A hat trick, a free kick trick and the trick of the eye

Hale 4 - 3 Maghull
Saturday 17th October 2015 kick off 3pm

In a nutshell, a weird game. Madness prevailed, but in the midst of it all a couple cracking goals and for the second week running, two teams who seemed intent on playing hard but fair.

Maghull should have had this game wrapped up within twenty minutes, found themselves staring a heavy defeat in the face and then should then have walked off with a share of the spoils. But more of that later.

The early pattern of play was set in the Hale half. A couple of snap shots, a deflection or two for a corner, a spilt cross by the keeper and the hosts were happy to still be level. Especially after Brad Smarts effort deceived all, but snook the wrong side of the far post. The breakthrough did finally come, when a deep cross from the left was met firmly by Tom Foley who headed into the top corner. It was not exactly a procession, but the expectancy was that Maghull would now go on to win this game comfortably. Maybe that level of confidence got to the players, as within five minutes Hale had equalised. Against the run of play, Hale found themselves with a corner on the right. The intial ball was cleared, but it was returned with interest, as a back post duel saw two players challenging and the ball in Maghulls net.

This change of fortune gave Hale a timely boost. Who took the ascendency, but Maghull re took the lead when another left wing cross from Hooper found the back post and once more Tom Foley beat his marker and headed home for 2-1 However, the lead was shortlived again when a clumsy challenge saw a Hale player tumble over an outstretched leg and a penalty it was. Carrol got his fingers to it, but the ball nestled behind him and all the earlier good work had counted for little.

Once again we had been treated to a free scoring affair and this time the second half continued to produce the goods. Though we should have had more.

The second half started with plenty of cat and mouse football, very cagey with neither side commiting themselves, but it was a good watch and very intriguing. We got our first amusing moment of the day when Hooper burst clear and turned inside his marker in the box. A clumsy challenge, an outstretched leg and a tumbling player saw the disgruntled defender lash the ball out of play in disgust at his sillyness. But when the referee blew his whistle and approached the penalty area, with the ineveitable pointing to the spot to come, he surprised everyone by giving a foul to Hale and producing a yellow card to Hooper for diving. The annoyance at the none penalty award was compounded by much mirth and merryment of the Hale players who openly laughed and took their slice of luck, as you would. This also seemed to change the pattern of play as the hosts sensed this looked to be their day.

Soon after, a slip on the edge of the Maghull box saw Hale regain possession, a quick change of feet and a right foot strike into the bottom corner gave Hale the lead for the first time. A sickening blow, but worse was to come. An innocuous challenge just outside the area saw Hale awarded a free kick. A left footed strike beat Carrol all ends up, but the referee asked for the kick to be taken again as he had not blown his whistle. The warning had been given, but instead another player stepped up and cracked a right footed effort into the opposite corner and it was game over.

But again, this Maghull team does not know when it is beaten. A fine save denied Tom Foley what we thought was his hat trick. But with four minutes to go, he finally managed it. Jay Steele flicked the ball on, Ben Sumner overlapped and hita first time left footed cross and Foley, Osgood/Houchenesque, dived to head home and give Maghull a sniff of a chance. And that chance came.

Hales good fortune continued into time added on, when Danny Boyle saw his effort ruled out. Well, that is the best way I can put it. To be fair, I actually thought his effort had struck the upright, but all of the players and many of the crowd said the ball had hit the stanchion inside the goal and come out. The referee must have been standing with me, as we seem to be the only people not to have seen the ball crossing the line. Sorry, I tell a lie, the referee did speak to his assistant and did not change his mind. So that makes three of us. Hale players, officials and supporters confirmed my blindness with all saying, yes it was a goal. But this is not cricket and players are not expected to walk, or in this case tell the ref he has just blundered and tell him to give the goal.

So there were no share of the spoils and Hale leapfrog above Maghull in the table on the back of this win. And just like Scotland, they have to take the referees decision.
Football, bloody hell !

Next game : Chester Nomads away cup Saturday 24th October 2015 kick off 2pm

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