HAMBLEDEN closed the gap at the top of the Wycombe and District League Senior Division table after beating Lane End by the odd goal in five at the Dene on Saturday.
Hambleden were soon in command and retained possession well. Lane End, although, struggling to settle, kept the hosts’ opening attacks at arm’s length.
Stuart Macllenan was soon in the thick of the action and after being played in by Adam North down the left hand side, turned his marker inside the box and found a way to the byline, shooting narrowly wide from a tight angle.
Five minutes into the game, Macllenan again collected the ball in a similar position and enacted the same move driving by his marker towards the byline. This time from the same acute angle Macllenan’s drive nestled into the bottom corner of the net to put the hosts into the lead.
The visitors hit back a minute later. From the restart a catalogue of Hambleden errors saw the home team undone. Adam North failed to win a challenge cleanly in the middle of the field. Oz Dawson’s swiped clearance when under minimal pressure saw the ball spin towards James Rodrigues deep in the Hambleden penalty area whose header fell to a Lane End player to equalise past a bemused Ross Hathaway.
Ben Chivers settled the nerves and repeatedly broke down any further Lane End forward momentum. Dawson tackled strongly and Brunning looked calm in possession as the Hambleden defence settled.
From an Adam North foray down the left hand side on 32 minutes Hambleden regained the advantage. Brunning played out of defence and worked the ball forward, Ryan Kemp and Macllenan held possession well with the latter threading the ball through the Lane End defenders to find the on-rushing North bearing down on goal. North’s strike from eight yards saw the Lane End keeper do well to parry with the rebound falling kindly to Paul Reading who headed into the back of the net.
Hambleden surged forward and were to profit again before half-time. Reading completed his brace, latching on to a North/Macllenan move as he thumped the ball home from inside the six yard box.
In the second half Hambleden continued to play football in the Lane End half, but were unable to create any clear cut opportunities.
Simon Hathaway replaced Christopher Sanga with a tactical switch sending Dean Kemp forward.
Dean Kemp and then North were unlucky not to get clean strikes away from inside the area after good approach play by Ryan Kemp, Macllenan and Hathaway. Ryan Kemp then set up Ben Chivers whose blast from distance sailed over.
With 12 minutes remaining Lane End pulled a goal back from a corner. Soon after a long Lane End throw rattled Hambleden and the subsequent corner was this time turned safely away via a Chivers header.
Ryan Kemp could have made the game safe for Hambleden, after clever running saw him in on goal with only the stationary keeper to beat but his effort went wide.
Lane End were making repeated inroads into the Hambleden half. Hathaway, introduced as a substitute, was replaced after twisting a knee bringing another tactical change which saw Brian introduced into a back four.
Brian soon had to guide the ball to safety sidestepping three keen Lane End attackers on the halfway line as Hambleden regained composure.
Tom Colby was introduced for Dean Kemp for his first seasonal start for the club. With four minutes plus injury time to play, Colby almost latched on to a Chivers’ lobbed through ball, not quite having the speed or the chest to take advantage of the bouncing ball which was hooked away from him on the edge of the area in a last ditch Lane End challenge.