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Hungerford Town FC: match reports 9 to 30 Mar 2019

Hungerford Town FC’s football reporter Ciaran Morrison reports on Hungerford Town FC’s last four matches. Following a disappointing February, the last four matches yielded 10 points from a possible 12 and raised The Crusaders up to 18th place, two points and two places above the drop zone.

Hampton & Richmond 0 Hungerford Town 3

National League South, Saturday 30 March 2019

Hungerford gave their survival chances a big boost thanks to a decisive 3-0 away victory against fellow relegation battlers Hampton and Richmond Borough. 

Hampton made a bright start with Harry Crawford and Jordan Simpson but both their efforts flew over the crossbar. The visitors were still finding their feet but Alfy Whittingham’s teasing ball to Darren Foxley set up a shooting chance for the winger, but a last-ditch challenge from a Beavers defender meant Foxley couldn’t get a shot away.

Goals were needed to spark the game into life and centre back James Rusby delivered the first on 25 minutes.  Cameron Hargreaves’s corner was met by Rusby whose header beat Ashley Maynard-Brewer at his near post. Despite plenty of play in the Hungerford half the Berkshire side were staying firm with Crawford’s blocked shot from a corner the only opportunity of note for the rest of the half.

After the interval, the ever energetic Conor Lynch had a sight on goal after good work from Danilo Orsi-Dadomo to win the ball back, but his half volley didn’t dip under the bar. New signing Noah Chesmain had a composed debut at left back and created a chance for Orsi-Dadomo but his low strike was well stopped by Maynard-Brewer and fellow striker Lynch failed to convert the rebound. Hampton quickly counter attacked with Chesmain having to regain his defensive position to block Dundas’s shot inside the area.

With Hampton committing more men forward it left space at the back for the Crusaders to exploit. Rhys Kavanagh used his pace to good effect but he saw his effort saved from Maynard-Brewer. Foxley collected the rebound, crossing to an unmarked Hargreaves who couldn’t convert a golden chance. That could have been costly: however, Dickson missed a gaping goal minutes later. Hargreaves had another sight of goal only to find goalkeeper Maynard-Brewer saving once again. Dickson had another opportunity to drag the Beavers level but tamely shot into the hands of Luyambula when unmarked in front of goal.

Then at the other end Whittingham sealed the points with 10 minutes to go thanks to a bending effort that hit the roof of the net. Kavanagh scuffed his shot to add a third but Rusby made no mistake from a Whittingahm corner to add gloss to the scoreline.

Billericay Town 1 Hungerford Town 2

National League South, Saturday 23 March 2019

Danio Orsi-Dadomo stepped up with two late strikes to condemn Billericay to a fourth straight defeat and boost Hungerford’s survival chances. 

Ricay’s Adam Coombes hit an early free kick over the bar before his low effort went agonisingly wide of the post. Moses Emmnanuel created an opening when attacking make shift left back Darren Foxley. His deep cross hit the post which created a goalmouth scramble, only kept off the line by some las- ditch defending. The Crusaders were well organised and nearly caught the hosts on the counter. Cameron Hargreaves collected a cleared corner and swiftly passed it across to Conor Lynch who picked out Alfy Whittingham on the edge of the area. The midfielder was pushed from behind but the resulting free kick by Foxley was well blocked by a tall wall.

Lynch then had an opportunity of his own but could only shoot straight into the gloves of Alan Julian, on the half volley, when well placed. The experienced shot stopper then denied Orsi-Dadomo’s curling effort just before the half hour mark. Billericay’s Jamar Loza glided by Marcus Johnson-Schuster and put in an inviting cross not pounced upon from anyone else in blue. They continued to apply some late first half pressure, firstly Jake Howells free kick was flicked on by Coombes wide of the post. The next free kick by Howells found Cole Kpekawa who forced an outstanding save by Luymabula.

A few minutes after the interval, Billericay earned a controversial penalty. Loza stormed into the penalty area and Marvel Ekpiteta, trying to stop a shot from an acute angle, needlessly came into contact with the winger who went down easily when feeling the contact. The penalty was tucked away into the corner by Coombes, despite Luyambula  nearly keeping the ball out of the net.

Ekpiteta nearly made amends minutes later but couldn’t divert his header beyond Julian when unmarked at the back post. Danny Waldren rose above his marker but, when unmarked although leaning back, headed over the bar. With time ticking away the Crusaders needed a moment of inspiration or luck. The latter came three minutes from time when substitute Richie Whittingham went over easily in the penalty area and referee Steven Hughes pointed to the spot. Despite missing his last penalty against Welling last month striker Orsi-Dadomo stepped up. This time he made no mistake, calmly slotting behind the goalkeeper who guessed the wrong way.

Four minutes of added time were indicated and when the match seemed to be heading for a draw Orsi-Dadomo struck from outside the penalty area to give Hungerford all three points. 

Hungerford Town 2 Eastbourne Borough 0

National League South, Saturday 16 March 2019

A goal in either half saw Hungerford claim a valuable three points in their fight to avoid relegation against Eastbourne Borough.

In testing, blustery conditions, the visitors warmed the palms of home goalkeeper Michael Luyambula early on through Corey Jordan’s near-post header. Josh Bingham also had a good opportunity from a similar corner routine minutes later but this time saw his header cleared off the line. Ryan Hall shot wide and David Martin curled a free kick towards goal which hit the crossbar.

Rhys Kavanagh had the first clear chance for the hosts but he couldn’t finish past Mark Smith after good build-up play starting from a quick goal kick by Luyambula. Kavanagh was to put the ball in the net minutes later however when his header crept in past Smith despite strong protests from the Sports that the ball hadn’t crossed the line.

The Crusaders came out strongly in the second half and almost extended their advantage with a Josh Martin header following a long James Rusby throw. Alfy Whittingham forced a low save from the visiting goalkeeper before Darren Foxley hit the crossbar with a free kick. Smith stood tall to deny Kavanagh but the goalkeeper was soon to pick the ball out of his net when the resulting corner fell to centre back Marvel Ekpiteta who turned and slotted home into the corner. It was the crucial second goal that sealed the three points for the Crusaders to keep their hopes of survival alive.

Weston-super-Mare 0 Hungerford Town 0

National League South, Saturday 9 March 2019

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 bodies forward for 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 gained a foothold into the game.

George Nurse was a lively threat early on getting in behind right back Marcus Johnson-Schuster at every possible opportunity, the first as early as the second minute when he pulled the ball back into the penalty area only for no player in a white shirt to be 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 Nurse’s free kick finding Lee who thumped a header onto the crossbar, although he was judged to have been offside.

Jennison Myrie-Williams then had the game’s 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 midfielder’s ball wasn’t pounced upon for a ta- in and the last 20 minutes of the first half petered out. 

Both teams had to improve after the interval if they were to gain the vital three points on offer. The Crusaders had the better of it in general, limiting the Seagulls to minimal chances whilst creating a couple of great opportunities of their own. It was a lack of composure and ruthlessness in front of goal which meant the Berkshire side didn’t return home with the win. Whittingham was the main culprit for not taking his chances: on one occasion h 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.

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 whose low cross-cum-shot was deflected and nearly creeped into Purnell’s near post. In added time Hungerford were looking dangerous and Whittingham had a fierce strike blocked before failing to beat Purnell from close range with the final moment of the game. 

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