Shortwood 1 Stonehouse Town 1 – Unisport Hellenic League Division 1
By Harry Ash
Shortwood will feel disappointed to have only come away with a point from the derby with Stonehouse, having dominated the first half in particular.
From the off Stonehouse struggled to deal with passes played in behind their defence. With under ten minutes played, Ollie Price played in Dan Gayner, who tested Adam Clark in the Stonehouse goal from a tight angle. Wood took the lead five minutes later, when Billy Thomas’ long kick was flicked on by Martin Smith, into the path of Gayner, who coolly slotted his finish under the advancing Clark.
Shortwood didn’t ease off, and should have added to their advantage over the next few minutes. Smith smashed a bouncing ball over the bar having been released by Essa Sabally’s throw-in. Gayner and Ryley Mace then combined on the left, but Mace’s shot whistled past the far post. The two then linked up again moments later, with a nice turn from Gayner giving him space to look for the top corner, but he could only clip the top of the crossbar.
Stonehouse were unable to get a foothold in the game, and the Wood chances kept on coming. Midway through the half, Fin Byrnes charged down Nathan Marks’ clearance, before cutting in from the left and testing Clark with a low shot. From the resulting corner, Gayner’s header beat Clark, but Kieran Marks blocked on the line, possibly with a hand, but Shortwood’s appeals were ignored.
If that wasn’t a handball, there certainly should have been one on the half hour mark, when Nathan Marks struggled to deal with a high ball and seemed to control with his arm in the area.
Having somehow survived that onslaught, Stonehouse finally had a chance of their own when Ryan Thwaite met Alex Kibble’s corner, but his header flew just over.
With just under ten minutes of the half to play, Shortwood finally succeeded in winning a penalty, with Gayner being pulled back by Thwaite as they chased a loose ball. Byrnes stepped up, but—for the fourth time already this season—Wood missed from the spot, as Clark saved low to his right-hand side.
It seemed inevitable that Stonehouse would capitalise on Wood’s wastefulness. Sure enough, they levelled the score moments before half time. Kieran Marks cut in from the left, before reversing the ball to Nick Humphreys, who blasted the ball into the near top corner.
The second half was a much tighter contest, with Stonehouse controlling large parts of it. Shortwood’s dominance in duels and second ball retrievals dissipated, as did their composure on the ball. Chances were few and far between at either end. Smith skied after some good work by Sabally and Ryan Dobbins down the right, but the best chance fell to Stonehouse’s Tiger Harris, who hit the crossbar after meeting Humphreys’ cut back.
The draw leaves both teams on eleven points after seven games, with Shortwood in sixth and Stonehouse seventh.
Shortwood: Thomas, Sabally, Ryley Mace, Byrnes, Tryner, Kieron Mace, Molyneux, Price (Bowed 65), Dobbins, Smith, Dan Gayner (Sluman 81)