Oliver Fearon’s second half brace proved to be too much for Garforth in a tightly contested match-up at the Bannister Prentice stadium.
In Garforth’s second fixture of the week (the former a goalless draw away to Albion Sports) Hallam arrived at the Bannister Prentice stadium to take on Paul Marshall’s men.
Garforth were long anticipating a difficult tie, with Hallam unbeaten in 5 league matches. The Miners were hoping to use their impressive season long home form to grab an important result but unfortunately just fell short on Saturday afternoon.
Garforth looked to make an impression early doors, beginning with a quick tempo and mounting some pressure onto the Hallam in the opening minute.
But with Hallam’s first attack Town found themselves lucky to get away with one, as following a set piece Oliver Fearon found himself in space and fired the ball into the bottom left corner - fortunately however the striker was flagged down for offside with 3 minutes gone.
Hallam wrestled for the brighter of the two teams playing a series of passes and deliveries into the Garforth penalty area, but Toby Wells remained comfortable in between the sticks gathering the rest of the crosses Dexter Ball and Liam Woods couldn’t clear away.
Garforth’s first chance of the half came just after the 10-minute mark, when Charlie Marshall picked up a ball looped in behind the defence after some trickery from James Burgess, but Hallam centre half Nicolantonio Degrolamo did well to block the winger’s effort on goal.
Hallam goalkeeper Hugo Warhurst picked up what looked to be an ankle injury after 17 minutes, which saw the game paused for a short period whilst he was treated and later deemed fit to carry on.
25 minutes into the game both sides had managed to keep each other quiet with the only effort on goal coming from Garforth fullback Daniel Omosebi who dragged a low driven strike from distance wide past the left post.
Omosebi’s was involved once again a moment later, putting a dangerous ball in to Nick Thompson from down the left flank, which was met by the midfielder’s outstretched boot but he could only volley an effort over the bar.
James Burgess then had his first attempt of the game after 27 minutes played, but his near-post strike was comfortably claimed by Warhurst.
A series of half chances fell before Hallam, as Liam Woods had a heart in mouth moment turning a ball narrowly over his own crossbar, and Bradley Kerr also nearly picked out Oliver Fearon at the far post, with an excellent curling cross that was just short of getting a touch on the end of it.
The sense a goal was forthcoming began to grow past the half hour mark, with both sides looking and getting closer to breaking the deadlock. Sam Barker fired a powerful effort over the Hallam goal after 33 minutes, and James Burgess followed suit for Garforth 3 minutes later.
And perhaps the stalemate should have been broken on the stroke of half time, when Sam Barker found himself in on goal in a 2v2 situation, following a mistake from Hallam left back Tyler Williams. Excruciatingly he narrowly misplaced his through ball to James Burgess, which resulted in the striker fouling his marker Christopher Salt before he could get a shot off.
And with that, the referee blew his whistle and the teams headed back into the changing rooms with the score still tied at 0-0. A fairly level first 45 minutes with each side having their own opportunities but neither really troubling one another’s goal. Both teams remained unchanged for the second period.
Hallam managed to forge the perfect restart as Oliver Fearon opened the scoring with just 3 minutes gone. An early ball that was swung in from Tyler Williams along the left-hand side was brought down by the striker on the penalty spot, and he slotted the ball past Toby Wells into the left corner in what was Hallam’s first clear cut chance of the game.
Garforth struggled to get back on top after the shock of the early goal and both teams fought to keep possession of the ball.
56 minutes into the match Dan Coupland was brought down in the area which was initially whistled for and given as a penalty by the referee, but after a consultation with the linesman he overturned the decision, and a free kick was instead awarded to Hallam.
Garforth’s frustrations amounted even further when a moment later Oliver Fearon punished the Miners with his second goal of the game, as he danced along the touchline of the Garforth penalty area and saw a faint effort bobble its way past Toby Wells and into the side netting.
Matthew Antcliff later returned after a long absence from to injury to replaced Daniel Omosebi in the Garforth backline.
Garforth finally kicked into gear after the second goal and a string of chances came from an amounted period of pressure. James Burgess came the closest to pulling one back for the Miners as his effort from inside the box cannoned off the right post.
With 65 minutes on the clock Nick Thompson went down inside the Hallam area and again a penalty was awarded, but this time there was no question as to the legitimacy of this decision and the referee pointed straight to the spot.
Usual taker and the ever reliable Dan Coupland stepped up to the mark, but his attempt was saved well by outstretched Hugo Warhurst down to his left hand side. The resulting corner also provided no way through for Garforth, for whom you began to feel it wasn’t their day.
Rinor Ejupi was substituted for Duke Witter with 72 minutes gone in effort to add further pressure and finally break through the Hallam back line.
With Garforth still pressing away until the 80 minute mark, Town finally got their breakthrough via James Burgess who smashed the ball home on the half volley to give Garforth a lifeline. Charlie Marshall played the striker in through the middle of the field and Burgess took his chance excellently from just inside the area.
Town had been much deserving of a goal up to this point, and proceeded to launch an onslaught of attacks and pressure as Hallam tried to hang on to their 1 goal advantage for the little time that remained.
Dan Coupland’s side footed effort from the edge of the area looked destined for the top left corner but was tipped over at the final second by Hugo Warhurst on 85 minutes.
Many were left dumbfounded at the sight of 4 minutes additional time after a hectic second period, which ultimately proved not enough for Garforth to salvage something as the final whistle blew to confirm a 2-1 victory for Hallam.
A tough one to take for Paul Marshall and his players as they must again feel disappointed with a result that doesn’t tell the full story of the game, in which it’s hard to dispute the home team being the better side.
However, Hallam’s clinical finishing and use of the few golden opportunities they had is what made the difference along with a strong defensive performance to neutralise Garforth’s attacking threat.
No time to feel sorry for themselves however as the performance overall was solid although unlucky, and it’s a quick turnaround for Garforth’s next fixture which is on the road away to Handsworth in the league cup next Wednesday.