10 man United start the New Year with a fine point (Video online)
Basford overcame significant 1st half adversity to battle to a hard fought 1-1 draw against title challengers Shaw Lane Aquaforce.
Video Now on line https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7oOPVbt4MNQ8E2HmAcmYbA
Playing the entire 2nd half with 10 men after the dismissal, and subsequent penalty award and goal for Shaw Lane right on the stroke of half time then this was a brilliant effort. Video shows the referee probably got the award right and no option but to dismiss last man Robbie McNicholas, however the referee failed to get right a desperately high 1st half tackle that could have inflicted serious damage on Fabian Smith that should have also warranted a straight red by the letter of the law. With Basford also losing 1st half through injury central midfielder Kyle Dixon and leading striker Ruben Wiggins-Thomas then it looked a fore long hope to get anything from this game with a whole second period to contest. It is with great credit though to Martin Carruthers group that the players stuck too instruction, and worked so hard to preserve a valuable point. United also had 3 glorious late chances to take 3 points, sub Jack Wood skied over from the edge and Courey Grantham was deprived by a fine low stop from Shaw Lane keeper Ian Deakin. Deakin though saved his best for the final minute of added time as he got the slightest touch on Stuart Hendrie’s top corner effort to divert onto the cross bar for a fine save. United though were also indebted to our own brilliant keeper Saul Deeney who pulled out 3 wonder 2nd half stops to prevent the visitors from getting in front, all from point blank, all one on ones & crucial saves by the United keeper. With last ditch defending keeping the United goal intact then understably for the 10 men this was backs to the wall stuff packed with courage and determination.
Earlier in the day United introduced new signing Mason Rowley signed from Rugby Town for his debut who slotted in at centre back. Dion Miekle and Saul Deeney returned after missing the Bank Holiday Monday defeat at Rugby. Rob Darkin was missing for the game as well as Eugene Bopp and the host of United injuries & absentees, including Ben Hutchinson, Josh Thornton, Jermaine Hollis, David Boafo.
With both teams getting off to a flying start United should have been in front inside the 1st minute as Ruben Wiggins-Thomas was picked out by a fine cross from Billy Bennett, but glanced wide point-blank from 6 yards when he would be expected to net. With a glut of chances and incidents at both ends in the 1st 10 minutes then it was unlikely this one would end scoreless. The 1st goal arrived on 12 minutes and after a long wait it was United forward Stuart Hendrie who notched after a long goal drought not helped by a long injury absence. Hendrie picked up a mistake by visiting keeper Ian Deakin who failed to gain distance on a headed clearance, but with still a lot to do Stuart Hendrie coolly fired low past the keeper for 1-0.
Basford continued to dominate and Kyle Dixon fired wide. Then on 19 minutes Dixon again was heavily involved as he fired inches over the bar after a fine United move. Unfortunately, this was Dixons last involvement as he picked up a hamstring strain in getting this effort off on goal to be replaced by 17-year-old youngster Jack Wood. Basford continued to take the game to the visitors and next up a fine ball into the box from Blair Anderson was inches away from the stretching Ruben Wiggins-Thomas who would have surely netted if connected. The visitors were showing very little all be it from a header well held by Saul Deeney. With the half approaching the feeling was Basford should have been further in front than the 1-0 score line but this all went pear shaped on the stroke of half time. A through ball saw the excellent United youngster Robbie McNicholas take an unadvised extra touch, and a striker took advantage to race clear and go down in the box under challenge from both Robbie McNicholas and Saul Deeney. In awarding the spot kick the referee had no option but to dismiss the last man defender. With striker Lee Morris converting the penalty for 1-1 on half time, then in this 30 seconds the whole complexion of the game changed and United now faced a 2nd half battle to get something from the game. On a heavy surface up the slope then the attitude and determination of the group bodes very well for the remainder of the campaign. United defended superbly in this one, and Mason Rowley played his part in this with a dominant aerial against a lot of high ball into the United box, but this was a total team effort typified by Fabian Smiths likely best display in a Basford shirt as he was all over the pitch.
So a new year starts with a fine result and renewed spirit as United now a playoff push over the last 19 games of the campaign.