Dunnett Disappearance overshadowed by Twyning and Tootell Twosomes
Arthur Twyning and Ben Tootell both netted a brace, ensuring 3 more points on the board for Hertford at the expense of relegation fighting Stevenage
Having still been on a high after last weeks crucial victory against Harpenden, Hertford knew they could not get complacent against 10th placed Stevenage on Saturday. The relegation battlers had scored more goals against Hertford than anyone else in the league this season including the teams the Stags had played twice after a 7-4 thriller earlier on in the campaign.
A few changes fell on the line up this week with captain Ian Dunnett missing his first game of the season with Ben Van Rooyen also being unavailable. Arthur Twyning returned to the squad along with Luke Rawlinson also making an appearance having impressed in the Men’s 2s over the previous few weeks. With Dunnett absent, it was the turn of vice captain Jamie O'Sullivan to take charge for the first time this season and ensure another 3 points were added to the tally.
Hertford began the game in their usual high tempo fashion but found themselves struggling to breakdown a stubborn Stevenage defence. The deadlock was however broken when the pace of Luke Rawlinson beat the Stevenage left back and allowed him to drive down the line and cut a pass back to Ciaran Begg in the D. Begg took the ball strong, turned the defender and struck a reverse strike beautifully into the top of the net. Despite the goal advantage Hertford continued to be wary of the pacey Stevenage forward line who were looking to grab a goal on the counter. Simon Halfacre and Ben Tootell had to remain aware at centre back to close down any possible threats.
The second goal followed soon after when Hertford won a short corned after some good, patient build up play in the Stevenage half. Ben Tootell, who was put on injecting duty this week at the absence of Dunnett slotted the ball in for James Rollins at the top of the D who had his shot saved my the keepers right foot, only for the ball to be left in the path of Tootell to sweep home from a yard out. Having gained a 2-0 lead, goals 3 & 4 came soon after. The third came from a well controlled run from Arthur Twyning beating his man down his reverse and drove into the D and drawing the keeper before slotting a pass to Darren Norman who flicked the ball high into the goal beating the man covering the line. Goal number 4 came from the pace of the forward line once again as goal scorer Norman beat the Stevenage right back and drive into the D before sweeping in a reverse pass which beat both the centre back and goal keeper for Twyning to tap in and get his first goal of the game.
With a 4-0 lead at half time, Hertford had been in this position in the previous game and knew Stevenage would come out fighting and try to grab the first goal of the second half. However that wasn’t to be as Hertford made it 5 thanks to a exchange of passes between Norman and Begg in the D saw the keeper make a fine save but at the expense of the rebound coming straight back out to Begg who calmly converted. The second half saw Stevenage have more possession and looked more lethal on the counter attack than in the first half. With several broken down attack thanks to some resilient defending from the back 4 and Ian Pledger in goal, Stevenage did finally get their goal. Having caught Hertford on the counter, they gained an overload in the D which saw the Stevenage forward draw several Hertford players before slotting a pass to a team mate on the Penalty spot who cooly turned and first a reverse stick shot past the right shoulder of Pledger.
At 5-1, the hosts were by no means disheartened and continued to catch Hertford on the break but thanks to several more saves from Pledger and a fluffed 1 on 1 by one of the Stevenage forwards their goal tally remained at 1. Hertford however continued to convert and made it 6 when Nick Downers strike from a Short corner was saved by the keeper but the rebound fell nicely to Simon Halfacre who swept cleanly to the back post where Tootell was waiting to deflect in for his second of the game. Goal 7 came from a very direct style of play from the Stags with a crash ball from Halfacre bypassing the midfield and falling to Norman just inside the Stevenage 23. Norman fired a pass into Arthur who, with his back to goal, made contact with the ball with an outstretched arm and beat the advancing keeper through his legs and into the goal before the chasing back defender could make any attempt to clear. The game was rounded off with a good move from Hertford which began with some keep ball around the back and an intelligent run from Luke Rawlinson who drove down the right side of the D, beat his defender, and put a pass across the D only to find Left Back Jamie O'Sullivan wide open next to the penalty spot to sweep into an empty goal.
Despite this not being the cleanest of Hertford performances they will be pleased with the result and will hope that complacency does not creep up on them next week as they face 12th placed West Herts who they beat 6-0 in the previous fixture.