Hallam’s eight-match unbeaten run hit a bump in the road yesterday afternoon when, watched by another stunning crowd of 439, the Countrymen fell to single -goal defeat to near neighbours Swallownest in Toolstation NCEL Division One. It was game of few chances-and was a contest which won’t live long in the memory of Hallam Manager Stephen Whitehead, write Ian Jones and Glenn Poulton for the Hallam FC Website.
Watched by a huge attendance which included a group of visitors from the Norwegian Travel Service , a party from the University of Sheffield, and by youngsters from Soccer Sixes who acted as ball-boys for the afternoon, both teams fielded attacking line ups as the game kicked off on a surface softened by the recent heavy rainfall but expertly prepared by the ground staff.
Defences dominated in the first half with Hallam kicking downhill. Visiting keeper Joel Statham saved Sam Fewkes shot from distance, and Sam Smith’s header was deflected wide, but the home side were hit by a massive blow when centre back Jack McCarthy was carried off with what looked like a bad knock. Julián Lawrence substituted.
“We never got started today” Steve Whitehead
Into the second half, and the game followed a similar pattern to the first with frequent interventions by the referee, Piotr Zak. On 58 minutes, however, it was the visitors who took the lead, after the Hallam defence failed to clear a long throw from Matt Morton and Nathan Morritt fired home from around the penalty spot.
Stephen Whitehead rang the changes in search of an equalising goal, throwing on Tom Wilson, and with ten minutes left, Swallownest were reduced to ten men when midfielder Tom Cropper saw a second yellow after a tussle with Jordan Turner.
From the resulting free kick, Hallam though that they had an equaliser, but a close-range finish was ruled out for offside. Home skipper Sam Smith was banished to the sin bin for sharing his views on the decision with the Referee’s assistant.
Swallownest held firm through the four minutes of added time to clinch a hard-fought win, leaving Countrymen manager Stephen Whitehead to cut a disconsolate figure when he spoke to Ian and Glenn after the game.
Stephen, the fantastic run comes to an end with a narrow loss to Swallownest today. What were the key factors in the game for you?
“We never got started today. We didn’t create enough chances and conceded to a long throw and the only clear chance Swallownest had. Disappointed to have the run ended in that sort of game where neither side were any good and what I thought was a bad advertisement for our League”
We saw Jack McCarthy go off in the first half with what looked like a serious injury. How is he doing?
“Yeah he’s a big loss for us and we await the report from the scan which he’s had to see the extent of the damage”.
It wasn't a game which flowed, not helped, some might argue, by an idiosyncratic refereeing performance. This didn't help your usual fluent passing game.
“Let’s not talk about the three in black please! I’ve watched the highlights of our goal which was disallowed, and I think the three of them should too, as it’s a perfectly good goal. If I’m honest a draw in a terrible game would have been about right”.
Another fantastic crowd today including visitors from Norway and the University of. Sheffield. The bigger picture must be tremendous for the club.
“A great crowd but a rubbish game to watch. We need to bounce back and fast.
I wish we had a midweek game as the next one can’t come quick enough!”
Stephen Whitehead was talking to the Hallam FC Website