National League South Sat 20 August The Crucial Environmental Stadium

Once again Boss Adam Hinshelwood shuffled his pack, recalling Captain Aarran Racine, Marvin Armstrong, Nodirbek Bobomurodov and James Beresford. Leading to places on the bench for Cam Tutt, Dan Bowry and Danny Barker but not even that for Mo Jammeh and Lewis White, which resulted in a return to the matchday squad for Adam Adam.

An out-of-sorts home team lacked fluidity to begin with, passes often going astray, although both sides suffered from a distinct lack of creativity as they struggled to create anything at all going forward.

In fact it took a full fifteen minutes before anything resembling a meaningful attack occurred.

Aaron Simpson’s foul on Joel Colbran a yard or two in from the right-hand touchline saw the hosts awarded a free-kick. Bobobmurodov took it and floated deep towards the far post, where Joe Rye headed straight back into the danger zone only for it to be cleared with immediate effect by a Bluebirds defender.

Barely sixty seconds later, a rare passage of accurate, controlled passing saw Bobomurodov slip in Armstrong who, in fairness, did well to keep possession. Faced with a sea of blue shirts, Marv eventually got a second go at shooting but couldn’t get enough power on his shot and it trickled harmlessly wide of the goalkeeper’s left upright.

The first save of the afternoon came via the gloves of home number one Harrison Male when a well-worked corner routine produced an instant effort on target by Joe Hanks, breaking away from the pack to connect with Alefe Santos D’Abadia’s set-piece.

Approaching the interval, Armstrong almost ignited a move that ended with his side gaining an undeserved advantage.

Drifting across the top edge of the penalty area, he checked back and allowed Bobomurodov to slide a pass into Ollie Pearce who forced the previously unemployed Will Henry to push onto the crossbar and behind for a flag-kick.

After a nondescript opening period, the second kicked-off with Adam on for his competitive Senior debut in place of Bobomurodov.

However, the visitors were quicker out of the blocks, although it was more of a false start than a medal contending moment; D’Abadia turning and larrupping off target from a rather desperate looking twenty-five yards.

For a brief moment it looked like Pearce would be the one to make the breakthrough, though ultimately his attempt swung away from the back stick following an inside-left channel slide rule assist by the right foot of Kane Wills.

Reds raided down the right when Reece Myles-Meekums cut inside and found Pearce who, in turn, found Adam but he could only fire a cross straight into the hands of Henry.

Rye then brought the ball out of defence before picking out Meeky who’s delivery this time was placed the wrong side of the front stick by Adam.

The game was beginning to open up and Town countered with D’Abadia teeing-up the recently introduced Joe Parker, on the verge of the eighteen yard box, to draw a parry out of Male.

Myles-Meekums then resumed his mission on the far side but Eddie Jones arrived on the end of his cross in semi-glorious symmetry, deflecting behind for a dead-ball decision just ahead of Armstrong.

Something that Luke Russe replicated when the former Bristol Rovers protege ensured a quick break upfield failed to result in anything more than Colbran’s final ball culminating in a corner.

Unfortunately – and unintentionally – Cal Kealy blocked JC’s follow-up effort, shortly after a centrally-placed Seb Palmer-Houlden had headed over from Parker’s tantalising teaser off the left wing.

Racine’s goalward nod lacked power during his rising to meet Pearce’s delivery from the opposite flank, although he rapidly redeemed himself by putting his modelling career on the line; stepping in to make certain his money-maker diverted substitute Jordan Young’s attempt out for a corner-kick, with the clock ticking towards the conclusion of a frustrating afternoon.

More blocking materialised in the last minute of the normal ninety, thanks to Henry denying a close-range Kealy and Colbran could only watch as his stoppage-time drive deflected above the bar, following The parting of the Blue Sea.

There was still enough left in the match for one final flurry in which Henry frustrated Kealy again, when he seemed certain to score. The striker’s snapshot well saved in a tip round the upright as the ball threatened to sneak inside the apparatus.