Eynesbury Rovers 2 HISTON 2
Uhlsport United Counties League Premier Division South
Thursday 20th April 2023
A makeshift Histon side took a point from their trip to Eynesbury Rovers but had to twice come from behind to deny their hosts the local bragging rights. Max York’s thunderous free kick equalised for Histon just seconds before half time after Victor Osobu had opened the scoring for Rovers. Substitute Roman Lott-Canning then tapped in a second leveller late on to cancel out Axel Ampadu’s goal shortly after the break and set up a tense finish to this derby encounter.
Histon went into the game without several key players following the defeat against Easington Sports just two days earlier. Both Ryan Towner and Connor Barnes had suffered season-ending hamstring injuries and Harry Meats was unavailable for selection. It meant there were places in the starting line-up for youngsters Ben Hurrion and Dexter Todd while Roman Barton and Roman Lott-Canning both had places on the bench.
Luckily for Histon, the Under 18s match scheduled to be played the same evening had been postponed by Haverhill Rovers due to their players having other commitments. Had it not been so, manager Lance Key would have been hard pressed to find eleven fit bodies to take the field in this match. As it was, the required reshuffle meant that Max York was deployed as an emergency No 9, adding further spice to the sub-plot running through this fixture as Max had started the season as an Eynesbury player making five appearances for Rovers before re-joining the Stutes in October.
Max spearheaded the front line with Luke Lindsay and Dexter Todd on either side, leaving Bubba Camara, Ben Hurrion and Marcus Cole as an unfamiliar midfield trio. But as early as the first minute it looked like Lance’s selections may have paid off as Histon swarmed forward. Max York found the space to fire in a shot on the turn which the Rovers goalkeeper could only push skywards. Luke Lindsay reacted first and rose highest to get his head to the ball but directed it over the bar.
The Stutes continued to push forward with Marcus Cole looking influential in a more central role, but too many of Histon’s forward moves were being thwarted by the Assistant’s off-side flag.
As the game settled, Eynesbury began to get a foothold and were using the wide areas to good effect. Long passes out to both flanks were putting the Stutes defence under pressure and top scorer Victor Osobu was proving to be a handful when he got on the ball, but the Eynesbury finishing was found wanting whenever the ball got near the Histon penalty area.
With 30 minutes on the clock, play was held up while both sets of players gathered around their respective management teams for what appeared to be an impromptu “time out” and to take on water and some tactical advice. News later filtered around the crowd of just under a hundred that the break related to the observance of Ramadan and the setting of the sun.
Right from the restart the hosts swept forward with intent. The ball was worked into a dangerous area and an initial shot on goal charged down, but the rebound fell to Osobu who showed all his striker’s instinct by hitting the ball with his first touch into the top corner leaving Sam Roach no chance to react. For the third game running, Histon had conceded the first goal. The question now was how would this very young and weakened Stutes side react to the setback?
Moments later, Marcus Cole was the victim of a tackle that caused temperatures to rise to almost boiling point. The pocket-sized Cole had been punching above his weight for much of the game, both going forward and when fulfilling his defensive duties. But it looked like Marcus’ game was over when a Rovers centre-back lunged a boot towards him as he dribbled through the Rovers back line, catching him on the ankle and sending him tumbling in obvious pain. All eyes were on the Referee and the colour of the card he would produce once the flurry of protests from enraged players had subsided. With an hour left to play, the verdict would be crucial in what had up to this point been a keenly contested affair. The card produced was yellow, which did little to pacify Cole’s team-mates as they surveyed the lengthy marks left by the two studs that had bitten into their colleague’s flesh. After lengthy treatment by physio Craig Galbraith, Cole re-entered the action but was clearly not moving easily.
The resulting free kick from wide on the left was headed off target, but it signalled a shift in the balance of play as Histon went looking for an equaliser. Luke Lindsay had a shot deflected narrowly wide with the goalkeeper committed to the opposite side of the goal and the same player had a looping header bounce onto the top of the crossbar.
With the game still simmering after the earlier incident, Bubba Camara was cautioned for a foul and, shortly after, Max York was caught late about six yards outside the penalty area in a central position and a defensive wall was formed by the home side as York stepped back to take the free kick himself. Given York’s previous connections with the home side, there could have been no doubt in anyone’s mind what his intentions were particularly as the length of the run-up indicated he was going for full power.
As soon as the ball was in flight it was clear that the net was going to bulge and the goalkeeper’s dive was very much in vain as the ball was past him almost before he had moved. The delight on York’s face was clear to see, as if he had settled a personal score of some nature but more importantly the score was level as the players marched off the pitch at the interval.
Less than ten minutes of the second half has passed when Eynesbury were again in the lead. Victor Osobu was again in the action, tormenting Sam Collison at right back. When his low cross came in, Michael Baulk was waiting at the far post with all the time and space he needed to prod the ball in. A second reaction was now needed from the visitors but with 35 minutes remaining, there was no need for panic.
On the hour mark, Lance Key freshened up the Stutes side and changed formation by introducing Roman Barton, Dan Brown and the returning Andrew Henderson into the game. Marcus Cole had bravely soldiered on since his injury but was in no fit state to continue any longer. Brown gave the Rovers defence something else to deal with, operating down the right flank to good effect but as time ticked by the Stutes were leaving spaces at the back as they pushed forward looking for another equaliser. The game had become very stretched and Luke Crisp and Sam Collison were both called upon to make some timely interceptions as the hosts looked to catch the Stutes out on the break.
Not surprisingly the gruelling end of season schedule was having an effect on both sides as they increasingly opted for the long ball forward rather than any intricate play through midfield. It was from one such ball, deep into the heart of Eynesbury territory, that Max York collected on the left of the Rovers penalty area. The defenders seemed slow to get back and as York played a low cross into the goalmouth, up popped Roman Lott-Canning to beat a defender to the ball and tap in from four yards out to record his second First team goal of the season. Lott-Canning had only been on the pitch for six minutes having replaced fellow Under 18s player Dexter Todd, but had impacted on the game in exactly the way Lance had planned.
There was to be no sitting back for the ten minutes of the game that remained as both sides went looking for the winner. However, neither side had come this far just to give the game up in the last few minutes. There was to be a late scare for Histon when a foul by Henderson was adjudged to be just outside the penalty area when many thought otherwise, but the only damage done was a yellow card for the emergency right back.
An even later scare came deep into injury time when Eynesbury had the chance to win the game with a free kick just outside the penalty box, but the shot lacked the power of York’s first half effort and it was safely gathered by keeper Sam Roach.
On the final whistle, a clearly exhausted Histon side went through their cooling down routines in preparation for doing it all again in two days’ time at already relegated Long Buckby. A player who will have fond memories of this game for years to come is Roman Lott-Canning, who started the day thinking he would be playing for the Under 18’s against Haverhill Town TNYL but instead found himself scoring the equaliser for the First team in the UCL Premier South.
Fingers will be crossed that everyone came through the game without injury and that the younger players have no other plans for this Saturday afternoon.
Histon: Sam Roach, Sam Collison, Charlie Tunnell, Bubba Camara, Luke Crisp, Ollie Brookes (Dan Brown 63), Luke Crisp, Ollie Brookes, Dexter Todd (Roman Lott-Canning 65), Ben Hurrion (Roman Barton 55), Max York. Marcus Cole (Andrew Henderson 60), Luke Lindsay.
Histon subs not used: Chris Gough.
Histon yellow cards: Camara, Henderson