A point apiece for hosts Ollerton Town and Hallam at a windswept Fast Frame yesterday afternoon after a hard-fought contest of few real chances, write Ian Jones and John Wiseman for www.Hallamfc.co.uk
The game turned on a penalty awarded to Hallam just on the hour, but home keeper Levi Owen added to his growing tally of spot-kick saves by keeping out Sam Smith’s effort.
The draw, watched by a crowd of 112, leaves Hallam in eleventh place, eleven points adrift of the automatic promotion places, and moves Ollerton a further precious point above the relegation spots.
On a fine playing surface given the recent weather, The game started with Hallam attacking the Walesby lane end with a strong wind blowing from their right to left , but it was the hosts who very nearly got the game off to a sensational start, with James Leverton called upon to push a long-range half volley over the bar.
Whitehead “We need to be scoring from twelve yards and Sam knows that”
Hallam responded be creating a few chances of their own, and in the tenth minute, a fierce Jordan Turner free kick was pushed onto the left hand post and to safety by goalkeeper Owen; and although Leverton made another brilliant save from distance on the half hour, Hallam finished the first half the stronger, with Turner lobbing the keeper-and the crossbar- after 40 minutes., and felloe striker Sam Smith headed past Owen only for home defender George Slack to clear acrobatically and ensure that the first half ended goalless.
In the cold wind, the cracking volunteers in the home tea home tea bar were doing a brisk trade during the interval as the paying customers sought to avoid hypothermia, but the second half started much as the first had ended, with Jordan Turner rattling the crossbar one minute in, and again lobbing the onrushing Owen only to see the ball land on the roof of the net as Hallam attacked the Blyth Road end.
Almost on the hour, though, the visitors were handed a golden opportunity to take a vital lead when Lewis Murr handled under pressure in the Ollerton penalty area. It looked soft, but Sheffield referee Lee Bramley clearly saw intent and yellow-carded Murr for his role in the incident. Sam Smith stepped up confidently, but Owen guessed correctly, diving to his left to pull off a fine save.
Ollerton finished strongly, forcing James Leverton into a fine save low down to his left, but added time came and went and the whistle blew to confirm stalemate and a share of the spoils.
Next week, Ollerton travel to ninth-placed Armthorpe Welfare, whilst Hallam host League leaders Skegness Town.
Ian and John caught up with Countryman Manager Stephen Whitehead after the game and started by asking him to sum up the afternoon.
It was a game of few chances, so how crucial was the penalty?
The clean sheet was really important for us as we haven’t had one in a while. It’s a game of missed chances for us especially the penalty in tight games like this and with the conditions to take into consideration we need to be scoring from 12 yards and Sam knows that.
I thought the back three were assured and Kiyani (Clayton) had a really good game.
Next up is a massive game with Skegness Town at Sandygate. What should we expect from Nathan Collins team?
They’re the League leaders so it will be a tough afternoon- but one that we look forward to. If the lads can’t get up for games like this then they are in the wrong changing room
Stephen Whitehead was talking to www.hallamfc.co.uk
You can catch @NigelOwen65 ’s brilliant match photographs at his Flickr.com account