Hartley progress through a difficult FA Cup tie
Straight from the outset, it was clear that Chinnor wanted to slow the pace of the game down, not only in terms of their style of play, but with their bench getting balls back on to the pitch. We found it difficult to raise the tempo of the game in the opening 15 minutes, although Chinnor never troubled our goalkeeper, we couldn't find a rhythm in the game. Distribution was poor, as was the decision making. We became disjointed and neither team took control the game.
Hartley travelled to Abingdon Town's ground to face Chinnor on Saturday 15th August in what turned out to be a difficult FA Cup fixture
We saw a couple of chances go close, Ross Cook turned inside the area but couldn't keep his shot down. Adam Everiss also whipped in a couple of dangerous crosses, but nobody could latch on to the wingers cross. Nevertheless, we were not troubled at the back other than one good save Atkinson made late on in the first half. We were confident we would go on to win the game knowing that we had another 4 gears to shift through.
At half time a few home truths were spoken in the changing room and with a bit of a rallying cry, we perked ourselves up. We began to play with more confidence on the ball and a belief that we would get a result. In the opening few minutes, we managed to carve out some good opportunities, notably down the left hand side, as Everiss had the beating of his man once again. Parfitt and Jones began to orchestrate the midfield and the defence remained solid. Parfitt created a couple of good chances finding the run of Argent & Cook who worked themselves more into the game. It was skipper, Sam Argent, who opened the scoring mid way through the second half. Cook picked up the ball and was about to create an opening but was tackled when the ball fell kindly for the on running Argent. Sam then calmly struck the ball into the corner.
This certainly settled Hartley and we began to once again control possession in good attacking areas. There was one nervy moment when the appeals of Chinnor for a handball in our area were fortunately turned away. The appeals ended up working in our favour as play was waved on by the referee but with Chinnor players still waving their own hands, within three passes the ball had found itself at the feet of Ross Cook who twisted and turned and then passed the ball into the goal with only the keeper to beat. Argent was close to adding his second as he chopped from one foot to the other in the penalty box, with Chinnor defenders sprawled across the floor in what looked like the opening scenes of Saving Private Ryan. His shot was finally blocked by one of those bodies.
It wasn't a pretty win, far from it. I don't really think we ever got out of second gear, but a win in tournament football is all that matters and we can look forward to our home tie against Banbury in a few weeks time. The bus journey home was as lively as ever with the new boys up on the microphone for their karaoke initiations. Thank god they are better footballers than they are singers. [DB]