In the corresponding fixture we held out to earn 3 points against a Marshalls side that we knew were much better than result results had suggested. Today's game proved to be the case again and we had to show character and resilience to earn just a point this time. It took only 10 minutes for the game to spark into life and for the second game running it was the referees decision to only show a yellow for a very poor challenge that would impact on the outcome of the game. Sam O'Neill was on the receiving end of a two footed challenge that was late and off the ground. Not only was it reckless it was a dangerous tackle that left our number 4 with an instant wound on the top of his foot and his boot was left torn following the impact. Sadly however the referee failed to determine that either or both of those things warranting the card to be red. Dan Edge had to replace O'Neill and he made an instant impact playing a long pass into the half space for Charlie Hacking to latch onto and fire low and hard for his 7th goal of the season after 16 minutes. It was a clinical finish and signs that our top marksman from last season was getting back to his best. Alex McDonald who had been in great form coming into this game should have doubled our lead getting into a great scoring opportunity but firing over the bar and skipper Paddy Clegg's looping effort was well saved by their keeper. Yet again a controversial penalty was awarded to Marshalls coincidentally by the same referee who gave a similar decision in our previous game vs The Greens back in November. Ethan Danku's challenge was a good one and you could clearly see the ball move in a direction to show he got more than enough contact on it however the ref disagreed and pointed to the spot. It was a cruel blow particularly so close to half time as we had defended excellently and it drew Marshalls level going into the break.
The home side came out the blocks much quicker than we did in the second half but once we settled we began to take control of the game again. We created a number of chances but their keeper was having the game of his life and made at least 4 very good saves. Their number 7 scored an absolute worldy in the 69th minute and it was looking like being one of those days. Thankfully McDonald went on a great run and won a penalty of our own that was converted with coolness by Souley. The ref however refused to show a second yellow card for the offender and it kept the game at 11v11. Surely if the correct decision would have been awarded we'd have taken full advantage of the extra man and momentum may have swung our way to find a winner. Both sides hit the woodwork in the latter stages and the game ended all square. On reflection a draw was probably a fair result but we'll certainly think of it as being 2 points dropped as we wanted to take full advantage as we continue to chase the top 3. We must now pick ourselves up as the tough games just keep coming and it's an away game next Saturday vs second placed All Boys Woolton at Simpsons Ground.