In a match played in every element possible, ending in the midst of a massive hail storm, it was honours even at Church Road as play off chasing Bishop's Stortford twice came from behind to take a point home to Hertfordshire.
Manager Garry Haylock fielded the same 16 that fought so hard against Eastbourne in midweek and they soon got on the score sheet courtesy of a Nevin Saroya spot kick. Liam Collins had threaded a perfect ball into the run of Kieran Knight, the striker being brought down as he tried to round keeper Joe Welsh who was a little lucky to escape with just a yellow card (see left). As he had on Tuesday, the skipper stepped up and confidently netted from the spot.
Just two minutes later we almost had a mirrored incident at the other end as Greg Pearson exchanged passes with Ahmed Deen but the leagues top scorer was denied by Alessio De Angelis who got a hand to the ball at the strikers feet before diving on the loose ball. Pearson continued to be a thorn in the United defence as firstly he set up strike partner Sam Higgins who saw his swerving effort go just wide of the far post and then he knocked down neatly to Tom Champion but he blazed high over the crossbar.
Just past the half hour mark United went close to netting a second, Ram Marwa found Staforde Palmer on the edge of the Blues area and having shifted the ball to make space for his shot the young striker saw Welsh dive full length to push his shot around the post. The resultant corner was partially cleared to Marwa 25 yards from goal and he unleashed a shot that Welsh did very well to stop at the foot of his post.
With just four minutes left in the half both sides found the net. First came a Blues equaliser as Pearson sent Higgins through against De Angelis, the Italian making a fine stop from the initial shot but sadly the loose ball led to a tap in from Deen who had arrived first at the far post. The equilibrium was to last less than 60 seconds though, Saroya planted a free-kick into the area where a full length diving header saw Steve Perkins net his first United goal as the ball flew under Welsh's body.
Just six minutes into the second half and United were almost caught out on the break, too many moved forwards for a corner leaving little cover at the back and as Higgins received the cleared ball upfield he sent Pearson through on his own against De Angelis. Thankfully for United the stopper was in fine form as he dived to deny the striker as he shot from just inside the area.
On the hour with the weather constantly changing from sun to snow it was again De Angelis who kept United's noses in front when he held a vicious free-kick from Deen that had taken a deflection off the defensive wall. With the high winds and varying weather causing havoc it was not surprising that neither side could find much to shout about until the 77th minute when the Blues found a second equaliser. The ball was played through to Higgins in the area, he appeared to miss hit his shot that then struck Pearson and went slowly past De Angelis.
In fact with the weather now in the hail phase, it was the visitors who should really have claimed all three points as Danny Lunan found space on the left and picked out Higgins in the centre but the striker was well off target with his unchallenged header.
Report by Kevin Watts. Photos by Ray Peploe.
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