One of the most remarkable second halves of football, left the Hillians in disbelief, but ultimately walking away from Wheatsheaf Park empty handed.
The Hillians instantly began the game on the front foot, with debutant Connor Tighe and Lee Harding causing the home side problems down both flanks. The first real chance for the Hillians fell in the 4th minute, when Lee Harding’s strike whistled just wide of the right hand post. However, it was the home side who took the lead, in the 16th minute, when a loose ball fell to Elliot Buchanan in the box, who made no mistake, slotting the ball underneath the on-rushing Di Bernardo. Staines capitalised on this momentum, and doubled their lead in the 25th minute, as Mohamed Bettamer slotted home from under the bar, following a driven cross from Hippolyte. Having mostly dominated the opening half an hour, the Hillians were baffled to find themselves two goals down at the break.
Whatever Chapman said at half time most certainly worked, as the Hillians came out firing on all cylinders in the second half. Pat Harding had a golden opportunity to half the deficit, in the 47th minute, but the veteran Hillian just couldn’t get the ball out of his feet. The 40 minutes that followed, left everyone at Wheatsheaf Park on the edge of their seats. In the 51st minute, Tighe’s deflected effort looped over ‘keeper Hudnott, and clipped the top of the crossbar. A minute later, Tighe’s strike was, this time, saved brilliantly by Hudnott. The corner, delivered by O’Neill, caused chaos in the Staines penalty area, with the ball being cleared off the line three times in succession! The 56th minute saw centre half Hatton deflected Garrod’s cross onto his own crossbar, seconds later, Garrod’s venomous strike was saved well by the legs of Hudnott. Nobody in the ground could quite believe what they were witnessing, as in the 64th minute, Garrod’s header was again saved by Hudnott, before Elphick’s bullet header was somehow cleared off the line by full-back Webb! As the game approached the 70th minute mark, substitute Aaron Smith-Joseph saw his header bundled off the line, before a goalmouth scramble moments later was somehow cleared by captain Brown. Insult was added to injury in the 78th minute, as Taylor’s scuffed clearance, took a ricochet off Diallo, into the top corner. The Hillians continued to throw the kitchen sink at Staines, and a lack of good fortune was evident again, in the 82nd minute, when Lee Harding’s in-swinging corner evaded everybody, and was yet again cleared off the line! The Hillians finally troubled the scorers, when on 86 minutes, debutant Tighe ghosted in at the back post, to slot home from 6 yards. The game ended with the Hillians continuing to press, without any good fortune.
A truly unbelievable second half of football, which could have easily seen the Hillians walk away with all 3 points, and not even the 1 that they certainly deserved. The efforts of the Hillians couldn’t be questioned, but unfortunately luck is at a premium when you’re struggling at the foot of the table.
We now turn our attention to Tuesday night’s Bostik Premier League fixture against Dorking Wanderers, at the Green Elephants Stadium – 7:30pm kick off. Let’s hope Lady Luck’s diary is free for an hour and a half!