HUNTINGDON Town manager Ricky Marheineke summed up his feelings in a tweet after a last-minute goal denied his side all three points in their 2-2 draw with Blackstones at Jubilee Park on Saturday.
Marheineke wrote: “Poor performance today and wounded to let a goal in four minutes into injury time. A draw was a fair result but feels like a defeat. Gutted.”
In fact, if it hadn’t been for the performance of goalkeeper Andy Stevens, the game could well have indeed ended in a defeat. Huntingdon’s sixth goalkeeper of the season made three outstanding saves to keep his side in the lead right up until the 94th minute. That was when defender Ryan Spencer slipped in the box and Blackstones defender Ben Porter pounced. There was very little Stevens could do about that one.
Huntingdon started sloppily and drifted in and out of the game after Adi Staffieri’s fourth-minute opener. The Blackstones striker had been gifted the space in the home side’s box and found it far too easy to belt the ball home from close range.
Huntingdon lost defender Jake Waterworth to an injury after that and Ashley Yeomans came on in his place. Stevens made his first brilliant save on 31 minutes, denying Staffieri, before Ben Seymour-Shove lobbed the Blackstones goalkeeper with a delightful chip, only to see the ball bounce off the crossbar.
It was in the 45th minute that Huntingdon equalised. Midfielder Dave Townsend hit the ball home from eight yards following a great cross from Jamie Graham and a jump from Seymour-Shove which put the visiting goalkeeper off.
Huntingdon were better after half-time. Graham had a shot blocked, and when Declan Rogers was brought down on the edge of the Blackstones area, Townsend lined-up the free kick - but his shot was always rising and the ball easily cleared the crossbar. Townsend then headed the ball wide from a long throw-in.
In the 58th minute Huntingdon took the lead. From another throw-in, a quckly taken one from Yeomans down the left, Graham skilfully cut inside at the byline and picked out Seymour-Shove with a low cross. The Huntingdon striker found the net with a simple shot.
Niks Savelneiks came on for Stuart Eason and worked hard, creating space for further chances - but Spencer, Seymour-Shove, Graham and Ollie Medwynter all went close without extending the lead. Stevens then completed his hat-trick of classy saves before Porter’s equaliser opened up Marheineke’s ‘wound’.
“To be fair to Blackstones I think they are a better side than their league position suggests,” said the Huntingdon manager. “They worked hard in the last 15 minutes and they made it hard for us.”
On the Tuesday night, Huntingdon had gone to bottom-of-the-table Irchester United and won 3-2.
Rogers, who has returned to the club following a spell with St Neots Town, scored twice in that game, while Graham got the other goal.
The team are currently 10th in the United Counties League Premier Division, with several games in hand over many of the promotion challengers at the top of the table. Had Huntingdon won on Saturday, and had leaders St Ives Town lost – and had Huntingdon gone on to win all of their games in hand, they would have had the same amount of points it would have been possible for the Saints to accrue.
That’s not bad for a team fancied by many to struggle in this division after winning the Division One championship last season, if not a little fanciful.
Indeed, laughing off those statistics, Marheineke told The Hunts Post: “We would rather have the points on the board.
“At the start of the season we would have been happy with fourth or fifth from bottom. Now, with the signings we have made, we will be happy with mid-table. Saying that, I think we could be good enough to make the top eight now.
“That would be fantastic - but let’s not get carried away ... we’re doing okay.”
On Saturday, Huntingdon are away at AFC Kempston Rovers, another team that Marheineke feels are in a false position. Just like Huntingdon themselves … possibly.
Huntingdon: Andy Stevens, Ollie Medwynter, Ryan Spencer, Dan Rogers, Victor Torres, Ricky Dear, Dave Townsend, Jake Waterworth (Ashley Yeomans), Jamie Graham, Stuart Eason (Niks Savelneiks), Ben Seymour-Shove (Jack Warwick).