ANOTHER DCS THRILLER AS TOWN AND YATE HIT THREE EACH
Stratford Town - 3 - Chandler 12 (og) Sheldon 34 Gregory 71 (pen)
Yate Town - 3 - Staley (2) 9 & 43 Haldane 59
These two sides went into this game occupying 11th and 12th places in the Calor League Division 1 South and West table separated only by goal difference, and after a pulsating encounter at the DCS on Tuesday evening which had six goals including a penalty and an own goal plus numerous near misses and a sending-off they remain exactly as they were.
Before kick-off Town supporters were still reeling from the news that striker Matt West - 10 goals in 17 appearances - had decided to head off on a nine month trip to Australia, and they also learnt that skipper Gary Moran would miss the match because of a rib injury picked up a week ago at Mangotsfield.
As a result Michael Williams switched to right back allowing Chris Sterling to come into midfield with Tyrone Fagan replacing West up front, while elsewhere Aaron Williams took over at left back with Loyiso Recci moving into midfield and Sam Adkins dropping to the subs bench.
The pace was frantic right from the start with Town making and missing a great chance to take the lead in the opening minute. Fagan began the move by sweeping the ball out to Simeon Tulloch on the left, and Town’s pacy wide man sprinted clear before reaching the byline and whipping over a cross which found Sterling unmarked at the far post, but from inside the six yard box Sterling contrived to fire well over much to his and the crowd’s disbelief.
A couple of minutes later the play switched to the other end with Lewis Haldane beating the offside trap to latch onto a through ball down the inside left channel, but Town keeper Andy Kemp came out to challenge and was able to push the ball behind as Haldane tried to go round him.
With both sides looking to surge forward at every opportunity it was already clear that it was going to be an uncomfortable evening for the respective defences, and it was a sign of what was to come when Yate went ahead in the ninth minute.
Town were unable to deal with a Yate throw-in on the right and the ball fell to Jordan Rogers whose shot was parried by Kemp with the alert Ross Staley reacting quickest to lash the rebound into the roof of the net.
Three minutes later Town were level due this time to Yate’s defensive shortcomings. What seemed to be an ambitious backpass almost caught keeper Martin Horsell out of position but at full stretch he managed to turn it behind for a corner, and when Jamie Sheldon floated over the flag kick it deflected off the unfortunate Joe Chandler into the back of the net.
Within a minute or so Aaron Williams was not far away with a rasping effort from 25 yards out, and the crowd were on the feet soon after as Tulloch again raced clear only to be brought down by the advancing Horsell. It was a yellow card for the keeper but no joy for Town as Sheldon’s free kick came back off the Yate wall and was hacked clear.
The next Town attack was even more promising as Sterling and Fagan exchanged passes leading to Fagan firing in a low cross from the right only for Chandler to atone for his earlier mishap with a crucial interception as Richard Gregory waited to pounce.
The end-to-end action continued as the half reached its midway point with Staley shooting narrowly over followed by Jake Cox doing likewise, while in between the hardworking Fagan muscled his way through the Yate backline and jinked past the stranded Horsell only for Billy Fletcher to somehow get back and hook the Town striker’s shot off the line.
Another goal could not be long in coming, but when it arrived on 34 minutes it was from a set piece when Sterling’s cross from the right was handled by a Yate defender. Several of the crowd close by thought that it should have been a penalty only for referee Andrew Fox to instead give a free kick right on the line.
But the admirably composed Sheldon made sure that none of that mattered by drilling the free kick past the wall and beyond the diving Horsell’s right hand into the bottom corner of the net.
With Yate temporarily stunned by finding themselves trailing Town piled on the pressure. Fagan expertly controlled a Michael Williams cross on his chest before swivelling to hit a firmly struck shot which was well held by Horsell, and the Yate keeper was called upon almost immediately after as he again did well to deal with a deflected long range effort from Recci.
But it was typical of the way the game was going that having survived that barrage Yate drew level again two minutes before half time and once more it was from a free kick carelessly conceded by Town. Although it was all of 35 yards out Staley’s precision strike flew past the helpless Kemp to clip the inside of his right hand post and ricochet across goal to the opposite side of the net.
There was no let-up in the breathless tempo after the restart with Kemp saving a fierce effort from Mitch Tippins virtually straight from the kick-off as Yate began to dominate the meaningful possession and it was no more than they deserved when they regained the lead on 59 minutes with a goal very similar to their first.
This time it was a shot from the dangerous Cox - who was making his presence felt down the right with increasing regularity - which was only palmed out by Kemp and there was Haldane to prod the loose ball into the net.
Town were then forced into a change when Fagan limped off with Adkins coming into midfield and Sterling moving forward to partner Gregory. But it was Yate who continued on top, and Cox almost put them further ahead with another forceful run into the right of the penalty area before hitting his shot against Kemp’s legs.
Then on 71 minutes it all changed again as Town equalised from the penalty spot while in the same incident bizarrely managing to have a player sent off. It began with a Town free kick over by the right touchline which was taken by Adkins and easily collected by Horsell who was about to clear it upfield when the referee suddenly whistled and pointed to the spot.
He had seen Cox grabbing a handful of Recci’s shirt as the free kick came across and had also noted Recci’s retaliatory punch. So it was a yellow card for Cox and a red for Recci and after the furore had died down Gregory blasted the spot kick past Horsell for his 20th goal of the season in all competitions.
Being a player short put Town really up against it but with Sheldon immense in midfield well supported by Adkins and Tulloch and with Dan Parker and Callum Burgess working equally hard at the back they gradually edged their way towards full time and another invaluable point.
Haldane might have won it for Yate in the final minute of normal time but Kemp acrobatically turned his shot behind, and in the near six added minutes played by the referee Staley could have completed a hat-trick but shot over from only eight yards out followed by substitute Jake Jackson having a useful effort deflected narrowly wide.
But in the end it was a point apiece which was probably the right result. It had certainly been an evening with plenty of entertainment and incident played in a good spirit, and hopefully was much enjoyed by the watching Mayor and Town Councillors on their official visit to the DCS.
TOWN : Andy Kemp, Michael Williams, Aaron Williams, Callum Burgess, Dan Parker, Jamie Sheldon, Simeon Tulloch, Loyiso Recci (c), Richard Gregory, Tyrone Fagan (Sam Adkins 62), Chris Sterling. Unused Subs - Stuart Adamson, Jamie Clarke, Matt Gasper & Sam Brady (GK)
YATE : Martin Horsell, Jake Cox, Mitch Harrison, Joe Chandler, Billy Fletcher, Connor Clifford, Mitch Tippins (Danny Lane 82), Mike Bryant, Jordan Rogers (Jake Jackson 84), Lewis Haldane, Ross Staley. Unused Subs - Michael Meaker, Martin Lenihan & Ryan Dunn
Referee - Andrew Fox
Assistant Referees - Kevin Carroll & Luis Martin
Attendance - 145
Marstons Town Man of the Match - Jamie Sheldon
The View From The Dug-Out - for Carl Adams it’s more of the same
“It’s so frustrating as once more some naïve defending has cost us. How many times is it that we’ve scored three goals and not won.
And yet we’re still handily placed in mid-table, and we would all have taken that at the start of the season - my real frustration is that it could be so much better.”
Match Stats by Rod Abrahams
Town - GA 17 OT 8 HW 0 CW 7 FC 7 OS 0 YC 0 RC 1
Yate - GA 19 OT 9 HW 0 CW 6 FC 15 OS 3 YC 4 RC 0
Town Yellow Cards - None Red Card - Recci
Yate Yellow Cards - Horsell, Tippins, Cox & Bryant
Match Report by Bryan Hale