Desborough Town 1 HISTON 2
Uhlsport United Counties League Premier Division South
Saturday 15th April 2023
Dan Brown returned from his Easter sabbatical to score a late winner as Histon came from behind to frustrate their hosts at the Waterworks Field, Desborough. After falling behind early in the second half, Ollie Brookes got the Stutes back on level terms before Dan Brown came off the bench to fire his side into the lead and secure all three points for the visitors.
There was little between the two sides in this end of season match that would make little difference to either side’s finishing position, but they served up a game that was in the balance right up to the closing stages.
Lance Key welcomed back two recent absentees to his squad for this game. Ollie Brookes returned to captain the side and play in a back three alongside Luke Crisp and Max York while Dan Brown had to make do with a place on the bench as the manager opted to start the game with Connor Barnes and Luke Lindsay spearheading the attack. The system allowed Charlie Tunnell and Sam Collison the freedom to get forward whenever possible and the two wingbacks caused their fair share of problems for the Dessy Town defence, although the final delivery was often missing.
The game started in lively fashion as both sides created early chances. Bubba Camara found space to fire a shot which cleared the bar and Sam Roach had to get down smartly to push away a shot after some fine approach work by the home side. But as the game settled, the sides began to cancel each other out in what was the fourth meeting between the two clubs this season.
Desborough Town had enjoyed something of a revival after a slow start to the season and now look a more accomplished side than the one that was defeated 5-2 at Bridge Road back in December. Top scorer Iain Blaikie and his striking partner Alvin Magagada kept the Stutes defence on their toes throughout the first half, although Brookes and York were winning the aerial battle. The returning skipper even had time to go on a marauding run down the wing in an effort to lead by example.
Play was mostly confined to the middle third, but what looked like being a turning point in the game came on the half hour mark when Connor Barnes chased a bouncing ball into the Desborough penalty area. The striker had escaped his marker and was now in a one on one footrace to the ball against the advancing goalkeeper. It was a race the striker looked favourite to win from the start and he did so comfortably, nodding the ball beyond the keeper, albeit heading away from the posts.
The collision between striker and goalkeeper that followed made most onlookers wince. It was the kind that nobody wants to see, particularly members of the defending side in their own penalty box. As both players laid sprawling on the turf and looking seriously traumatised by the clash, eyes quickly turned to the Referee for his take on the incident. A gesture towards of the penalty spot seemed to be the inevitable course of action after initial checks on the welfare of the players, but the verdict caught out many in the ground – a free kick to Desborough for a foul on the goalkeeper. The extended period given to both players to recover was mainly filled with heated debate between Histon players and the officials over the decision but, as is always the case, the decision stood.
The half-time discussion was dominated by the one incident. Both sides had their moments during the half but, penalty claim apart, the game had not taken off as a spectacle and the goalless scoreline was a true reflection of this.
Histon were slow to get into their rhythm after the brake and Desborough Town started to impose themselves on the game. Just three minutes into the half, a shot from Desborough’s experienced mid-fielder Liam Boath clipped the bar and, as the pressure mounted on the Histon goal, Magagada was guilty of shooting straight at Sam Roach when he perhaps should have beaten the keeper.
The pressure from the home side was finally rewarded shortly after and Magagada was again involved. A slick move down the right led to the ball being played across the Histon penalty box to Boath who met the ball acrobatically to shoot across Roach and into the far corner of the net.
The goal appeared to wake Histon from their slumber and the action soon switched to the opposite end of the pitch. A corner on the left was the signal for the big guns in the shape of Crisp, York and Brookes to come forward and cause turmoil in front of the Desborough goal. Charlie Tunnell’s corner kick was put behind for a second corner, followed by a third in quick succession. This time it was third time lucky as Tunnell’s floated cross was met by the head of Ollie Brookes who rose unchallenged to head home for his seventh goal of the season. It was all square and everything to play for.
Straight from the restart, and with 30 minutes left to play, Lance Key looked to shake things up by introducing Marcus Cole and Dan Brown into the action. Shortly afterwards, Dexter Todd and Ben Hurrion were to also appear in place of Connor Barnes and Bubba Camara with the gruelling schedule of four games in the next eight days no doubt a factor.
The changes brought fresh energy to the side and it was now the Stutes who looked the more dangerous going forward. Cole and Brown combined well for the latter to hit a shot which the Desborough keeper did well to turn around the post. But as the game started to get a little stretched, Ollie Brookes almost presented a chance to the hosts but did well to recover and prevent a clear chance on goal.
Cole was again the creator when his low ball from the right whizzed across the home goalmouth and just inches away from the outstretched boot of Dexter Todd as he slid in to try to meet the cross. (Think Paul Gascoigne against Germany in Euro 2016 at Wembley and you’ll not be far wrong).
Going into the final stages, it appeared the Stutes were finally getting the upper hand in what had been an evenly contested arm-wrestle for the preceding 80 minutes. Desborough had introduced a flurry of substitutes but were now being pinned into their own half. Their front players were now seeing far less of the ball as Histon went forward in pursuit of a winner.
On 81 minutes, the breakthrough arrived. Ollie Brookes was by now an immoveable object in the heart of defence and his powerful header forward found Dan Brown in a central position on the edge of the home penalty area. The Histon marksman found time to turn before shifted the ball to one side and unleashing a shot on goal. The home goalkeeper dived to his left, only to see the net ripple behind him. After going behind, Histon had turned the game around as they looked to end a run of four games without a win.
The test now was whether the Stutes had the game management skills to see the game out and protect the three points. It was a test they passed with flying colours, limiting the hosts to just one chance in added time which Sam Roach did well to smother. The win means Histon have now completed the league double over the Northants side as well as knocking them out of the FA Cup earlier this season, but this a win which the team had to work for.
The squad now has two days rest before playing the last three games of the season in the space of five days, starting with Easington Sports at Bridge Road on Tuesday night. A winning run to round off our first ever season in the UCL will do no harm whatsoever as the club looks to kick on next season.
Histon: Sam Roach, Sam Collison, Luke Crisp (Marcus Cole 60), Ryan Towner, Max York, Ollie Brookes, Luke Lindsay (Dan Brown 60), Harry Meats, Connor Barnes (Dexter Todd 65), Bubba Camara (Ben Hurrion 72), Charlie Tunnell.
Histon subs not used: Chris Gough.
Histon goal scorers: Ollie Brookes 60, Dan Brown 81.
Histon yellow cards: None.