Argent hat-trick secures memorable win
Hartley took a large travelling support to local rivals Fleet Town FC following a replay from Saturday afternoon's 1-1 draw at 'Our House'. Ian Jones and Adam Everiss were both missing which gave an opportunity to draft youth product Charlie Bath into the squad. Hartley started the brighter of the two sides creating some good chances. One in particular saw a great move with some quick interplay from Parfitt, Cook and Argent which allowed Parfitt to get a shot off, but it was well saved by the ever ready Fleet Town keeper. Argent came close again five minutes later, but his shot was saved from just outside the six yard box.
The enduring magic of FA Cup was alive and kicking last night as Hartley overcame step 4 side, Fleet Town.
Toby Jannaway started on the right hand side and proved a consistent threat and was well supported by Callum Eagle. The whole back four were impressive throughout and were screened well by Joe Paris who performs that deep defensive role magnificently.
It took twenty minutes for the deadlock to be broken. Shane Hollamby picked up the ball at the back and began creeping forward, then with a great turn of pace, he got past two oncoming midfielders and laid the ball out wide to Steven Duff. Duff who with a quick burst of pace drove the ball to the front post to be met by skipper, Sam Argent, who slotted the ball past the keeper.
We were creating chances, albeit not as many as we were on Saturday. The slope played a massive part in that and as the management team had discussed before the game, we were going to be happier playing up the slope than down it. So to get to half time leading 1-0 was a terrific start. We had been in that position before though. Defensively, we were sound and we limited them to 20 yard pot shots but even those had bodies behind it. We needed to be ruthless in front of goal, the challenge was set to go and score two or three more to kill the game off. Also mindful of limiting the risk of the frantic fifteen minutes of football that can surface with a 1-0 lead towards the end any FA Cup game.
Steven Duff was tremendous last night, he was involved in every goal. He was labelled a potential match winner at half time and he certainly delivered a performance worthy of that title. It was Duff who tracked his runner and muscled the winger off the ball. He then played a pass into the forward running Parfitt who, with two touches, laid a ball to Ross Cook. Ross took the ball in his stride and lashed the ball home upon entry of the penalty area.
It was Duff again who burst down the left hand side to create our third. 'The Train' once again beat his man with pace and power and delivered an inch perfect cross to the ever impressive Sam Argent. It was a terrific finish from Sam, a low diving header and placed in the far corner from his front post position. It's almost an insult to talk about Sam's work-rate as it's so consistent. It comes as standard from our captain. Unbeknownst to most, he was carrying a knock yesterday evening, but still travelled round the park with pace, precision and authority. It was a fine performance from the man who went on to score his hat-trick and our fourth.
The high press that Hartley took led to their right back playing a misplaced pass across the goalkeeper's six yard box. The press continued and the keeper took the decision to dive on the ball and pick it up. The ref awarded an indirect free kick for the pass back offence. Parfitt stood over it and touched the ball for Argent who found the only pocket of space available in the goal and lashed it home.
It was an all round great team performance. We spoke at the end of the game about the importance of the team ethic. We have a squad with a huge range of skill-sets. It's not a hollow sentiment to suggest that when looking across to the bench to see the options we have, it gives you great confidence to know that you can effect the game positively. Those that came on yesterday added to the quality of the game and our play benefitted from their introduction at the stage of the game they were entered. Yet, we still had plenty more options that could have equally positive impacts.
I have to admit on a personal note, I was a little disappointed to listen to the Fleet Town managers debrief of the match. Whether it was intended as a backhanded compliment to ask questions why players would want to play for us (being a step 5 side) or not, I felt the phrasing was a little misplaced. The club works incredibly hard to create an atmosphere, a venue and a supportive network to allow players to enjoy playing for us. Further enhanced by the ambition and hard-work of those behind the scenes, it creates the perfect environment for our players (and management). That can be said for the vast majority of step 5 sides, certainly those that we have faced this season and last.
To ensure I finish on a positive note, I end with this... I feel like this is becoming overly repetitive... however I would like to pass on my sincere thanks to those who travelled to support us last night. Even in terms of numbers it was great, but to hear THE chant echoing from both sides of the ground was amazing. It wouldn't have sounded out of place being the soundtrack to a war scene within the final charge across no-mans-land filmed in slow motion. It was something some of our new players hadn't witnessed before, it was a haunting and powerful sound. We hope the support continues, they'll hopefully be more good times than bad, but we'd like to think you'll be supporting no matter what. The boys will keep working hard for this great club. [DB]