Hogan’s A Hero, As Hatters Clip Ravens’ Wings
While Storm Dennis lashed the country, Edgeley Park was one of only three National League venues to host a fixture – albeit under windy and wet conditions. And most worthwhile the event proved, too, as it saw the Hatters finally chalk up their first victory of 2020.
New signing Liam Hogan marked his debut, just a day after arriving in SK3 from Salford City, by scoring the only goal of the game early in the second half – before Ben Hinchliffe performed heroics in County’s goal to keep out the ‘Ravens’ of Bromley.
The Hatters underwent a quintet of changes from their previous line-up that had taken to the field at Dagenham & Redbridge. In addition to central defender Hogan, County’s goal-scorer in East London seven days earlier, Liam McAlinden, together with Sam Minihan, Elliot Osborne and Sam Walker, were handed starts. Lois Maynard was ruled out after rolling his ankle against the ‘Daggers’, while Festus Arthur, Nyal Bell, Eddie Clarke and Connor Dimaio, who all dropped to the bench, were the other players to make way.
Kicking off with the wind behind them, the visitors earned a corner within the first 45 seconds – but before five minutes were on the clock, the Hatters had won two of their own. And from the first of those, delivered by Walker on the right, Adam Thomas headed just wide of the near post.
Just ahead of County’s second corner, Hinchliffe and acting captain Ash Palmer had combined to clear the danger after Luke Coulson had cut in and unleashed a shot from the right. And half a dozen minutes later, Bromley goalkeeper Mark Cousins gathered an effort by Osborne.
Set-piece deliveries were overhit by both sides as they attempted to come to terms with the swirling gusts. But a through-ball on the ground to Michael Cheek almost saw the Ravens go ahead, before Hinchliffe advanced from the line to parry their leading scorer’s shot and then cleanly caught Corey Whiteley’s spinning, looping follow-up.
Danny Lloyd hit the left side-netting from a tight angle five minutes before the end of a half in which the weather, rather than either team, had been largely on top.
HALF-TIME: County 0, Bromley 0.
Driving rain and a stiff breeze both persisted upon the resumption – but only eight minutes after returning to the fray, County took the lead. Walker’s corner from the right was flicked on by Thomas for Hogan to stab home at the far post.
The visitors almost levelled moments later when Joe Kizzi’s delivery from the right was superbly tipped over by Hinchliffe. And the end-to-end fare continued – with Cousins doing well to hold on to a McAlinden shot and Hogan blocking a goal-bound thunderbolt from Cheek.
Each ‘keeper performed further heroics, as Cousins kept out Lloyd after the returning loanee had been played through by Dimaio, and Hinchliffe, at full stretch, tipped Coulson’s strike around the left post.
Two Bromley substitutes combined to good effect, with Billy Bingham’s cross from the left finding Adrian Clifton – only for Hinchliffe to catch the latter’s header. And the visitors ramped up the pressure with six corners in the final quarter of an hour.
But the Hatters held on – and, in doing so, inched up a position to 10th, just one point away from the play-off places.
FULL-TIME: County 1 (Hogan, 53), Bromley 0.
Team (4-2-3-1): Hincliffe; Minihan, Palmer (Capt.), Hogan, Cowan; Keane, Walker; Thomas (Bell, 81), Osborne (Dimaio, 64), Lloyd (Arthur, 89); McAlinden.
Unused Subs: Ormson, Clarke.
Booked: Hogan, Minihan.
Man of the Match: Hinchliffe.
Attendance: 4,611 (97 away).
Reporter: Gareth Evans.
Photographer: Mike Petch.