Fabulous first-half takes Hatfield United to three points against Rayners Lane
PUBLISHED: 06:49 03 December 2019
Hatfield United could have been forgiven for thinking history was going to repeat itself against Rayners Lane but they needn't have worried as they fought to a 3-1 victory.
When the teams met at the beginning of November, Rayners Lane hit three in the opening 15 minutes before United fought back to draw 4-4.
They conceded in the first minute of the return at Birchwood too but strikes from Darren O'Brien, Dale Stewart and Curtis Warner ensured the win that lifts them fifth in Herts Senior County League Division One, level on points with their visitors and seven behind leaders Aldenham but with a game in hand.
Misplaced passes and half-hit clearances combined to give Jason Evans the simple task of putting Rayners Lane in front but Hatfield soon settled down and were level on six minutes.
O'Brien had already hit the crossbar direct from a corner before he rode a couple of tackles and smashed the ball home from inside the penalty area.
United were now beginning to dominate play although Rayners Lane always looked dangerous with their fast counter attacks.
But it was always likely that Hatfield would score next and after Warner had been denied on 15 minutes, Stewart put them ahead, robbing a defender and slipping the ball into the corner after drawing the keeper.
United were now rampant and O'Brien almost made it three following a superb cross-field ball from James Upson while Mike Alderman was twice stopped, first by the keeper and then a last-ditch tackle.
But on the stroke of half time they did get number three. Matt Noot put Warner clear and this time he made no mistake with a rasping shot that the keeper got his hands to but couldn't keep out.
The second half was more even and Ryan Moss was required to make a big save 10 minutes in.
The hosts found themselves relying on the quick break although from one of them Warner was fouled as he prepared to pull the trigger and from the resulting free-kick Chris Gray's stooping header was easily saved.
The United goal led a charmed life at times, one passage of play seeing the ball hit the post and the rebound in front of an open net put wide.
But Hatfield held out for a hard-earned three points.