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|Stephen McCartney reports from Culverden Stadium|
Dave Hassett 77
|Hythe Town||1||Mark Pollard 40|
Referee ruined our game of football, admits Fisk
HYTHE TOWN manager Paul Fisk blasted Maidstone referee Graeme Ions for sending off two of his players at the end of the first half at Culverden Stadium tonight.
Striker Mark Pollard had just cancelled out Steve Smith's opener for the home side when all hell broke loose inside the Hythe penalty area just before the interval.
Roy Guiver was on the receiving end of a two footed challenge from Tunbridge Wells' striker Daniel Barham, who then clashed with Hythe's Dean Widnall, who threw several punches at the offender, which resulted in a heated melee erupting.
Once some sort of calm was restored, Barham was shown a straight red card by Ions for his part in the incident. Guiver, however, who had raced over towards the tunnel on his own to remonstrate with the senior official, Mr McLean, he was the next player to be sent off, after the three match officials spoke amongst themselves at length.
Nick Day was the third player to be brandished to the dressing rooms but the
only "punishment" handed to Widnall, who threw the punches, was to
take over in between the sticks for the rest of the game.
However, before this incident, both sides had enjoyed themselves. Although a cagey affair, it was played fairly and without a booking.
Barham brought the ball down with his chest before striking a volley over the bar early on but the game sparked into life just before the half hour mark when the same player fired wide at the far post following a well worked free kick routine.
Hythe created two good chances in as many minutes with Dan Fisk and skipper Ian Hayes both shooting over from distance.
Tunbridge Wells, however, took the lead after 33 minutes, which they surrendered seven minutes later.
Youngster Alex Rich was upended by Darren Walmsley on the left hand side of midfield, inside the visitors half. The free kick was swept in by Buster Beaney and seconds later Steve Smith fired his sixth goal of the season, the ball creeping inside the far corner of the net.
responded well and scored a good goal to bring the scores back to level
terms. Fisk sent Pollard bursting through the Wells' defence, leaving
Gavin Williams in his wake. As goalkeeper Matt Bromby advanced, the
prolific striker kept his composure, placing the ball in off the base of the far
Then the red mist descended over Culverden Stadium and for the second half Hythe were forced to play with lone striker Pollard up front with everybody else defending behind the ball. Although the home side had plenty of possession, they couldn't break down their visitors and were feeling frustrated until Dave Hassett headed home his sixth goal of the season with thirteen minutes left.
Before this, Wells created three good chances around the hour mark. Ben Hilden had time to pick out an unmarked Hassett but the former Ashford Town and Sittingbourne striker headed wide. This should have been an early warning for the visitors, but they didn't take heed of it.
Smith's right-footed shot from distance whistled wide and then Hilden found himself inside the Hythe penalty area and was unlucky not to score his first goal of the season. Toe-poking the ball towards goal, his shot came back off the right post and the rebound fell into the grateful arms of a grounded Widnall.
Hythe's first foray on the Wells' goal in the second half came after 63 minutes when Fisk's drive deflected wide of the far post.
With nineteen minutes to go, Paul Fisk replaced the hard working lone striker of Pollard and decided to play two men up front for the remainder of the game with substitutes Mike Yianni and Jason Brazier giving the visitors more attacking options.
Hythe's resilience, however, was broken with thirteen minutes left when Smith's cross from the left was met by an unmarked Hassett who planted a header past Widnall and into the net to send the Culverden Stadium club into sixth place in the table.
Disappointed Hythe manager Paul Fisk said: "I am pleased with the battling performance but I don't think we should have been in that position."
Speaking about the incident where two of his players were sent off, Fisk added: "Roy Guiver was fouled and got sent off. The referee really can't give me a reason. I think everyone would agree a couple of bookings for both teams would have sorted it out and then we could have got on with a football match.
"That ruined it and its ruined it for us as well. We did work hard during the second half but it was always going to be uphill for us. We just feel disappointed really. We came here for a game of football and we didn't get it."
During the interval, Fisk tried to rally his troops for the second half battle and they did reasonably well, keeping the home side at bay, until Hassett's late headed winner.
"Nine men and a midfielder in goal you are going to work hard.
"We are all disappointed because we came here for a game of football and feel we didn't get it," Fisk said.
Looking ahead to Saturday's trip to Thamesmead, Fisk added: "I think the rest of the season will be hard work for everyone with referees like that. I am just too disappointed with today really because we wanted a game of football.
"It's disappointing because no-one comes here to get sent-off. Everyone turned up for a game of football. That didn't happen and it's totally down to the referee. Both sets of teams wanted to play, eleven versus eleven was fine.
"We worked hard but I expected us to work hard in the second half. At half-time we needed to calm down, which we did, and I still felt we could have won the game. That's what I told the players. Obviously we didn't and the late goal killed us but I've got no complaints about the players in the second half - just disappointed both teams didn't finish the game with eleven players."
Wells boss Kevin Metcalf added: "I think it was hard to break them down. Hythe are always a workmanlike side and I couldn't really see the goal coming so when it did come we were all pleased."
He did defend Barham for the challenge on Guiver, which sparked the ugly scenes before the half-time interval.
"The ball was stuck in the mud and was there to be won as far as I'm concerned. It was a bad tackle."
Without midfield general Aaron O'Leary, Metcalf admitted he was concerned with a lack of experience in the middle of park.
Metcalf added: "We need someone in there to relay all the messages that is given to them in the dressing room and on the training pitch. We need someone on the pitch that the coaching staff can talk to.
"We are happy at the moment with the personnel. There's a couple of lads that have been mentioned but we need a bit of experience and that is another thing we shall address."
Tunbridge Wells travel to league leaders Ramsgate on Saturday and Metcalf added: "It's a good one to win. I'm locking horns with Jim Ward again and I'm looking forward to it. We could complete the double over them, I'd like to but it will be another tough game."
With eight league games to play and 24 points up for grabs, Wells are still on course for finishing in sixth place - their target set at the start of the season.
Tunbridge Wells: Matt Bromby, Mark Boyle, Ben Hilden (Capt), Gavin Williams, Buster Beaney, Luke Williams (Kevin Skinner 77), Lee Porter, Alex Rich (Steve Ward 67), Dave Hassett (Michael Ward 83), Daniel Barham (sent off), Steve Smith. Subs: Simon Joynes, Dean Walker
Hythe Town: Nick Day (sent off), Dean Widnall, Scott Thomas, Darren Walmsley, Brian Pearce, Roy Guiver (sent off), Dan Fisk, Ian Hayes (Capt), Roy Godden (Lee Winfield 77), Mark Pollard (Mike Yianni 71), Farrell Cox (Jason Brazier 71).
Referee: Graeme Ions (Maidstone)
Assistants: M McLean & D Hodgson