SORTING KHALSA 3 HISTON 1
Pitching In Northern Premier League Midlands Division
Saturday 23rd April 2022
The record books will show this match as being a fairly comfortable home victory but in reality, it could easily have ended in a five-all draw. Only wasteful approach work from the hosts and some inspired goalkeeping left a score-line that far from reflected the pattern of the match.
With Sam Roach, Rhys Thorpe and Max York all absentees, this was always going to be a tough place to get a result. To make matters even more tricky, the Gaffer had next week’s play-off match in mind when making his team selection. Injuries at this point could prove expensive while other players needed time on the pitch ahead of the season-defining play-off match in seven days’ time. Pat Bexfield was again playing as part of a three-man central defence and, in the absence of Rhys Thorpe, Finley Wilkinson was pushed forward to play along-side Ed Rolph. Chris Gough and Manu Ramirez also made rare appearances in the starting eleven.
The first meaningful action of the game came at the home end when Finley Wilkinson anticipated an Ed Rolph flick-on to find himself one-on-one with the ‘keeper. The make-shift striker’s shot failed to hit the net but it was a warning to the Sports that Histon were not here just for the post-match samosas. The host’s response was a rasping shot from their big central striker Josh McKensie which Chris Gough acrobatically got a hand to before it bounced down off the under-side of the bar and away to safety.
Khalsa’s attacking style was causing problems for the Histon defence, particularly down the flanks. Experienced winger Sean Williams, who is also known for being the brains behind 1980s pop sensation Jive Bunny, was a particular threat and it was his crosses that would ultimately unlock the Stutes defence. His low cross led to a simple tap-in for McKenzie on 33 minutes and the score was doubled ten minutes later through Jurgit Singh as a result of another cross from the right.
Lance replaced Andy Ballester with Charlie Lewis for the second half. Just before the hour mark, Pat Bexfield was forced off with a knock and Lee Smith was to follow him moments later. Bubba Camara and Junior Muyembe were the replacements, but by now the Stutes were chasing a 3-0 deficit. Jurgit Singh had again found the net after a passage of play that would have been closely reviewed by VAR for a foul in the build-up had the game been taking place at the Molineux Stadium just 12 miles up the road.
The substitutions had sharpened up the Histon midfield and cracks were starting to appear in the home side’s defence. Ed Rolph was getting on the ball more frequently and his pass to Manu Ramirez found the Spanish midfielder with a clear shot on goal which the keeper did well to smother.
With 15 minutes left on the clock, Histon pulled a goal back from a corner on the left. Ollie Brookes headed the deep cross back into the goal area where Charlie Lewis was one of several players on hand to bundle the ball over the line.
Histon were now very much in the ascendancy and moments later Ed Rolph had a clear chance from a cross by Ramirez but failed to make contact on the ball with his head. Our captain again came within inches of grabbing a second goal when his shot was superbly turned onto the top of the bar by the home keeper. Histon continued to press but Khalsa were happy to take as long as possible over goal kicks and throw-ins so as to take the sting out of the game.
The Histon fightback was to ultimately run out of time. The final whistle was greeted by smoke flares from the home fans and bhangra music over the tannoy system as the end of season celebrations got under way. The victory meant a highly respectable eighth place finish for Sporting Khalsa in their first season at Step 4 while for Histon the final score was of little consequence. No injuries, no suspensions and a solid work-out ahead of the play-off match was the priority as we now go into the final week of our season looking for an heroic performance to round off a season which no Stutes follower will ever forget.
Histon: Chris Gough, Andy Ballester (Charlie Lewis 46), Pat Bexfield (Bubba Camara 59), Lee Smith (Junior Muyembe 54), Sam Collison, Ollie Brookes, Ed Rolph, Ryan Towner, Finley Wilkinson, Manu Ramirez, Matthew Price.
Histon subs not used: Tobi Lawal, Marcus Cole.
Histon yellow card: Ollie Brookes.
Histon goal scorer: Charlie Lewis (75).