but was dispossessed as he entered the area. Almost immediately a hopeful ball forward found Elliot Benyon, whose rasping drive was well parried by Aaron Bufton. The ball went straight up the other end where the Tanners’ custodian, Zaki Oualah, did well to grab a ball that was ‘pinballing’ around the six yard box.
The next two chances fell to the hosts but both Shaun Okojie and D’Sean Theobalds failed to hit the target when well placed. Then Tom found Louis Bircham whose shot from distance was parried away by Oualah. Back came Leatherhead and both Olly Duffy and Harry Tamplin put their bodies on the line to block shots from Theobalds and John Ufuah. Then it was Hanwell’s turn to threaten a goal. Two corners in succession were met by the head of Rhys Paul, the first being diverted for a corner and the second resulting in a mis-cue. Then Hanwell managed to go ahead. Louis won the ball on the halfway line and found Tom who, in turn, passed the ball to Ibrahim Olutade. The speedy Hanwell striker headed for goal and slipped the ball past Oualah into the net.
The home team went all out for a quick response and Kieron Cathline did well to thwart Okojie with a sliding block before Aaron needed to be at full stretch to push Theobald’s low drive away. The Hanwell ‘keeper was then quickly called upon to deny the Tanners twice more in quick succession as the home side pressed for the equalizer. It was not all one way traffic however, and just after the half hour mark Harry won the ball and surged up the middle of the pitch. He laid the ball off to Ibrahim but his shot from twenty yards went narrowly wide. Up the other end Tom Duffy denied Robert Cullen with a brave block. As the half time break beckoned the ball was mainly to be found in the Hanwell half but the only chances created from all Leatherhead’s possession came from free kicks. The first saw Jerry Nnamani head wide and the second was hit off-target by Cullen.
The second half began and finished with Leatherhead on the front foot. Early on in the proceedings Kieron, Harry and Tom all made good blocks and Rhys produced a vital defensive header, one of many he was to perform as the match went on. Then, in the fifty-second minute Tom tripped Okojie twenty yards from goal, which quickly saw the referee produce a red card. He must have decided that Tom was the last man, although there were several other players in the immediate vicinity. To their credit Hanwell did not let their heads drop and almost immediately Tom combined with Ibrahim but the latter fired wide. The rest of the half was a siege on the Hanwell goal. The well-worn cliché of ‘The Alamo’ sprang readily to mind as wave upon wave of attacks were repelled. It was not quite 200 Texans up against 1500 Mexicans but it seemed like it at times, especially with Town’s ‘Davy Crockett’ off the field.
The Tanners sent on Alfie Cue who hit a power drive just wide, after which Okojie went close and Benyon headed over under pressure from Harry. Ball after ball was lofted into the Hanwell box but time after time Rhys, substitute Andy O’Brien Jack Waldren and Harry headed and volleyed the ball away. Hanwell’s only outlet were goal kicks to Olly who won header after header but Ibrahim was always out-numbered as he tried to get hold of the ball. As the game entered added-on time it looked as if Town might hang on, but it was not to be. A loose ball ran to Cue on the edge of the area and he rifled it into the bottom corner sending the large ‘green army’, who had been less vociferous of late than the ‘Hanwell Massive’, wild with delight.
To Hanwell an away draw against a team from a higher level should have felt like a good result but it did not. It is true that the amount of possession and field position occupied by the home side showed them to be the ascendant side but Town had played for forty minutes with ten men, withdrawing everyone, except the battling Ibrahim, to be behind the ball. At the final whistle the large contingent of travelling supporters gathered at the gate to show their appreciation of their team’s efforts. Hanwell Town have now conceded exactly one hundred goals in their fifty-one appearances in the F.A. Cup. Let us hope that no more are scored against us on Tuesday evening and that the Town has not missed its best chance of progression into the next round!
TEAM: 1.Aaron Bufton 2.Kieron Cathline 3.Jack Waldren 4.Olly Duffy © 5.Tom Duffy 6.Harry Tamplin 7.Louis Bircham 8.Rhys Paul 9.Ibrahim Olutade 10.Tom Collins (Gareth Chendlik 88) 11.Harvey Killeen (17.Andy O’Brien 54). Unused substitutes: 14.Devante McKain 15.Ahmed Elsahib 16.Charles Barton 18.Wayne Carter.