Sikh Hunters 1-0 Gornal Athletic
By Harj Padda
Late Jones winner sends Hunters third
Sikh Hunters moved back into third place in the WMRL Division One table on Saturday courtesy of a battling 1-0 victory over a battling Gornal Athletic side.
Hunters were unchanged from their previous outing against Telford Juniors although there were returns to the matchday squad for Joshua MacGregor and Jay Hewitt after both were unavailable at Telford.
The home side started the much brighter of the two sides and almost opened the scoring inside three minutes. A long ball forward from Ben Lawley was expertly taken in his stride by Dan Jones who advanced on the goalkeeper before crashing an effort off the post with the goalkeeper possibly getting the slightest of touches.
Moments later, the visiting goalkeeper had to be alert once again as Justin Nisbett squeezed his way between the two Gornal centre halves who seemed to leave the ball to each other. Thankfully for them, the goalkeeper came out to smother and the ball was cleared.
The home side were having the better of the ball but were struggling to create clear chances as the visitors defended resolutely. Nisbett went close after good work from Hinesh Patel before Tyrone Atkinson had a close range header saved from a Jones cross at the half drew to a close.
Into the second period and again it was the hosts that started the stronger, Atkinson firing into the side netting during the opening exchanges after being played in by a quick Ashley Smith free kick. To the visitors credit, they continued to throw bodies on the line at every opportunity and were starting to grow in confidence going forward, without testing Liam Haynes in the Hunters goal too frequently.
Hunters manager Matty Lovatt made all three substitutions as his side looked to unlock the visiting backline, including a home debut for recent signing Ryan Thomas, yet the game was to hinge on a dramatic 60 second period with five minutes remaining.
Firstly, Hunters were indebted to Haynes for an unbelievable reflex save at his near post from close range as a Gornal substitute got away from Todd Perry, the ball flying behind for a visiting corner. From that corner, Hunters cleared with Hewitt battled for the ball on halfway. Hewitt did brilliantly to get away from his man and play in Jones who turned inside, ignored the screams of Nisbett in space, instead taking responsibility himself and smashing home a left footed effort high into the net from the edge of the area.
A different type of win to what the home fans have been accustomed to in recent weeks but one just as important and equally enjoyable.
This Saturday, Hunters travel to Wrens Nest for a League fixture. Kick off is at 3pm.