Newport Pagnell Town 0 HISTON 1
Uhlsport United Counties League Premier Division South
Tuesday 14th February 2023
Histon pulled off a major shock on Tuesday night by becoming only the second side to inflict a league defeat on Newport Pagnell Town this season. Luke Lindsay’s second-half winner put a severe dent in the Swan’s hopes of catching Rugby Town at the top of the table and lifts the Stutes up to sixth place in the table, their highest league position of the season so far.
The victory for Histon was all the more remarkable given that two key defenders were missing from the starting lineup and another was forced off through injury in the first half, leaving the visitors to fend off a barrage of attacks in the closing stages with just the bare minimum of defensive players.
Lance was required to shuffle the pack following the 3-0 victory over Lutterworth Town at the weekend. Pat Bexfield had not recovered from the injury he picked up three days earlier Whilst Max York was unavailable. As a result, Luke Crisp dropped into the back line and his place in midfield was taken by Bubba Camara. Luke Lindsay also came into the starting eleven in place of Marcus Cole and for Lindsay it was his first start since pulling a hamstring back in November.
The Stutes arrived at Willen Road with thoughts of the humiliating 4-1 defeat in the FA Cup eighteen months earlier still festering in the memory. Since that occasion, the Swans had been on a winning spree that brought them victory in the FA Vase Final at Wembley last April and put them into the last eight again this year, their latest victory in the competition coming the previous weekend in front of 990 fans crammed into their picturesque Willen Road ground. Many had returned three days later in the expectation of a St Valentines Day massacre of their next opponents.
For this game, it was back to the bread and butter of league football for the Swans and they were up against a Stutes side that had won five of their last six. The home side was quick out of the blocks, finding space and running at the Histon back line but without creating any clear openings. The best of the early chances fell to Luke Lindsay who, after a smart interchange with Connor Barnes, found himself behind the Newport back line and through on goal. After shifting the ball onto his right foot, the resulting shot was disappointingly tame and easily dealt with by a grateful keeper. However, the chance seemed to give the Histon side confidence and gave notice to the Swans that they were in for a difficult evening. This point was emphasized moments later by Connor Barnes who did exceptionally well to close down a defender trying to play out from the back. The Histon striker won the ball cleanly before feeding Bubba Camara whose powerful shot was deflected for a corner.
After matching their opponents in all areas of the field, the Stutes were forced to reorganize just before half time when Luke Crisp collected an injury and substitute Marcus Cole came in to play on the right. But there was still time for Histon to give their hosts another scare when Charlie Tunnell’s right-sided corner caused havoc at the near post before being scrambled away.
The hosts made a shaky start to the second half and their keeper seemed to be all at sea when rushing from his area to dribble the ball toward the left touchline. His attempted clearance turned into a comedy air-shot and a yellow card for preventing the resulting Histon throw-in from being taken.
Soon after, the home keeper was left high and dry by an under-hit back pass that Marcus Cole latched onto at pace. It looked certain that the diminutive Cole’s lob over the stranded stopper would find the unguarded net but, with everyone in the ground holding their breath, it drifted agonizingly wide of the target.
With an hour of the game gone, the home side was starting to look dangerous going forward but had still not learned from their mistakes at the back. After inexplicably coming out of his goal to compete for the ball with his head, the goalkeeper finally pushed his luck that bit too far by fly-hacking an attempted clearance against the foot of the on-rushing Luke Lindsay, who was typically chasing down what looked like a lost cause. The travelling fans behind the goal were in raptures as the ball bounced off the big striker and into the net. It was not the prettiest of goals, but one which was not undeserved for the manner in which the Stutes had stuck to their task.
The home side now needed to find the form that had enabled them to blow away their opponents all season and they were beginning to turn the screw. The play was predominantly in the Histon half but the Stutes were keeping their discipline, limiting Newport to half chances which required only routine saves from Sam Roach in the Histon goal. The Swans flooded forward, leaving spaces at the back that Marcus Cole and substitute Dan Brown looked to capitalize on. Dan Brown worked the ball into a tight angle on the left which required a smart save from the keeper but it was to be Histon’s final attempt on goal.
It was now all about Newport trying to find a way through Histon’s defensive blockade. As the game neared added time, the home side became increasingly desperate. A player going down in the penalty area was greeted with howls for a spot kick but the Referee was having none of it. Neither was he going to stand for Newport players taking out their frustrations on him with acts of dissent, sending one of them to the sin bin with just three minutes left on the clock. The home manager was then also yellow-carded for his protests.
Into injury time and Histon’s engine was clearly running on fumes but there was to be no last-minute drama or heroic deeds and the final whistle was greeted with muted celebrations, mainly because few had the energy left to show their true emotions.
Histon had come through this test looking more like a cohesive team than at any other stage of the current campaign and a far cry from the side that surrendered so meekly on the previous visit. Success breeds success and with 18 points won out of the last 21 on offer, the remainder of the season has suddenly become a lot more interesting.
Histon: Sam Roach, Sam Collison, Jay Rolfe, Ryan Towner, Luke Crisp (Marcus Cole 40), Ollie Brookes, Luke Lindsay, Harry Meats, Connor Barnes (Dan Brown 64), Bubba Camara, Charlie Tunnell.
Histon subs not used: Chris Gough, Ben Hurrion.
Histon yellow cards: Ryan Towner, Ollie Brookes, Marcus Cole.
Histon goal scorer: Luke Lindsay 63