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|Martin Wiseman reports from The Small Glen|
|Slade Green||1||Arnold 24|
|VCD Athletic||2||Main 4, Thomas 87|
Main continues where he left off before trip down under
Defensive 'hiccups' from Slade Green four minutes from the start and a similar time from the end cost them dear.
The fact that Green striker Chris Arnold, after hitting a great first half strike, missed out on a hat-trick by striking the visitors upright, not once, but twice, in the second half - plus the turning down of a blatant penalty claim after 64 minutes, all combined to leave Green massively frustrated.
The game's opening minute had Green's new signing, Stuart Abbott, pumping a free kick into VCD's box where the ball bobbled about dangerously before being hacked clear by Vickers.
An identical incident, a minute later at the other end, had Gary Ward's free kick for VCD being sliced only inches wide of is own goal by Ryan Hayes as he attempted an upfield clearance.
When on 4 minutes home player Danny Little gave the ball away in midfield he could not have picked out a more inappropriate opponent to present to. Goal ace Jon Main, who has just returned after a trip to Australia, headed straight for the home goal and although his first attempt was blocked by keeper Paul Vines, the ball rebounded kindly back to Main who with the keeper compromised by his initial save could do no more that watch the ball loop lazily over him and into the net.
But after Ward had shunned a chance set up by Paul McCarthy, to put VCD further ahead, the opportunity arose on 24 minutes for Danny Little to make amends for his earlier slip.
And with Dean Bowey taking a decoy run away down the left, Little chose to put Chris Arnold in with an inch perfect pass. Out pacing his marker Arnold sent a stunning shot past the advancing keeper Marc Brown.
With a strong wind in their favour, VCD forced 7 first half corners compared with none from the home side. Even so, a delicious Wayne Barrett through ball on 41 minutes so nearly triggered a surprise half time lead for Green, but Ryan Hayes' great pull back from the bye-line eluded Chris Arnold's head by a matter of inches.
Another new signing by Green, Mark Penny, was in full evidence as Green scotched early second half pressure from the visitors.
With the wind now at his back Green's Shaun Malyon tried one from 35 yards on 53 minutes, while Abbott got forward effectively a few minutes later to win Green their first corner.
Then 5 minutes on, Abbott could have gone one better by winning a penalty for his new colleagues, as he raced onto Little's long ball.
Ex Greener Paul McCarthy, chased back, appeared to baulk Abbott illegally a full yard inside the side line of the penalty area. Abbott tumbled, but man in the middle, G. Irons, remained controversially unimpressed.
VCD's mid half substitutions added extra dimensions to their attacking options, and within a minute of coming on Lindsey Thomas' cross left Main with what seemed would be a formality of a headed goal from just a yard or two out.
But amazing reactions from keeper Vines, backed up by Scott Lewis' prompt clearance denied the visitors.
Three minutes later Vines went full stretch to keep another sub, Matt Russell at bay, while substitutes Thomas and Greatorex both hit wide when through on goal.
Likewise Slade Green's substitutes Chris Tuley and Billy Bond both featured late in the half. It took a last ditch tackle from Adcock to prevent Tuley from scoring, while Bond's free kick found Arnold outjumping everyone on the edge of the area to plant a good header against Brown's right hand post.
But disaster struck for Green on 87 minutes when a long ball out of Vicker's defence had defender Lewis and keeper Vines showing indecision as to which one should clear, and in nipped Lindsey Thomas to make the vital contact and send the ball rolling into the net.
As the game moved into added time some justice looked to be 'on the cards' for Green when the luckless Arnold shot on the turn from fully 30 yards out, only to see his cracking drive hit against the same spot of the VCD upright that had received his header only 10 minutes earlier.