NON-LEAGUE FOOTBALL: Negatives in victory for Eynesbury Rovers, but positives in defeat for Huntingdon Town after midweek derby date
- Credit: Archant
It was difficult to decide which manager to feel sorry for the most at Hall Road on Tuesday night.
Eynesbury Rovers claimed the Huntingdonshire bragging rights at United Counties League Premier Division level with a 2-1 victory over Huntingdon Town.
It was the outcome the league table suggested would occur although the manner in which the third-placed hosts saw off the second-bottom visitors was not entirely convincing. Perhaps the injury and unavailability issues of both clubs played a part in that.
Huntingdon boss Bob Warby claimed to be without 12 players and had to field a goalkeeper recovering from carbon monoxide poisoning between the posts, while Eynesbury chief Mark Ducket was left to chunter about ‘never having known injuries like it’ when Matt Bannister hobbled off early on.
Bannister, a midfielder filling in as a right-back due to Rovers’ injury and availability issues, had to be replaced by another out-of-position player in Jack Warwick.
And when debutant Eoin O’Herhily also went off at half-time, Rovers were left with a back four featuring just one recognised defender – the typically immense James Ducket.
It’s just as well they were able to field an in-form goalkeeper behind such a makeshift defensive set-up, and glove-man Jamie Greygoose again excelled.
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He produced two stunning saves in quick succession just before half-time to deny Huntingdon men Giuliano Staffieri and Ben Colmer.
Those vital goalkeeping contributions arrived in between Eynesbury’s two goals. Loanee Jordan Brown broke the deadlock in the 36th minute and top-scorer Craig Smith doubled the advantage with the aid of a deflection four minutes after the restart.
The hosts were also guilty of missing other opportunities – the best of which fell to Smith when he fired off target after collecting a fine pass from midfield maestro Hayden Bream and went round goalkeeper Richard Roberts.
The Huntingdon number one made three smart saves during the second half as well to help ensure his team weren’t cast adrift and their high-flying hosts were never truly comfortable.
Both bosses had plenty more to moan about during and after the game.
Where Ducket was concerned, it was a lack of cutting edge, a tendancy to resort to long, hopeful balls and a failure to despatch struggling opponents more emphatically.
In Huntingdon’s case, it was seeing several decisions go against them and the dismissal of assistant manager Mark Forrest from the dugout late in the second half.
Forrest claimed he had merely clapped one of his own players for winning a header, but referee Callum Sharp took exception to it and send Warby’s number two on his way.
Warby himself then got a talking to from the official for contesting what looked to be a poor offside decision as his team went on the attack, and judging by the frequent holler from around the Town dugout, they felt plenty of other things didn’t go their way either.
They were perhaps fortunate not to be reduced to 10 men when Jamie Waterworth launched into a rash and wild challenge on Rovers man Danny Webb.
That was a rare moment of on-field indiscipline from a Huntingdon side who’s well-drilled approach will earn them valuable points in the battle to avoid a second successive rock-bottom finish.
They operate a solid and rigid system, and there is no hint of any player ever throwing in the towel.
That never-say-attitude was rewarded by a late goal on Tuesday as Waterworth lashed in a loose ball following a stoppage time corner.
It was just too little, just too late in this fixture, but there are certainly signs of promise for Town, who sit one place and one point off the bottom of the Premier Division ahead of a visit to unbeaten Northampton side Sileby Rangers this Saturday.
And the potential of this Eynesbury side is also clear to see. Ducket has guided his new-look team into the upper reaches of the Premier Division on a fraction of the budget that other top sides have, if the rumour mill is to be believed.
They go to Grantham side Harrowby this Saturday.