By Harry Ash
Shortwood 2 Malmesbury 2
Some hasty pitch repairs on Saturday morning were rewarded if not by three Shortwood points, then an entertaining, end-to-end clash with Malmesbury, and a second 2-2 draw within a week.
Wood started brightly, taking the lead after fifteen minutes. Bailey Evenson, a late replacement for Max Harper-Emerson who was injured in the warmup, crossed from the left, and keeper Adam Clatworthy could only fumble into the path of Joe Wilton, who had a simple finish from close range. Malmesbury defender Luke Curtis was injured in the move that led to the goal having collided with the post, resulting in a lengthy delay.
Malmesbury were able to rouse themselves shortly after play resumed, and an equaliser came after thirty minutes. Jack Hudson-McVeigh’s free-kick from the right was headed in by an unchallenged Chris Zebroski.
The first half turned on two chances, one for each team, within a minute. First, Lennon Lewis found himself through on goal after a hopeful clearance, but he fired wide of the far post from a tight angle. Moments later, Hudson-McVeigh was brought down by Rob Sims and the Malmesbury captain picked himself up to convert the penalty.
There was still time for two more gilt-edged chances at the end of the first half, with Wilton blasting over having been released by Jai Underwood, before Harrison Archer somehow missed the target after Sims had parried McVeigh-Hudson’s free-kick.
The second half began as the first had ended, with Archer missing a seemingly simple chance. This time, he capitalised on Louis Peyton’s hesitancy, rounded Sims, but scooped his shot over the bar with the goal gaping.
Shortwood clawed their way back into the game soon after, with only a last-ditch challenge from David Hares preventing Wilton baring down on goal. The equaliser came with twenty-five minutes to play, Fin Byrnes finding Lewis just left of centre, allowing him to cut in on his right foot and smash a shot past Clatworthy. Lewis perhaps did well to remain on the pitch for the rest of the game, after a running feud developed between he and some members of the Malmesbury defence.
There was still time for Archer to miss another chance, with an exposed Sims making a good reaction save. Byrnes then found Kyle Gibbs, but he could only find the side-netting from a tight angle.
All in all, it’s difficult to argue against a draw being a fair result, though more clinical finishing from either side may have tilted it in their favour.
All at Shortwood hope Luke Curtis makes a speedy recovery from his injury.
Shortwood: Sims, Evanson, Barrett, Tryner, Peyton, Byrnes, Beecham, Gibbs (Brent), Lewis, Wilton, Underwood