It was Ground Hop Day, this Good Friday, and Dennyfield was expecting their biggest crowd for some time, kick off time had been brought forward to 1.45pm to enable the ground hoppers to get four matches in on the day. The Dennyboy's opponents for the game was Long Eaton United, sitting in seventeenth position in the table, they needed a point to ensure their Premier Division status next season. Thackley were favourites to take all three points having taken twelve from the last fifteen on offer. The home side made one change to the side that started last Saturday's game at Tadcaster, Dempsey Smith coming in for the injured Matty Hall
, Chris Davey
dropping into mid field to accommodate the striker. Sixteen year old Lewis Morgan
, another of the Morgan brothers, making his senior debut, joined the bench. After this week's snow the ground had softened somewhat and looked very green.
Both teams took some time to get into their stride, Thackley appeared to be edging possession but could not hold onto the ball for very long. Nine minutes in, a Paul Whiteley
free kick found James Firth
unmarked but he headed wide. A couple of minutes later, Danny Chambers picked up the ball on the right, he found William Melbis-Blair (that's a mouth full), he played it back to Jacob Webster who was also wide of the mark. Both keepers had easy shots to save, Mark Bower, in the home goal, from Josh Hooley and Scott Webb, for Long Eaton, after a Keenan Ratcliffe run down the right. Bower saved easily after Webster had got on the end of a Webb free kick before Matt Morgan fired over from long range. Morgan crossed to White, he played the ball back to Dempsey Smith who turned, but his shot cleared the bar. Neither side were looking likely to score, the home side were getting the ball but were giving it away before they could get a shot at goal. So it was somewhat of a surprise and against the run of play, that Long Eaton took the lead on twenty six minutes. They had won a couple of corners in quick succession, the second was played into the six yard box and Chambers got his head to it to force the ball into the net. The game continued in the same vain as before, most of the play breaking down before it got within shooting distance of goal. As the game entered the final minutes of the first half, Thackley at last managed to penetrate the Long Eaton box. Brice Tiani had a run down the left, crossed to Callum White, he pulled it back to Smith, who volleyed over. A free kick just inside the Long Eaton half was floated into the area by Morgan. it found Liam Moore on the far post but his header slid past the post. Long Eaton took their one goal advantage in at the break, it had been a poor first half, other than from set pieces, neither side had looked like scoring. It was hoped that the second forty five minutes would be more entertaining for the 300 plus spectators.
Long Eaton made a substitution at the beginning of the SECOND HALF, Ethan Winfield replacing Kyle Thurman. The away side were first to threaten, Melbis-Blair doing well to stay on his feet as he raced into the box but Firth was able to dispossess the away striker. Thackley combined well on occasions and Tiani fired over after he got the ball back from Smith. John Mallinson did well to retrieved the ball following corner, he played the ball back into the box and Moore was wide with his head. With the half ten minutes old the away side brought a save from Bower, the home keeper doing well to get down at the near post and push the ball away, it fell to Melbis-Blair but he shot wide. Webb was then called on to make a save, Smith cutting into the box but the away keeper came out to block his shot with his legs. White headed wide on the hour, after a corner was not cleared and the ball was knocked back into the box. Thackley were doing most of the pressing without really creating a clear opening. They won a couple of corners and Tiani fired over before they did get the chance to level things. Chris Davey
was brought down midway in the away half, Morgan's mishit free kick deceived all the defenders and landed at the feet of Moore, his shot was deflected for a corner when he really should have scored. The corner was taken short and Smith fizzed the ball past the far post. Melbis-Blair cut in and fired over before both sides made substitutions. Taylor Gardner replacing substitute Winfield for Long Eaton, whilst the home side made wholesale changes with a triple substitution, Moore, Tiani and Smith coming off, Lewis Morgan
, Liam Robinson and Jamil Joseph their replacements. Mallinson was pushed up front and Lewis Morgan
took his place in the centre of the defence. The move paid dividends, for on eighty two minutes, the Dennyboys levelled the scores. Hesitation by Webb and a fellow defender, when Matt Morgan played the ball into the box, was seized on by JOHN MALLINSON, who, from the tightest of angles, managed to slot the ball into the net for a deserved equaliser. Webb made a save from a White header before Thackley could have won the game in time added on. Robinson got clear down the right, cut into the box but blasted the ball over when he should have at least tested Webb. The game finished all square, Long Eaton now know they will retain their Premier Division status next season, as for the Dennyboys, they are still on track for a top eight finish.
Unfortunately for the 327 spectators, Thackley and Long Eaton had not been able to produce a feast of football. In fact there was very little goal mouth action in the match, the only plus for the home side, besides salvaging a late point, was the smile on the Treasurer's face.
The Dennyboys play their last home game of the season on Monday against Parkgate, they are then again in action on Wednesday night at Barton Town in the League Cup Semi Final. Both matches are likely to provide more difficult opponents than today, let us hope that Thackley can put in an improved performance on both occasions.
Thackley team : Bower; Ratcliffe; M Morgan (C); Mallinson; Firth; Whiteley; White; Davey; Moore (L Morgan); Tiani (Robinson); Smith (Joseph). Sub not used : Hall.
Long Eaton United team : Webb; Armstrong; Jones; Thurman (Winfield) (Gardner); Marshall; Warman; Webster; Hooley; Chambers; Rickford; Melbis-Blair. Sub not used : Galloway.
Thackley scorer : John Mallinson 82 mins.
Long Eaton United scorer : Danny Chambers 26 mins.
Attendance : 327.
Referee : Stuart Royston.