NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL: Losing run is over as Huntingon Town show their character in testing conditions
- Credit: Archant
Boss Jimmy Brattan hailed his depleted Huntingdon side for battling through illness to snap their losing streak.
Town collected a welcome United Counties League Division One point when drawing 1-1 at Lincolnshire side Bourne yesterday.
They hit the front at the Abbey Lawn when defender Jake Waterworth poked in a swirling Chris Down corner nine minutes before the break, but the hosts levelled through Zak Munton when having a fierce wind at their backs in the second period.
The deadlock in dreadful conditions snapped a run of five successive defeats that has seen Huntingdon slide into the bottom half of the standings.
And the manner in which they did it – on a day when having several players under the weather and only able to name one substitute (even he, Connor Clarke, was among those not well) – impressed Brattan.
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He said: “I’m really pleased with the result. It’s an important point for us that stops the run of defeats.
“We only had 12 players available and five of those were really suffering. We had boys playing through flu and others being sick in the changing room - one lad was even sick during the game.
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“We deserved our lead and could probably have gone further ahead but for some poor decision making. We knew Bourne would come on to us in the second half when they had the wind and also realised we were literally dying on our feet.
“But we kept going after they got level and we could even have nicked the win with a couple of late chances going just wide.”
Despite having a host of players out, Town were boosted by the return of midfielder Ben Keating following a serious knee injury.
The former Welsh youth international arrived in the summer but was hurt in the club’s opening game of the season back in July.
He was close to capping his return with a late winner after player/assistant boss Chris Jones saw an initial effort blocked.
The midfield duo were among the pick of the Huntingdon performers on a day when another player normally found in the centre of the park, Ben Panting, was outstanding as an emergency central defender. Panting is a target for another Step 6 side - March Town - but Brattan expects him to stay.
Town were on top in the first period when Down and Christian Le went close from long range while Jones worked Bourne goalkeeper Alex Brown.
Waterworth gave the away side the advantage their display deserved and striker Corey Kingston was not far away from a second goal before substitute Clarke – on for the poorly Ben Page – was unable to get a telling touch to a Panting free kick.
But it was no surprise – both for health and weather reasons – that Huntingdon found themselves under attack for most of the second half.
A goal-line clearance from Richard Baines was swiftly followed by a reaction save from goalkeeper Quincy Shorunmu as the hosts piled on the pressure.
And they were unable to withstand the wave of attacks as Munton eventually levelled with 20 minutes to go.
That led to a ragged spell in which Town appeared intent on pressing the self-destruct button, but they gradually regained their shape and composure to finish strongly.
Jones was just off-target from 20 yards before Keating dragged the final chance wide on a day when a point was the very least they deserved for a performance full of character.