Telford’s Home Form Bucks Trend, As Hatters Head Home Defeated
The Hatters suffered a second defeat on the road within four days, as their hosts at the New Bucks Head triumphed by the odd goal in five to end a run of five successive home reverses.
The ‘Bucks’ of Telford went ahead on three occasions in the course of a wet evening heralding the advent of Storm Aileen – and, despite equalisers in the first half from Matty Warburton and debutant Bohan Dixon, a goal by substitute Jordan Murphy, 19 minutes before the end, ultimately sealed County’s fate.
The Hatters took to the field showing four changes from the weekend’s starting line-up at York. With Michael Clarke, Sam Minihan and Harry Winter all ruled out by injury, and Scott Duxbury one of four squad members delayed in traffic due to a motorway closure, Adam Thomas (making his first competitive start in nearly 13 months), Connor Hampson, Dan Cowan and – a day after his arrival from Halifax – Dixon were selected in their places, as part of a 4-2-1-3 formation. Stephen O’Halloran, meanwhile, was handed the captain’s armband in Winter’s absence.
With rain affecting conditions from the outset, a quiet, condensed opening 10 minutes suggested that a rather pedestrian evening’s football was in prospect. But this was a metaphorical calm before the storm, as the remainder of the first half produced an entertaining goal-fest at each end.
With 11 minutes on the clock, the Bucks were awarded a penalty after ex-Hatter John Marsden headed against County’s crossbar, and Matty Warburton was adjudged to have handled Anthony Dwyer’s attempt to convert the rebound. Warburton was booked, while his predecessor number 10 from last season, Marsden, sent Ben Hinchliffe the wrong way from the spot.
But 12 minutes later, the Hatters were level. Warburton atoned in the opposite six-yard box by turning in a low cross on the right from Thomas, who had been fed wide by Jason Oswell.
A flurry of corners followed for both sides with the approach of half-time. And four minutes ahead of the break, Telford were awarded a third in as many minutes after Hinchliffe did well to tip a Dwyer shot beyond the right post. This corner, by Elliot Newby, was cleared – but only back to the taker, whose subsequent cross was rifled home by Marcus Dinanga.
The hosts’ lead was only to last until the stroke of half-time, when Dixon marked his first County appearance in style – outmuscling Marsden 25 yards out, before feinting to shoot at the edge of the box and then drilling a low drive past home goalkeeper Jasbir Singh.
HALF-TIME: Telford 2 (Marsden (penalty), 11; Dinanga, 41), County 2 (Warburton, 23; Dixon, 45).
The Hatters, having brought on Duxbury and Smalley to form a back three with O’Halloran upon the resumption, re-started brightly – with Warburton seeing his shot from 10 yards kept out by Singh, and Dixon’s long-range free kick taking a deflection past the left upright.
But the Bucks were building up a head of steam, and proceeded to put County’s goal under pressure from around the hour-mark. Home captain Shane Sutton failed to convert in front of an open net at the far post, following Jordan Lussey’s corner from the left. And Marsden was twice denied by former team-mate Hinchliffe, who first palmed the ball away from the striker in a one-on-one challenge, before parrying behind a header whilst at full stretch.
Hinchliffe then came to the rescue again, as he saved a low shot by substitute Jordan Murphy from outside the box. But two minutes later, a near-identical effort, courtesy of the same player and after a Newby corner had only been partially cleared, was driven past County’s ‘keeper to give the hosts the lead for a third time – and, as it turned out, decisively.
The Hatters forced four further corners, and efforts from Dixon and Sam Walker fizzed narrowly wide, as County strove once more – but ultimately without success – to get back on level terms.
FULL-TIME: Telford 3 (Marsden (penalty), 11; Dinanga, 41; Murphy, 71), County 2 (Warburton, 23; Dixon, 45).
Team: Hinchliffe, Thomas (Duxbury, 46), Hampson, Ball (T Walker, 84), Cowan, O’Halloran (Capt.), Stephenson (Smalley, 46), S Walker, Oswell, Warburton, Dixon.
Unused Subs: Smith, Brazel.
Reporter: Gareth Evans.
Jim Gannon interview