The post Cup exit slump continued as a weakened Old Herts team went down narrowly to lowly Buntingford Wanderers. In what nearly turned into a classic “game of two halves”, Buntingford elected to start with the wind and rain on their backs gaining a two goal advantage by the half time break, leaving Old Herts to rue missing players and missed goal opportunities.
In seventeen league fixtures this season Old Herts have only scored twenty four times and it has cost them valuable points. A “fox in the box” for whatever next season brings is badly needed, as a twenty goal a season man would transform this team!
An early Old Herts attack saw Tanner’s shot go straight to the keeper, but Buntingford came strongly back forcing Bolton to make a save to his left and concede a corner. Within four minutes the home team were ahead, a strong run down their right was not prevented and a hard low shot from the edge of the penalty box was too good for Bolton.
Buntingford Wanderers Reserves 1 Old Herts Athletic 0
It was all Buntingford pressure, Grant being forced to hack the ball away at the back and Chris Burman giving a foul away with a sliding tackle from behind. Moss made a good tackle and then Rob Burman was forced to clear the ball. Buntingford were allowed a header, but Bolton easily caught the ball.
From a Moss throw Tanner fed the ball to Barnes, who turned sharply but his shot was blocked. Jowitt started an attack from the back and a neat move developed involving Chris Burman, Reynolds and Tanner. Chris Burman hit a long ball to Tanner for him to control the ball, but he hit his shot wide.
The ever hard working Christian made a determined run along the right wing, crossing to Barnes, he found Want but the move broke down. Then Chris and Robbie Burman combined to set up Reynolds, but he also could only shoot wide.
Buntingford using the strong wind to their advantage struck a long shot at Bolton, he could only parry the ball and the rebound was knocked in by an alert Buntingford forward from all of two yards out to make it two- nil on 22 minutes.
Buntingford Wanderers Reserves 2 Old Herts Athletic 0
Rob Burman hit the ball square to Reynolds, who then found Moss as Old Herts attempted to play some football on the deck. Rob Burman received a talking to from the referee for an over aggressive challenge, but Buntingford’s free kick went over the bar. Buntingford won the ball in midfield, Jowitt though forcing their player wide.
Want then found Barnes, who gained a corner. This caused a scramble in the Buntingford penalty box, with several shots being blocked before Christian shot over the goal. Old Herts were awarded a free kick when Christian was kicked in the head, the kick was laid back by Tanner to Reynolds, whose well struck low shot hit the post and bounced away! If that had gone in and the away team had only been one goal down at half time, it would have changed the whole nature of the game.
The second half started with some defending by Grant and Jowitt, but there was more determination from Old Herts. Chris Burman had a shot blocked, Barnes challenged the keeper and Tanner had a run and a shot (yet again wide!) as Old Herts exerted pressure. Buntingford were now increasingly playing solely on the break and from one such move they had an opportunity that was dragged wide. The next goal from either side could be vital.
Barnes and Want combined to force a corner. Again there was a scramble in the Buntingford penalty area, again shots were blocked, finally the bouncing ball reached Want inside the six yard box, but he could only manage to scoop the ball over the bar!
Bolton was forced to save a deflected Buntingford free kick with Jowitt clearing the ball. But Barnes, now increasingly in the game up front set Want away again to shoot over. The best football of the match now developed with the ball being played by Chris Burman in midfield to Reynolds, across to Moss, down the wing to Barnes up to Want and finally over to Christian who forced a corner. Jowitt’s shot went wide. Then Christian played the ball up the right wing to Barnes, he turned inside his marker and struck a swerving left foot shot around the keeper and into the far post. So on 75 minutes game now on!
Buntingford Wanderers Reserves 2 Old Herts Athletic 1
Christian had a shot headed over by a Buntingford defender, Reynolds nicked the ball in midfield and played in Chris Burman, he neatly “did” his man and ran forward, but his through ball for Want was too strong and an opportunity was missed (he did admit later in the pub, that the pass was poor, but he also stated that it was of the few occasions that balls were played through from midfield, which is how the game should be played!). Reynolds had shot that was well saved and from a Reynold’s header Grant, playing up front as Old Herts searched for the equalizer, struck the ball over the bar, but Buntingford held on, increasingly frantically for all three points.
The talk in the bar afterwards was all about the end of season bash and peoples’ intentions for next season. I’m not sure what’s gone wrong this year. Losing several important players from last season’s team who were “winners” is one reason, injury and unavailability has been another. Lack of camaraderie off the pitch doesn’t help, as good teams always socialise. Lack of determination and ability has contributed also, but that twenty a season man would have papered over many cracks!