Long Buckby 3 HISTON 3
Uhlsport United Counties League Premier Division South
Saturday 22nd April 2023
Histon ended their season in chaotic style against bottom club Long Buckby after conceding three penalties and having two players red carded, yet still managed to claim a point from an extraordinary end of season encounter.
A game with absolutely nothing riding on the outcome ended in frantic style as the requirement to play four games in the last eight days of the season finally caught up with a Histon squad that was so over-stretched that Assistant Manager Mark Critoph was called upon to play the last six minutes.
Lance Key again named a side that took account of the welfare of his players after a gruelling weeks’ work. Harry Meats and Ryan Towner were both selected after missing the game two days previously against Eynesbury Rovers, but Sam Roach was an absentee for this final game of the season. Chris Gough was deserving of a place between the sticks after serving as back-up to Roach for most fixtures this season, but the irony of conceding three spot kicks on the rare occasion that penalty save expert Sam Roach was missing from the side will not have gone unnoticed by the Stutes management.
For the first half hour, the game was taking the course that most of those present in this quiet Northamptonshire backwater may have anticipated. The home side’s relegation had been confirmed some weeks previously and they were using the game to blood some younger players who had risen thorough their academy. But it was the visitors looked to be the stronger outfit and when Max York knocked the ball over the last defender for Dan Brown to round the keeper and put the Stutes ahead the writing appeared to be on the wall for the Bucks. Marcus Cole had already grazed the bar with a cross from the right and both York and Brown had efforts saved by the young keeper.
However, a warning against complacency was posted shortly after the goal when Ryan Towner was robbed of possession in his own half, resulting in a run on goal that ended with a short going narrowly wide. However, the warning was not heeded and a ball played through the Stutes defence left Chris Gough totally exposed but before the keeper was asked to make his first serious contribution to the game, Luke Crisp intervened to concede a penalty and earn himself a red card for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity. The penalty was duly despatched into the bottom left corner.
The Stutes responded by moving Max York into his more familiar centre-back position to fill the gap at the back after he had again started as a make-shift centre forward. Dan Brown moved into a more central role and it was the big man who claimed his second goal of the match on the stroke of half time. Ryan Towner sent in a teasing cross that Brown met six yards out from goal to calmly steer home with his right foot.
Histon started the second half looking like they wanted to put the game to bed as early as possible. Half time substitute Luke Lindsay went close and Marcus Cole had a penalty appeal turned down. But within ten minutes of the restart it was all square again when a trip in the box resulted in penalty number two being converted, albeit a lot less convincingly than the first.
To their great credit, the ten men of Histon showed no sign of settling for the draw and took the lead for the third time on 70 minutes. Luke Lindsay was heavily involved in the attack which ended with the ball finding its way to Ryan Towner who slotted home from a tight angle.
But history was to repeat itself when Ollie Brookes took down a Bucks player from behind as he ran through on goal, conceding a third penalty and seeing the inevitable red card. The same player completed his hat-trick of penalties while the Stutes reshuffled their formation having now had both the starting centre-backs dismissed.
But if anyone thought this crazy game couldn’t get any more bonkers they were soon required to think again. Harry Meats, who had gone from strength to strength since coming into the First team at the turn of the year, limped off with 4 minutes of normal time remaining. He was replaced by the last remaining substitute on the Stutes bench, assistant manager Mark Critoph. With expressions of disbelief on the faces of the Histon supporters, Critz took up an attacking midfield position and his first touch was a reverse pass to Luke Lindsay which very nearly set the big striker free before he was thwarted by a last-ditch tackle.
With time running down, the nine men of Histon came close to pulling off the impossible when a Roman Lott-Canning cross had the goalkeeper fumbling the ball against the cross bar but in the final action of the game it took some defensive heroics by Dexter Todd, out-numbered three to one at the back post, to clear the ball away at the second or third attempt.
A game that Histon had led on three occasions ended with a nine-man team hanging on for a point and a Histon debut for Mark Critoph. It was perhaps a fitting end to a mad week and a season that didn’t get going until it was too late but has laid down the foundations for a real challenge in 2023/24.
Histon: Chris Gough, Ben Hurrion (Sam Collison 65), Charlie Tunnell (Roman Lott-Canning 83), Ryan Towner, Luke Crisp, Ollie Brookes, Marcus Cole, Harry Meats (Mark Critoph 86), Max York, Bubba Camara (Luke Lindsay 46), Dan Brown (Dexter Todd 70).
Histon subs not used: None
Histon goal scorers: Dan Brown 22 & 45+1, Ryan Towner 70
Histon yellow cards: Ryan Towner, Marcus Cole
Histon red cards: Ollie Brookes, Luke Crisp