Darlaston Town (1874) 2-3 Sikh Hunters
By Aaron Muffett
Ten man Hunters end hosts 100% start
Sikh Hunters made it three wins on the bounce on Saturday, sending shockwaves through the WMRL in the process, as they ended Darlaston’s 100% start to the season with a thoroughly deserved 3-2 victory at Bentley Leisure Pavilion. A victory made all the more impressive given the fact they played the vast majority of the game with just ten men.
Hunters showed two changes from the side that beat Bustleholme 7 days previous. Connor Archer returned from suspension to reclaim his position on the right while Mitch Lawley was also back in the side at the expense of the unfortunate Liam Dawson. New boy Tom Oldaker took his place among the substitutes.
Hunters came flying out of the blocks and could have been ahead in the first minute as Hinesh Patel, who would prove to be a constant menace to the home side all afternoon, danced his way past three players before his left footed shot was palmed round the post for a corner. The respite proved only temporary however as three minutes later, Patel was in on goal once again and although the keeper was equal to his effort, he only pushed it out as far as Mitch Lawley, who slotted into the empty net for his first Hunters goal.
The game was being played at a frenetic pace with Hunters clearly up for the occasion, an intensity the home side struggled to match. Hunters keeper Liam Haynes had to be alert to push away a low effort from distance and he was unlucky to concede when the home side levelled the scores just after the quarter hour, making a fantastic save to tip a Darlaston effort onto the bar with Mayne quickest to the rebound to slot home.
A potentially key moment in the game came just minutes later with an altercation on the sideline leading to a melee which the match officials struggled to control. Hunters’ Danny Bell received his matching orders for his involvement while a Darlaston player escaped with a caution despite appearing to have been as guilty, if not more than, as Bell.
The decision only seemed to add more fire to the bellies of the Hunters players, strong challenges going in all over the park along with spells of good football. Half chances came and went for both sides as the half wore on but it was all square at the interval.
The second half started much in the same vein as the first with Hunters on top and first to everything. Justin Nisbett thought he had given Hunters the lead on 51 minutes as his header from Mitch Lawley’s cross hit the crossbar and bounced down, the officials waving away the away sides appeals. They didn’t have to wait too much longer to get their noses in front however as Lawley chased onto a long ball from the Hunters defence. While there appeared to be no danger, Darlaston keeper Pratt then inexplicably allowed the ball to bounce over his head and then compounded his error by bundling Lawley for a penalty, only being spared a red card by a covering defender. Sanjay Malhi stepped up and although Pratt saved the spot kick, Nisbett was there to finish for 2-1.
At this stage it was almost all Hunters with only sporadic attacks from the home side despite the man advantage and it was against the run of play when Darlaston equalised midway through the half. A hopeful ball into the box from the right was punched by Haynes and the ball fortuitously bounced off the onrushing Darlaston player into the net, much to the delight of the previously quiet home faithful.
Unfortunately for them, their delight was to be shortlived as Hunters hit back just two minutes later with a goal fit to win any game. A Hunters corner from the right led to an effort on goal being blocked and as the ball looped into the air, it was met by Oldaker who crashed home a stunning, ferocious volley from 15 yards which kissed the underside of the bar as it flew past Pratt, sending the vocal away support into raptures. A fine way to introduce himself!
There was no thoughts of the away side sitting on their lead and they should have put the game beyond doubt late on, wasting several chances as the home defenders toiled. Lawley put an effort past the post with just the keeper to beat while substitute Atkinson linked up well with Patel before the latter had his effort blocked.
The final whistle was met with loud cheers from the visiting players, staff and fans alike after not only a 3-2 win but a performance of incredible heart, spirit, quality and togetherness against all odds.
This Saturday, Hunters are on the road once again as they travel to face Droitwich Spa hoping to avenge a 4-0 defeat earlier in the season. The club are running a coach at the cost of £10 per seat, those interested can contact the club through our social media channels.