Bushes Sports Club 2 - 2 Hadley Wood & Wingate
By Andy Gerlis
Hadley Wood and Wingate overcame a two goal defecit to draw 2-2 away at Bushey Sports.
A game of few chances, that four goals were scored came as a surprise to those in attendance.
But Bushey took their chances when it mattered, putting themselves 2-0 up with goals in either half.
And despite flurries of Wingate dominance, their first shot on target was Elliot Bailey’s 80th minute penalty conversion.
But with Bushey rocked, Joe Sharpe’s last minute free kick secured a point for the Blues from a game in which a draw seemed the fairest result.
The result means Hadley Wood and Wingate have broken the 50 point barrier and sit comfortably in third place of the Herts Senior Counties League.
A bright start for the visitors saw Cameron Lyttle and Charlie Harris come close, but neither seriously tested Stephen Kirkland.
And right-back Khalil Zakkour ran the entire length of the pitch before curling a shot wide of the post.
But it was the hosts who took the lead after 21 minutes when Gideon Boateng drove forwards unchallenged and saw his shot deflect into the bottom corner.
Bradley’s Marriot’s headed clearance looked to be travelling into his own net but Ross Weinrabe got down smartly to keep it out.
Chances fell for both sides before half time – Lyttle curled his shot from the edge of the area wide while Zakkour had to hook Ralique Lawrence’s cross away from the goalmouth – but Bushey went into the break 1-0 up.
A scrappy start to the second half saw Bushey captain Gary Burrell float a free kick over the bar before Lyttle’s inviting cross at the other end evaded everyone inside the box.
Mariott was on hand to block another Burrell shot that this time seemed to have Weinrabe wrong-footed.
But the hosts grew in to the game and Boateng and Joel Agyeman both came close with their shots after mix ups in Hadley Wood’s defence.
It took 70 minutes before Kirkland had to use his gloves, jumping to catch Charlie Harris’ looping header.
And Bushey’s pressure paid off five minutes later when Lawrence worked his way through the visitors’ defence before laying a pass off to Gabriel Asare-Beco to smash past Weinrabe and put his side 2-0 up.
Wingate would have been forgiven for thinking that meant game over but they refused to give up and were awarded a lifeline with 10 minutes left on the clock.
A handball inside the Bushey area allowed Bailey score his 5th goal in the space of a week from the penalty spot.
At 2-1 and with the wind in their sails Wingate piled the pressure on to a shaky Bushey defence, resulting in an 87th minute free kick on the edge of the area.
Sharpe, returning to the team after an injury sustained on duty for Wingate and Finchley, stepped up and curled the ball into the top corner to pull Hadley Wood level and send the travelling fans into raptures.
Had Harris met Nick Koroushi’s 90th minute cross with a bit more power he may have secured all three points, but his header skimmed wide of Kirkland’s goal and the spoils were shared.
With an average age of just 19.4, Hadley Wood and Wingate’s youthful side displayed an excellent maturity to come back from such an undeserved defecit.
And they will be hopeful of taking the form they showed in the last ten minutes into their match at home to Old Parmiterians on Tuesday.