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Woeful 1st half performance proves costly

Lee Saunders  Monday, April 23, 2001  16:18 GMT

Ifield 3 Hurst 1

Hurst’s woeful away record continued as they search for the vital win to keep them in the third division. An appalling first half performance left Hurst with too much to do in the second, although if their finishing had been any better and with a bit more luck they could have taken all three points.
Having met only 5 days earlier both teams made several changes to their line ups, and although Hurst won that encounter they had more chances to seal victory on Saturday!

Hurst had already lost one goalkeeper to injury during the week and when Mansell hurt himself in the warm up things looked ominous.

Ifield started much stronger and sharper, passing the ball around on a bobbly pitch with confidence. Hurst gave the home side far too much room and they took full advantage twice in the first ten minutes. On five minutes Ifield neatly moved the ball out to the right hand touch line, where they were allowed a free cross in to the Hurst box, and the lethal number 10 gleefully headed home, unmarked, past the stricken Mansell. Minutes later another swift piece of play and sloppy marking allowed Ifield to take the ball round a stranded Mansell and square ball for the unmarked forward to put in an empty net.

A fit Mansell would have stopped both those efforts but it must be noted the courage he showed by continuing to half time (a visit to hospital later revealed a dislocated shoulder!). The same can be said about the half fit Charman who replaced Mansell at half time.

The game was played at a very low tempo, yet Hurst were still a long way off their opponents, but somehow they could have been level by half time. Mid way through the first half Burrows rose above the home defence from a Chatfield cross, only to see the ball come back off the bar and cleared away, then Lester missed an open after a fluffed clearance by the keeper.

Hurst were given a rocket at half time and it seemed to do the trick as they totally outplayed the hosts in the second period. Chatfield hit the bar and post on 55 minutes then Lester missed a great opportunity to get into double figures for the season. He finally managed it minutes later when Charman launched a goal kick, the superb Pitt flicked it on and Lester slid the ball under the advancing keeper. Hurst were now flying and the hosts were hanging on. A wonderful piece of skill by Beveridge saw him dance past 3 defenders, before firing over when it seemed easier to score. If it had gone it would have been goal of the season, including the Premiership! Seconds later the home keeper was penalised for timewasting and from the resultant free kick Lester put the ball just wide of the far post. Chatfield then swung over another teasing cross from the left and Burrows should have scored at the far post with a free header but somehow managed to put it wide.
As Hurst pushed men forward Lester saw another shot fly just wide, before the home side broke for a rare attack, winning a free kick just outside the box. The ball was swung into the six yard box and as the ball hit one of the Ifield players on the back of the head it looped over the stranded Charman to seal victory for the home side.

A cruel blow for Hurst but one that was brought on themselves by their appalling first half performance.

Team: Mansell (Charman 45mins), Pitt, Ritchie (Hutchinson 78mins), Rose (Johnson 45 mins), Stevens, Chatfield, Beveridge, Burrows, Lester, Evans, Fogden

Man of the match: Ant Pitt – worked his socks off for this team mates
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