Wellingborough Town 2 HISTON 0
Uhlsport United Counties League Premier Division South
Saturday 1st April 2023
A second half penalty and an 88th minute header gave a powerful Wellingborough Town side all three points in a match that was in the balance for much of the afternoon. The game was ultimately decided from the bench as second half substitute Neo Richard-Noel won a penalty and scored a late goal himself to keep his side’s faint promotion hopes alive.
The home side will also point to their choice of kit as being a factor in their victory as they looked to capitalise on their record of being undefeated away from home all season. Gone was the usual home kit of yellow and blue in preference for the grey and black away strip as the Wellingborough management team looked to drain the last drop of any psychological advantage they could get from their away colours. In the end, it may have made all the difference.
For much of the afternoon, the play matched the colour of Wellingborough’s shirts as both sides struggled to find any sparkle in the attack half. Both defences exerted their authority on the game from the start as the forward players on both sides struggled to seriously test the opposition goalkeeper.
Early on, Connor Barnes looked to be through on goal after collecting a pass from Luke Lindsay but he was denied by the assistant’s flag. Histon showed enough invention to keep the hosts on their toes but too often they fell into the well-rehearsed off-side trap set by the hosts. When Wellingborough found themselves in good positions their shooting proved to be well off target, but their biggest threat came from set pieces. Their monstrously long throw-ins represented a stiff challenge to the Stutes rear-guard, but Ollie Brookes and Sam Collison again stood strong in Max York’s continued absence.
With 15 minutes gone, there were worried faces on the Histon bench when Ollie Brookes failed to get to his feet following a clash with a Wellingborough forward. Fingers were crossed that he would not become another name on the list of injured Stutes defenders, but the skipper recovered after treatment to his ribcage. However, he looked to be in some discomfort for a while afterwards. Ollie confirmed after the game that the injury was caused when the striker landed on him as they fell to the ground, resulting in some heavy bruising. “All part and parcel of the game but I’m happy to power through it” he said, adding “agony now though.”
While the captain was still feeling his ribs, a moment of uncharacteristic panic broke out in the home penalty area when Luke Lindsay flicked on a cross from the right, leaving the goalkeeper in no-man’s land. A fumbled attempt to clear the danger only added to the confusion but unfortunately no Histon player was close enough to take advantage. It was a rare moment of goalmouth action to reflect upon as the teams went back to the dressing rooms to review their tactics during the half time break.
For the second half Wellingborough played their ace card, bringing on Neo Richard-Noel who had scored seven goals in his eleven appearances for the club. Lance Key could only dream of having such a player in the visitor’s dugout sitting alongside Chris Gough, Ben Hurrion and a barely fit Luke Crisp. Richard-Noel announced his arrival into the game early on with a powerful run that required some sharp work by Charlie Tunnell to halt the burly striker.
The game was mainly being played in the middle third of the pitch with neither side gaining supremacy. Histon were mixing their game up well with Ryan Towner and Harry Meats playing some neat football on the ground, but a route could be found through a well organised home defensive line.
Just before the hour mark, Richard-Noel set off on another dribble down the right channel. As he burst into the Histon penalty area he stumbled over Marcus Cole who had come across to the left to force him wide. The Referee was well up with play and did not hesitate in pointing to the penalty spot. Up stepped Wellingborough’s top scorer Tom Iaciofano looking to add to his 15 goals this season and to end Sam’s Roach’s record of saving the last three penalties that had been on target. As Roach dived to his right, the striker’s penalty kick went to his left and the deadlock was broken. Given the pattern of play up to that point and the dominance of both defences, a penalty seemed to be the only way either team would score.
From the re-start, the Stutes looked to step up the attacking threat and nearly got their reward. Ryan Towner brought the ball out of defence and slipped a pass to Luke Lindsay, who jinked past his man to create a yard of space. Big Luke’s shot was on target but the home goalkeeper sprang to his left to push the ball away for a corner.
Histon now looked to change the game by bringing on Luke Crisp to form a back three, allowing Marcus Cole to move into a more familiar role further up the pitch. Wellingborough were required to respond and were now sitting back, relying on long balls and break-aways as their main threat going forward. The Stutes now looked dangerous on both flanks with crosses being played into the ‘boro penalty area.
Histon were building the pressure on the home goal and a breakthrough looked to be on when the home keeper was unable to hold Ryan Towner’s shot and Marcus nipped in to pick up the rebound. With the goal begging, the Referee halted play, adjudging that Cole had kicked to ball out of the keeper’s hands. There were others in the ground who thought otherwise.
Histon were committing players forward in pursuit of an equalising goal, which in turn left space a the back for Wellingborough to exploit. Charlie Tunnell did well to make a last-ditch tackle before picking up a yellow card for another more robust and less well-timed challenge.
But it was from another break forward that Wellingborough sealed the win in the 88th minute. A cross from the left found the Histon defence short of numbers and Neo Richard-Noel guided a header past Roach from five yards out. It was game over and a second successive away defeat for the Stutes. It was also the first time Histon had been held goalless in eleven matches, a run stretching back to early January. This alone is testament to a Wellingborough side who’s strong showing this season is built on a solid defence.
Reflecting on the game, Assistant Manager Mark Critoph said, “their half time substitute impacted on the game when he came on. He won the penalty and then scored himself late on, so he was a good substitution for them to make.”
Dan Brown commented on Histon’s failure in front of goal after the game saying “Myself and the other forward players didn’t do enough today. The few chances we made weren’t enough to win any game. But Wellingborough didn’t get many chances either.”
Perhaps surprisingly, the crowd of 105 at the Dog and Duck Ground was a little down on average, particularly as it included some 20-25 Stutes fans. In a town with a population of over 56,000 the Doughboys may be wondering what they need to do to win over the locals.
Histon: Sam Roach, Marcus Cole, Charlie Tunnell, Ryan Towner, Sam Collison, Ollie Brookes, Luke Lindsay, Harry Meats, Connor Barnes, Bubba Camara (Ben Hurrion 80), Dan Brown (Luke Crisp 68).
Histon subs not used: Chris Gough.
Histon yellow cards: Bubba Camara, Charlie Tunnell.