Hambleden 1 Spartans 2
HAMBLEDEN’S hopes of senior silverware this term all but vanished as they were dumped out of the semi-finals of the League Cup by hardcore rivals Spartans.
Having beaten Hambleden the previous week in a league fixture, Spartans enacted a double, winning 2-1 in a close-fought encounter.
The Hambleden rear guard repelled Spartans’ early advances. Ben Chivers and Mike Wilkins worked hard in midfield but struggled to find space to play any neat football.
Sustained Spartans pressure resulted in a number of free kicks and corners being directed at the Hambleden goal and Ross Hathaway was called upon on more than one occasion to clear the lines.
On 28 minutes Spartans’ Bouncy collected the ball on the edge of the area and his well-placed half strike crept along the ground past a static Ross Hathaway to nestle in the Hambleden goal.
Hambleden levelled in the 34th minute after Dean Kemp was fouled in possession and Macllenan fired the free strike, curling towards the Spartans goal. The Spartans keeper could only parry the dipping ball skywards. Adam Markwell reacted quickest and raced in to head home.
The second period was an uneasy but absorbing spectacle. Neither side allowed the other much time on the ball in a scrappy stop-start affair.
Spartans’ Charley shot from distance as Ross Hathaway could only watch as the ball bounced off the top of the bar and Mushy placed his shot wide when under pressure from Hambleden’s James Rodrigues.
With so many set pieces for both sides it seemed that the game would be settled from one and with eight minutes to go Spartans found the delivery and goal to win the game.
A deep corner eluded all bar Mushy who guided his header back over the Hambleden keeper from an acute angled position past the far post.
Ozzy Dawson, backtracking, headed off the line but the referee with a decision to make signalled for a goal.
Distraught and hard done by, Hambleden protested the double goal line decisions but to no avail.
Chris Brunning was sacrificed with Adam North introduced pushing down the left and Macllenan moving to the attack.
Markwell had to be brave as Spartans’ Bouncy strived to settle the tie and then Markwell found his way belatedly into the book after fouling Charley on the corner of the box one time too many.
With time running out Macllenan had Hambleden’s best chance.
Cutting in from the right side and gliding into the box past three defenders but as Macllenan stood poised he sliced his effort wide of the mark as the audience held its breath.
Ultimately and with slightly more of the game in their favour it was Spartans that progressed and Hambleden who were left to mull over what might have been.