Chequers began their 2014/15 league campaign with a hard-fought draw away to Leighton Town Sunday at a sunny Pages Park.
Chris Wills started at left back as Jon Onyon joined Dean Hinton up front. Stu Rolls and Chris Fagan were reunited in central defence, with Tom Tracy moving to right back. Tim Warne retained his starting place on the left wing, captain Wayne Mardel continued down the right, and Rob Mardell and Gavin O’Brien occupied the centre of the park.
Chequers were almost in front inside the first minute, as Tim Warne’s rasping drive was acrobatically turned away by the Leighton Town ‘keeper. The game was very open, and the sides exchanged off-target efforts as they sought the opening goal. Unfortunately, it was the hosts who took the lead after half an hour after some inexplicable defending from Chequers, especially with Rolls and Fagan starting the game so strongly. An inoccuous pass from midfield was dummied by a forward, and somehow his unmarked strike partner was left in acres of space to stride through and finish low into the corner past Roullier for 1-0. In typical Chequers fashion the deficit could easily have been doubled instantly, as again the Chequers defence switched off and allowed a pass to find its way right across the face of goal only for Roullier to stop the point-blank drive with his legs. That missed chance proved pivotal, as right on the stroke of half time Chequers were level. Mardell chipped a perfect through-ball to Hinton who smashed a low half-volley into the bottom corner from a tight angle to restore parity at 1-1. Another superb finish from the big striker who looks to be in excellent form.
Chequers were on the back foot somewhat in the second half after a sickening injury to Stu Rolls. The imposing defender collided with a teammate and twisted his knee, causing a long pause in the match as the medical staff assessed the situation. Michael Towler replaced Rolls as Tracy moved in the centre of defence. The home side could (and probably should) have re-taken the lead shortly after. Poor marking at a corner saw a Leighton Town player hit the bar with a header, and as the rebound was turned goalwards it appeared to strike Towler’s arm before hitting Roullier in the face, who was just able to hold onto the ball in the melee. Some opposition players shouted for a penalty, others claiming the ball had crossed the line, but the referee gave neither and Chequers somehow escaped. Hinton then had the chance to double his tally for the day, but his tame effort was easily saved by the goalkeeper. Jon Onyon was replaced in attack in an attempt to go on and win the game, but unfortunately more poor defending saw Chequers behind again after Tracy’s cynical foul gave the home side a set piece out wide. The defensive line was too high, allowing the excellent delivery to be turned in at the far post for 2-1. However, the Purples are made of stern stuff these days and got themselves level almost instantly. Mardel’s accurate cross was met with a pinpoint header by Hinton into the far corner to make the score 2-2. Leighton Town had the better of the final 20 minutes, forcing a succession of corners and testing Roullier with a volley on the angle. Neither side could find a winner, but Fagan was extremely lucky to escape without serious injury as a horrific tackle saw a bout of pushing and shoving, but the referee chose to keep his cards in his pocket.
This was a decent draw against tough opposition, and Chequers should be pleased with a point having been behind twice.
Man of the Match went to Dean Hinton for his brace of goals.