Twyning puts it on a plate as Stags dish it out to Broxbourne
Hertford Men's 1st team put themselves on the verge of securing promotion, beating local rivals Broxbourne 2s five-nil at the Simon Balle ground on Saturday, thanks to four assists from Arthur Twyning (pictured).
The attacking options of Ben van Rooyen and Luke Rawlinson were replaced by James Rollins and 1st team debutante - and club youth coach -
Luke Camilleri, giving Hertford a more balanced feel to the squad.
Hertford should have been well rested, having not played the previous Saturday and with their mid-week training session having been a casualty of the weather. Instead, they appeared rusty and a yard behind their normal pace. The visitors needed little invitation to press the slack play and made things uncomfortable for the first quarter of an hour, combining some skillful players in the centre of the pitch with willing runners up front.
The hosts did manage to gather themselves and started to pass with more urgency, utilising the aerial ball through Jamie O'Sullivan and Nick Downer, in an attempt to diffuse Broxbourne's high-press.
One ball over the top found Darren Norman on the right, who in turn fed Twyning down the line. The teenager drove around his marker and pulled the ball back onto a defender's foot to win a penalty corner.
With van Rooyen absent, Downer took on striking duties, duly dispatching the simplest of routines with an aesthetically pleasing effort, dipping over the keeper's legs and crashing onto the backboard, taking the player-coach into double figures for the season.
The goal settled the home side who began to play with more fluidity, creating some gilt-edged chances. Rollins could have notched-up a brace in as many minutes. Firstly another penalty corner - this time drag-flicked by Downer - came back off the upright, but Rollins' follow-up effort was clawed around the near-post by the net-minder. Then a mazy run in from the left flank looked to have opened up a clear goal-scoring opportunity, but Rollins miscued his shot, with it flicking off the heel of the stick. Fortunately this wrong footed the entire defence and gifted possession to Ciaran Begg on the penalty spot to sweep the ball into the open goal to double the advantage.
It was three-nil on the stroke of half time. Another foray into the danger area by Twyning created hesitation in the Broxbourne defence, and although Twyning was lucky to pick up a rebound from his first attempted pass as the keeper closed him down, he was able to shovel the ball towards goal on his reverse stick. Once more Begg was the grateful recipient, popping up from a few yards out to tap home, doing well to hold off the defender at his back.
Broxbourne redoubled their defensive efforts in the second half, which made for a more turgid affair, characterised by Camilleri's green card as he took more stick than ball when tackling back.
Hertford were forced to adjust further when Ben Tootell - who had been ably shepherding and distributing for most of the game - took umbrage to the absence of a whistle when he saw things differently to an official, somehow escalating his sentence from 2 to 5 minutes before he could leave the field of play.
The hosts saw out the period of being a player short, putting the game to bed shortly afterwards. Ian Dunnett picked the pocket of his man almost on the centre spot, winning possession and driving straight at the circle. Twyning was found offering support again, with Dunnett dropping the ball off to him under his left shoulder. Twyning drew the goalie and last defender, unselfishly sliding the ball back to Dunnett who did well to adjust his feet and finish with a first-time reverse stick effort.
Despite an under-par individual performance, Darren Norman completed the scoring, getting his customary goal. A well worked passing move in from the left enabled Twyning to once more show composure, rolling the ball to his right to give Norman a simple finish at the back post.
Hertford needed to defend a flurry of penalty corners in the closing stages to keep their clean sheet, with Elliot Barling taking one effort to the knee for the cause, but Ian Pledger was rarely troubled as the hosts saw out the final minutes.
A draw next week when Hertford travel to fellow promotion hopefuls Saffron Walden 2s would see the Stags promoted on all but goal difference, with five points needed from their remaining three games to clinch the title.
Hertford - Ian Pledger; Elliot Barling, Simon Halfacre, Ben Tootell, Simon Halfacre, Jamie O'Sullivan; Ian Dunnett, Nick Downer, James Rollins; Darren Norman, Ciaran Begg, Arthur Twyning. Subs: Michael Branford, Luke Camilleri.