A game of two halves
Rovers denied a dramatic late win by the linesman’s flag as Egham fight back from two goals down in a cliched game of two halves
Following Rovers cold, wet Tuesday night, we had a story book game of two halves that was robbed of a fairy tale ending by a linesman who clearly left his cliche dictionary at home.
Following a run of three defeats, Rovers started much brighter than in recent games and were pressing and winning the ball back in the middle of the park as well as keeping possession and playing the ball around. The first quarter hour whizzed by without any clear cut goal mouth action, but in the sixteenth minute saw Rovers win a free kick on the edge of the box as Jamaine Ivy was brought down rather needlessly. Ben Shepherd line up the kick, just to the left of the middle about twenty five yards out. The midfielder stepped up and curled the ball beautifully into the top left corner of the net. The relief was palpable and with going in front, Rovers saw some of the confidence that had ebbed away in the last few games restored. On the twenty minute mark, there was a let off as Matt Woods turned in the Rovers area and decided to take a tumble, the visitors were adamant that it was a ‘cast iron’ penalty, however, the referee asked to speak with the Egham captain Wiseman when play went dead to advise him that his team mate was not endearing himself with theatrics. Kempston nearly helped Egham to an equaliser on the half hour, a free kick pumped into the box by Phillips was met by the head of Robbie Goodman, heading toward his own goal. Disaster was averted by the brilliant acrobatics of Martin Conway. Goodman got on the end of another free kick three minutes later, at the right end. Flicking on Ash Fuller’s deep dead ball and finding the bottom corner for two nil. Jake Newman had a close range shot saved and Fuller saw a stinging volley blocked before the half time whistle. Rovers went to the locker room two goals up and playing very well.
Seven minutes into the second half, Egham clawed themselves back into the game. A corner from the right was not properly cleared and another footballing cliche, the goal mouth scramble ensued. Brendan Matthew got the final touch over the line to cut the lead to a single goal. Two minutes later, Woods found himself in the referee’s notebook, earning a caution for a trip on Shepherd. A small scuffle followed the foul, but the official chose not to take any further action than one yellow card. Fifteen minutes from the end, Rovers tried to break out from defending a corner. Jamaine Ivy, attempting to get to the ball, was adjudged to have impeded the Egham man for a very soft penalty. Matthew put the penalty straight down the middle to level the scores. Conway was forced into action to keep the scores level, saving a vicious volley from Cole low to his left. Three minutes from the end, Grant Fryer met a deep free kick with a flying header, which was palmed away by Ohman in the Egham goal, who got up superbly to deny sub Sam Johnson on the follow up. The following corner was delayed for Fryer to receive treatment after he clashed heads with a defender going for the original ball. Fryer was stretchered from the field and was visibly unwell as he was applauded from the pitch. In the dressing room he was fliting in and out of consciousness. He left the ground in an ambulance. Rovers physio Colin Hodsden said the player was stable as he was taken by ambulance to hospital. Everyone at the club wishes him a speedy recovery. In the time added on for the lengthy stoppage, Rovers thought they had won it as Johnson crossed for Newman to head home, but the linesman deemed Rovers top scorer to be offside.
The match may have ended as a draw, but Rovers will take many positives from a cliched game of two halves, they may have been sick as a parrot at not holding on to the lead, but will be over the moon at some of their first half play and if Ben Shepherd had tangled with visiting skipper Wiseman, there would surely have been a nativity-fuelled flurry of puns as well.
Rovers will play host to our good friends Chalfont St. Peter on Tuesday evening. The fixture later in the month at home to Thame United is to be re-scheduled as a result of their progress in the FA Trophy.