GATE CONTAIN WULFS THREAT
Karl King's second half equaliser saw the Gate earn themselves a hard earned point against a spirited Wulfs side
An entertaining game with a bit of an edge on a perfect night for football, Gate being grateful to come away with a draw whilst Wulfs will no doubt be wondering how they failed to turn long periods of pressure into a win. At the end of the day though equilibrium was probably about fair, Gate taking an early lead and twice having to come from behind against a pacy and creative visiting side, the second equaliser coming seven minutes from the end of a contest which could so easily have swung either way. The point moves Gate into third spot in the MFA table a place guaranteed should they complete the double in what is sure to be a tough encounter with Stourport Swifts in Saturday’s final game of the season.
Manager Lee Adams was able to recall goalkeeper Chris Jay in place of the deputising Sam Hornby who had fitted in so well over the past couple of games but was without the injured Reece Lynch and Richard Robinson, the unavailable Leon Blake and long term injury victims Daryl Jones and Dean Curtis. Although named on the bench Tom Reynolds was carrying a knock which prevented the central defender from starting, Liam Daly making a first full appearance alongside Craig Hall with Danny Rolfe returning at right full back.
Having won the away fixture at the beginning of last December Gate got off to a good start and after Lei Brown found himself marginally offside off Joe Adams’ pass, took an early fourth minute lead. Tom Lacey won the corner from which Adams’ deeply struck flag kick was headed in by Daly beyond the outstretched right glove of keeper Daniel Tipton. Jacob Cramer had previously shown Rolfe a clean pair of heels directing a cross over the face of goal but with no yellow shirt putting in an appearance, Jordan Perks’ through ball eluding a fellow forward to run through to the untroubled Jay. Adams drove a fifteen yarder into Tipton’s hands, Rolfe then releasing Brown for a cross saved by Tipton at Nathan Edgington’s feet.
Despite being behind there was a positive response from the visitors, Rolfe blocking from Andrew Thompson, the ball falling nicely to Bradley Lawley for a shot deflected wide. Play was by now end to end but with Wulfrunians enjoying the better of possession and creating a series of more threatening chances. Jay fell to his left to hold on to another Lawley effort then could only stand and watch as Thompson dragged an opportunity wide, the pressure finally telling when after the ball had been lost in midfield poor defending allowed Lawley to sweep in the seventeenth minute leveller from ten yards out.
At that point and on the balance of play the goal was fully deserved, it taking less than ten more minutes for Liam Haycock to give his side the lead turning Cramer’s pass through Jay’s legs. Jay stood his ground to come out on top in a one on one with Thompson, but after going behind Gate’s play gradually picked up, Karl King narrowly off target with a header off Adams’ corner. Lacey fired a low driven cross into Tipton’s hands, Brown had a firm header kicked off the line, Luke Fuller’s follow up volley charged down. A tangle between Edgington and Nathan Rose-Laing was the pre-cursor to Gate’s second goal after 42 minutes, Adams’ free kick headed in by Brown under Tipton’s cross bar, the hosts going in at the break on level terms but only having looked distinctly second best for the majority of the half.
HT: Highgate United 2 v 2 AFC Wulfrunians
Fuller’s defence splitting pass was just fractionally too long for Brown to get a touch, but Gate continued on the back foot in the early stages, Nathan Pulisciano tackling Thompson on the edge of the box then Jay comfortably holding on to Cramer’s drive. Fuller was high over the bar with a shot after the Wulfs’ defence had failed to clear an Adams’ free kick, play swinging to the other end where Thompson broke down the right before cutting inside to curl the ball beyond Jay’s reach and restore his side’s lead from twenty five yards distance, a 52nd minute goal of the highest quality from a player who had and was to torment Gate’s defence all night.
Once again though Gate raised their game after the set back, Lacey’s strong run enabling King to spread the ball wide on the right, Brown’s shot drilled inches the wrong side of the far upright. Jay saved from Jake Sedgemore and Lawley but the sting had been taken out of Wulf’s play and with Daly pushed up front and resorting to a 4-4-2 formation Gate made their attacking intentions known. Substitute Jordan Adams won a crunching tackle on the right hand side leading to Brown despatching a half volley into Tipton’s body, Daly then close with a drive deflected for a corner but which was to result in the third goal. Adams’ corner kick was headed back across goal King reacting quickest to stretch and head in the equaliser in the resulting goalmouth scramble. In the dying minutes there was still time for Tipton to save well from Brown at the foot of his left hand post and for Hall to come to his side’s rescue with a block from Thompson, two tiring side’s more than pleased to hear the referee’s whistle at the end of a pulsating ninety minutes of football.
Highgate United: Ja;y Lacey; Pulisciano; Daly; Hall; Adams (Joe); Rolfe (Adams Jordan 75); King; Fuller Edgington; Brown; Substitute not used: Reynolds
AFC Wulfrunians: Daniel Tipton; Jake Sedgemore; Ashley Burd; Nathan Rose-Laing; David Asbury; Leigh Brindley; Jacob Cramer; Bradley Lawley; Andrew Thompson; Liam Haycock; Jordan Perks; Substitutes: Craig Gregg; Michael Robertson; Richard Palmer; Gavin Hurren.