By John Hutchinson, Sports Reporter
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
HATFIELD Town are now three points from safety in the SSML Premier Division after a 4-2 defeat against Hertford Town on Saturday.
Even a three-point swing that would put them level with third-bottom Holmer Green wouldn’t probably be enough, with The Blueboys lumbered with a singnificantly worse goal difference (24).
Hatfield are bottom with 28 points (goal difference -64), Hanwell Town are second-bottom, also with 28 but a superior goal difference (-53) and then comes Hanwell in the mini-battle to avoid relegation with 31 points (goal difference of -40).
With Hatfield dropping to the bottom of the league in midweek due to results elsewhere, it became even more important that the team pick up some points from the encounter with derby rivals Hertford played away at Hertingfordbury Park.
But a 4-2 defeat, added to the fact that defenders Sean Sawyer and Sam Hardy were both sent off, has made The Blueboys’ battle even harder.
Town, with Duncan Hardy directing things from the bench, lined up with Sam Lacey in goal. Jay Welsh, Sam Perrin, Sam Hardy and Sean Sawyer in defence. Ashley Dray, Bruce Tahon, Trevor Golder & David Reade in midfield, with Terry Caswell, Lee Newman up front.
Substitutes were Derren Thompson, Ryan North, who was returning from suspension, Lewis Field and Steve O’Boy.
A bumper crowd of 109 saw the game start very open, with both teams having chances but neither able to capitalise. The best chance fell to Hatfield Town’s top-scorer Jay Welsh when Trevor Golder swung in a free-kick to Jay on the far post, but his volley went inches wide.
However, poor defending from a Hertford corner saw the ball headed confidently home by Dave Hunt in the 18th minute to put Hertford in to the lead.
The game continued to be open, with neither team taking control. Lee Newman was unable to take a great chance in the 38th minute, and within seconds Hertford had scored a scrappy goal, again from Hunt, to double their lead.
As the end of the half approached Hatfield continued to create chances, and finally their workrate was rewarded when a long goal-kick from Lacey found Ashley Dray and he calmly drilled low to the keeper’s left to halve the lead.
Although they were behind, Hatfield felt confident they could recover the deficit as they left the field at half-time.
As they returned for the second period, the game continued to be open, and on 53 minutes a cross in to the box saw Terry Caswell get in front of his marker to place an accurate header in to the top right corner of the goal to level the match at 2-2.
Although Hatfield were good for the scoreline, their defending from set pieces was causing problems, and on 65 minutes Hertford took the lead with an uncontested header by Billy Healey.
Hatfield then started to lose their composure, and soon after Sean Sawyer was shown a second yellow card reducing Hatfield to 10 men and creating an uphill task to recover the game.
Hertford started to create chances, and it felt a matter of time before they scored again.
On 78 minutes Hatfield were caught short at the back, and a mistimed tackle gave Hertford a penalty which Dave Hunt duly netted to double his side’s lead and get his hat-trick.
Soon after Hatfield were reduced to nine men as frustration at impending defeat came through; Sam Hardy was shown red.
It was a game that Hatfield had chances to win, and until the sending off a draw seemed a likely outcome.
Things certainly don’t get any easier for Hatfield as they are scheduled to host third-placed AFC Dunstable on Saturday, to be played at Hertingfordbury Park, home of Saturday’s opponents Hertford Town.