Thurlow Nunn report: Whitton United 3 Stanway Rovers 3
- Credit: Gregg Brown
Substitute Sam Mead was the hero as Whitton United battled back from 3-0 down with just 11 minutes to go, to grab a point, against nine-man Stanway Rovers in a bad-tempered clash.
Mead scored in the final minute of normal time, before finishing a penalty in injury-time to level a game that saw 10 yellow and two red cards issued by referee Oli Morris-Sanders.
Ethan Clarke had scored a belter for the hosts with 11 minutes to spare, giving a previously under-par Whitton hope, but a comeback still looked unlikely, despite the visitors capitulating in front of them.
Stanway were cruising and led 2-0 at the break through Joss Neale’s header and Ray Turner’s penalty – the latter coming after Lance Akins pushed Jack Smith in the box.
They could have been further ahead. Lee Cullen’s header was ruled out for offside, Whitton goalkeeper Liam Jones denied efforts from former Colchester United legend Karl Duguid and Turner, while Mikey Fondur-Talium’s close-range shot was deflected over.
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In contrast, Whitton offered little in the first period. They created a couple of half-chances from corners, but were often steamrollered by the visitors, for whom Duguid and Daniel Slatter pulled the strings in midfield.
Whitton boss Paul Bugg will have demanded a reaction after such a lacklustre first-half, but things got worse for United in the 47th minute, when striker Fondur-Talium charged down a kick from goalkeeper Jones, and ran the ball into an empty net.
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Robbie Knott then denied the same player a probable fourth with a last-ditch tackle in the penalty box, before Whitton’s Miles Powell was booked for deliberate handball in the Stanway box.
That proved to be his last contribution as, along with James Burnett and Anton Clarke, he was replaced on 56 minutes. James Crissell, Jordan Dye and Mead entering the fray.
Duguid and Slatter were cautioned – the former being substituted moments later, before Mead received the same punishment for Whitton as the game became increasingly tetchy.
The bookings were mounting up and, after Jones denied Fondur-Talium again, Stanway began to get agitated, despite being three goals to the good. Mistakes began creeping into their game and the niggling arguments increased.
On 72 minutes, Jake Clowsley received his marching orders for dissent – a second bookable offence – before visiting goalkeeper Daniel Beeson was booked for time-wasting.
The hosts’ first real shot on target came when Allicion Blake spun in the box and fired straight at Beeson.
A minute later, Clarke scored for the hosts, the midfielder hitting an unstoppable effort from 30 yards that gave Beeson no chance.
Stanway were dropping deeper and after Blake was thwarted again, the same player teed up Mead who hit a left-foot shot across his body, the ball flying past Beeson and crashing in off the post.
An unlikely comeback suddenly looked likely after Mead went down in the box under the challenge of Lee Cullen, who was subsequently sent-off for dissent – his second booking.
Given his impact since his arrival on the game, Mead was never going to miss the penalty, although Beeson did get a hand to his spot-kick.
There was still time for more goalmouth action and with Stanway reeling, Beeson had to be alert to deny Mead a memorable hat-trick.
WHITTON: Jones, Sheppard, Jack Mead, Anton Clarke (Sam Mead, 56), Knott, Akins, Williams, Burnett (Dye, 56), Blake, Powell (Crissell, 56), Ethan Clarke. Subs not used: Trevivian, Marjoram.
STANWAY: Beeson, Fox, Boyland, Neale, Smith, Duguid (Maher, 58), Clowsley, Cullen, Fondur-Talium (Kendrick, 75), Slatter, Turner (Coe, 74). Sub not used: Welsh.
Referee: Oli Morris-Sanders