Huntingdon Town should have gone third in the Premier Division of the United Counties League on Saturday – but they had a worrying off-day and could only pick up one point from their 1-1 draw at home to Desborough Town.

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With suspended leading goalscorer Declan Rogers watching from behind the bench, Huntingdon huffed and puffed through a match that on paper they should have coasted.

Still, when Jacob Joyce kept his head in the area and finally gave the team a 1-0 lead with a fine strike five minutes into the second half, you sensed they would go on to win all three points. But an instant reply from Desborough’s Matty O’Neill stunted whatever green shoots there were on the awful Jubilee Park pitch – and even the referee was against them when he denied a clear-cut penalty for a kick in the head, instead bizarrely awarding an indirect free-kick inside the area.

Manager Seb Hayes was understandably disappointed. “It’s the business end of the season and we can’t be putting in performances like that, especially at home,” he said. “We didn’t get going from the word go.”

Huntingdon captain Mike Hyem had a clear chance right at the end when the ball was looped into the box and fell right in front of him – but the captain misjudged his header and the ball bounced safely into the hands of the Desborough goalkeeper.

“Stuart Eason has had a bad day in front of goal,” said Hayes, but qualified that by adding: “But the chances that he did miss were in tight areas where he threw his body in so I am not going to blame him for any of them because no other player on our team would put themselves in those positions. Like Mickey’s chance, on another day they go in.

And the referee’s decision to award that indirect free-kick? “All we are having at the moment is poor performances off referee’s,” said Hayes. “He has given shoulder barges as free kicks and he has given a high foot which has connected with a head as an indirect free kick in the area.

“But still, we should put teams like Desborough away. No disrespect to Desborough but they are 10th or 12th in the league for a reason. We should be beating teams like that and that’s what I said to the lads.

“We can’t keep putting in performances like that because we haven’t started 2014 very well in the way we are playing.”

This draw came on the back of a better one. On the Wednesday Huntingdon had gone to third-placed Deeping Rangers and picked up a point with Ben Seymour-Shove scoring in the 1-1 draw.

After Saturday, Huntingdon dropped to sixth but they still have many games in hand over all of the teams around them.

This Wednesday they are at home again and have a chance to put the disappointment of last weekend behind with the visit of Long Buckby, another team they should – at least on paper – beat reasonably easily.

Hayes added: “I have just told the players, we can’t accept performances like that and we have got to move on.”

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