Pewits beaten again but not disgraced
By Martin Eastwood
10 men go down in Sheffield
AFC Emley started 2019 like they ended 2018, with another defeat and another red card, but they were far from disgraced at a very good Hallam FC side in Sheffield,and played the entire second half with only 10 men.
In a new era for Emley, with Marlon Adams as interim manager and Darren Hepworth back at the club as assistant,Emley started well, playing down the Sandygate slope and taking the game to their hosts straight away.
But it wasn't until the 8th minute that either side had a clear chance, Emley were awarded a free kick outside the area, which Dan Stocker fired into the wall and the danger was cleared, Hallam had a couple of chances then that were well dealt with by the returning George Clarke
in goal for the Pewits.Gregg Porter
was booked for a late challenge,as the midfield battle hotted up whilst the temperature began to drop like a stone in the late afternoon.
Keeper Clarke then turned provider for Emley, as his long kick downfield fell nicely for Daniel Naidole
, but his shot was saved by the Hallam keeper Sneath.
Emley were on top now and with Arnold Ndiweni
's fast feet and sprints causing problems down the right and Shane Hamilton
on the left, the home defence were looking a bit shaky, and Emley seized their opportunity in fine style,
Good play on the left between Ndiweni and Hamilton saw Hamilton whip in a great cross, which Naidole met perfectly, heading into the net from close range to give Emley a lead they probably just about deserved.
Hallam immediately looked to get on level terms and a good break upfield saw Clarke save well one handed and James Stafford
completed the clearance, Emley's defence was breached again a minute or so late but the header went wide.
Then came one of the moments of the match from Emley, from a throw in on the right, Naidole picked the ball up 30 yards from goal from a Nathan Howe
flick on and smashed a stunning shot that had Sneath beaten, but he could only watch as the ball slammed off the crossbar, Hallam scrambled clear and the resulting corner was cleared by the home side, what a goal it would have been!
But it was not to be, Hallam, this time had another attack, Clarke again with the save as the game turned into some real end to end stuff, Naidole, was again in the thick of things, this time, seeing a curling shot just drop inches wide of the right hand post.
But then as half time approached two incidents completely turned the game, first, a break upfield for Hallam, Watson appeared to foul Stocker ,who was left on the ground a Watson bore down on goal, a lot of the players on both sides seemed to stop as the
ref put his whistle to his mouth, but Hallam carried on regardless, the ref ignored Emley's appeals, Watson rounded Clarke and poked the ball home for the equaliser.
Emley's day was about to get worse, when Gregg Porter
was sent off right on half time, he went in to contest a 50-50 but appeared to have his foot raised, little contact appeared to have been made but the home team players and bench surrounded the ref,screaming in his face, Porter was shown a second yellow and was ordered off, much to the frustration of the Emley players, staff and travelling contingent, Porter probably did deserve 2 yellows for consistent fouling,but the behaviour of the Hallam players and staff was unpleasant to see, however,there did also appear to be challenges that were let go by the referee that appeared just as bad that weren't shown cards which also left Emley frustrated.
So an uphill struggle ( quite literally on Hallam's slope!) became an even bigger one, for the 2nd half, with the home side having a numerical advantage and also playing down the slope, their fast, flowing football would surely come to the fore and end the game as a contest, and, sadly, so it proved for the Pewits.
Within a few minutes, Emley's rearguard were called into action, getting bodies and feet in the way to somehow deny Hallam a goal from a goalmouth scramble, It would only be a brief respite though, as on their next attack,a corner was swung in from the right and Smith slammed the ball home with a firm header to put the home side ahead for the first time.
Emley, to their credit didn't gave up and kept battling for every ball, Naidole and Howe working hard up front but they just weren't getting the breaks, George Whittaker
came on to add some energy and vibrancy to midfield, but it was Hallam who almost scored again, a deflected shot went wide of Clarke's left hand post as the home side turned up the pressure once more.
For 10 minutes, it was all Hallam, who pushed Emley back down the slope at will, the visitors couldn't get out of their own half, and it was no surprise when it became 3-1 on the hour, from a corner, a header was controlled and thumped home from Watson from close range for his second to probably end the game as a contest.
But credit to Emley, who never gave up and kept trying to attack and get back into the game, they made changes and brought on Ben Mills
and Brad Kemp
, who immediately caused Hallam some problems, Mills in particular was finding space and freedom in the inside right position, it was from one of Mills' runs that saw Emley awarded a corner, Stafford flicked a header on and Wayne Hughes
, who has really got a taste for goals lately, tried a speculative overhead kick but it went over the bar, Emley continued to attack and brought a good stop from Sneath low down.
As the game wound down, Emley dealt with most things Hallam could throw at them and still went in search of an unlikely equaliser, but Hallam also stood firm in defence to see the game out and keep up their promotion challenge, in front of a bumper crowd of 367,
boosted by a good Emley following and fans from the earlier Sheffield Wednesday V Luton Town FA Cup game just up the road at Hillsborough.
For Emley, this was a 5th defeat in 6 matches, but probably one of their best performances in that time, a performance that was appreciated by their fans and one that would have given them some confidence to hopefully kick on and pull away
from the bottom half of the table.
AFC Emley- Clarke, Stocker, Starkey, Ingham, Stafford, Hughes, Ndiweni, Porter, Howe, Naidole,Hamilton: Subs used- Whittaker, Mills, Kemp; Unused- Tunnacliffe, Burnett.