Felixstowe found flagging
By Ian Dunnett
Hertford Men's 1s returned to winning ways after a few weeks of sub-par performances thanks to four goals from Scott Apps.
Hertford made several changes following from last week’s heavy defeat at Bedford, with Tom Smith, Simon Halfacre, Scott Apps, Taylor Weeks and Jamie O’Sullivan returning, the latter leading the side in captain Ian Dunnett’s absence.
After a sluggish start, with both sides initially struggling to find their rhythm, it was Hertford who broke the deadlock. Jamie O’Sullivan halted a Felixstowe attack down Hertford’s left flank and found Alec Short in space in the middle, who, in turn, set Arthur Twyning free down the right wing. Still with a lot to do, Twyning’s skill won him space from an attentive Felixstowe defender and the teenager then used his pace to leave his marker for dead, driving into the D and squaring for Darren Norman to finish the move with a cool finish past the onrushing keeper.
Hertford quickly added a second as Archie Akers received the ball at the top of the D and, under pressure from two defenders, showed considerable composure to upgrade to a short corner by working the ball onto a Felixstowe foot. As so often this season, Scott Apps took his chance from the resultant set piece, beating the keeper with a fizzing drag flick.
Though the scoreline added a degree of comfort, Hertford didn’t maintain their two-goal advantage as the game entered a scrappy period that delivered Felixstowe their opener. With Hertford a man light, after James Rollins was given a green card for a foot that was adjudged to be delivered, Felixstowe pressed and were rewarded when a Simon Halfacre pass out of defence was intercepted in midfield. The visitors broke in numbers, finding a forward on the right of the D who fed his strike partner at the far post who put away a simple tap-in to reduce the deficit.
Hertford struck back quickly to restore their cushion as a neat interchange between Short and Elliot Barling down the right set Barling free to drive at the Felixstowe baseline in the D. He pulled back to Apps who remained calm to lift the ball over the advancing keeper and into the net for his second and Hertford’s third. Frustratingly, Hertford again conceded shortly before half time as possession was again given away in midfield, and a Felixstowe forward found enough space in the D to turn smartly and rifle home past Smith, to leave the score at 3-2 at the break.
After some firm words in the half time team talk, Hertford emerged from the break with much higher levels of intensity, with which the bare 11 men of Felixstowe were not able to cope. Apps completed his hat trick within minutes of the restart, set up by good work by Darren Norman who beat his man and found Hertford’s leading goal scorer in space in the D. With time to pick his spot, Apps battered the ball high into the net, leaving the keeper with no chance.
With Hertford hitting their stride and Nick Downer pulling the strings from midfield in an all-action performance, they created several more opportunities that were spurned before Twyning added their fifth, deflecting home a dangerous ball from James Rollins, who had driven through the heart of midfield to create space at the top of the D.
Though Hertford remained on top, it was Felixstowe who added the game’s next goal. Smith reacted well in goal to deny a counter-attack, but his save rebounded to an away player at the top of the D, who bundled his way through Ben Tootell’s tackle and beat Smith, who had not had sufficient time to recover from his initial save.
Hertford’s pressure continued and deliver their 6th from a short corner after Downer was unceremoniously halted by a double stick tackle from two visiting defenders as he drove towards the Felixstowe. From there, Apps did the rest with another drag flick giving him his fourth of the game. As the intensity of Hertford’s second half efforts began to take its toll, Felixstowe added the game’s final goal from a short corner, after Tootell was harshly deemed to have stick tackled a Felixstowe forward, who dusted himself off to beat Smith with a drag flick from the set piece.
A 6-4 win for the hosts keeps them level on points with East London in 3rd place - the final promotion spot - but they now face two stern away tests as they travel to fifth-placed Harpenden next, followed by top of the league Bishops Stortford the week after.