The Easter derby between Town and United ended in a goalless stalemate with the Saffrons side knocked off the top of the Southern Combination League Premier table after taking just one point from their Easter games.
Despite the saturated pitch being passed fit just 90 minutes before kick-off time, 427 fans, the Saffrons’ biggest crowd of the season, turned out to watch a disappointing local derby, full of effort but sadly lacking in finesse.
For Town, it was two points lost in their neck-and-neck battle with Horsham for the league title. For United, a hard-earned point was the reward for much honest endeavour.
All that was needed was a touch of quality in front of goal although Town’s Nathan Crabb – left on the bench because of his late arrival – came on to hit the woodwork twice. United, though, suffered a major blow when the on-form Bailo Camara was forced off with a hamstring injury within five minutes of the start, Town manager John Lambert said, “We knew it would be a tough game; we had the lion’s share of the play. It seems as if luck has deserted us. Crabbie hit the woodwork twice and on Saturday we missed a penalty.
“We have conceded one goal in the last two games and dropped five points. Today United came to do a job and that was to stop us which they did. But we will go again and keep going until it is mathematically impossible for us to take the title.”
United manager Tobi Hutchinson commented, “It was a typical local derby and difficult conditions in the strong wind. We had chances and I thought we had a stonewall penalty for hands. “I thought nerves got to the players a bit. We are a bit disappointed because we are better than what we showed. Losing Bailo was a big blow. He has been on fire lately and would have been a huge asset for us.
In a near featureless first half Town had the better of the early exchanges with United keeper Callum Christie pulling off a superb save to deny Jason Taylor. At the other end the hard-working Liam Baitup’s shot was blocked by the solid Adam Davidson.
Crabb’s introduction early in the second half certainly added some quality to the Town game. Twice the former Borough man was just inches from getting that all-important goal as well as threading a perfect ball through to fellow sub Jack Turner who squandered the chance.
Christie twice came to United’s rescue, dashing out of his goal to clear from the feet of Kenny Pogue before turning Matt Darby’s ferocious drive over the bar to complete a faultless display between the posts.
But after Crabb had seen his fine effort rebound off the bar, Baithup should have clinched the points for United when, through on his own, his lob went over the advancing Greg Nessling and, as home hearts missed a beat, the bar.
Town: Nessling, Foster, Bolwell, Vickers (Crabb 50), Rogers, Sherriff, Taylor, Darby, Patton, Pogue (Turner 83), Capon (Turner 85). Unused subs: Smith, Willett, Stone.
United: Christie, Lee, Smart, Filsell (Painter 67), Davidson, Featherstone, Cooper, Stevens, Bunn, Baithup, Camara, (Clifford 5), (Painter 86). Unused subs: Hall, Dove, O’Callaghan.
MoM: Callum Christie (crucial saves ensured clean sheet).
Referee: Mr Darren Eaton.
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