Points shared as each team dominates a half
Ross Cook scores his third in as many games, which sees Hartley remain unbeaten for the 6th straight game. The Row had taken the lead through Lukas Burt after some good work from Ross Cook, who crossed the ball to the on-running Burt who slotted the ball home.
Two points lost, sadly. We had enough chances in the first half to kill the game but allowed them back in it in the second half.
'The Baggies' had a great chance to equalise from a corner but the tall centre back headed wide. Hartley limited Badshot's chances and pressed the ball in high areas; we regained the ball in dangerous areas which allowed the dangerous Ross Cook to probe their defensive line.
The combination of Josh Drew and Lukas Burt was proving effective and causing Badshot problems. It was Lukas Burt who was put through down the line by a quick throw taken by Tom Walsh, he burst down the line with great speed and delivered a pin point cross to pick out Ross Cook, who nodded the ball past the keeper.
Sadly, Josh Drew had to be replaced following a hamstring injury - Marc Vockins came on to replace him and found himself instantly involved with a great chance to further extend Hartley's lead. Ian Jones burst through midfield and he found Vockins in space, but on the muddy pitch he scuffed his shot.
Hartley had dominated the first half and went in at half time 2-0 up.
Badshot started the brighter of the two teams in the second half, playing very direct football. Their centre backs, launching the ball into positions that in the first half were going off the pitch or straight to Hartley players, this time were managing to find areas for Badshot to move into. They created a number of chances, and if it was not for the heroics of in-form keeper Craig Atkinson, we could have conceded early on.
Hartley found themselves playing very deep and lost the ownership of the midfield that they had earlier dictated. Gaps were either too big or we sat back as a unit, too deep, and we could not seem to find a balance as we were, meanwhile, trying to deal with the ball being peppered into our box from distance. We conceded a soft goal, although it was a great original shot that hit the post. Badshot reacted quicker and picked up the rebound just outside the 6 yard box. This gave Badshot an added confidence to their already growing belief.
Hartley had a couple of chances beaten away by the goalkeeper, but the ball was returning pretty quickly. Losing Josh Drew early on in the game made a big impact, as Josh's ability to hold the ball was lost, a skill that in those situations is vital; sadly, losing Josh, and with the injured Hollamby not in the squad, we had no natural face. Cook and Burt continued to look dangerous when in possession, but Cook for large proportions of the second half found himself isolated.
It was coming to the closing stages of the game - it seemed to take an eternity for this game to finish. Badshot were awarded a corner, it was loaded into a busy area and somehow, to Hartley's dismay, was bustled into the goal. The game ended within seconds of the restart. Two points lost, sadly; as Dills said, we believe we had enough chances in the first half to kill the game and we allowed them back in it the second half. However, we remain unbeaten now in 6 games and there are plenty of positives to take away from the performance. Ross Cook scoring three goals in three games and looking a constant threat, whilst at the other end you have Craig Atkinson demonstrating his continued high standards.
We now host Cove FC on Saturday afternoon in a run of tough fixtures including in-form Raynes Park Vale and Camberley. We would like to thank those that travelled to the game for your continued support. The boys always appreciate your efforts. [DB]