SATURDAY 30 DECEMBER 2006 - SPARTAN SOUTH MIDLANDS LEAGUE PREMIER DIVISION
OXHEY JETS 1 HERTFORD TOWN 1 (ABANDONED AT HALF-TIME)
Hertford went into this game with the odds stacked against them, with top scorers Ryan Redford and Kevin Cooper both out, Scott Neilson having moved to Ware during the previous week, and Lee Roberts and Glenn Draper unavailable. Cooper had a fitness test before the game, but his injured foot was still too painful to allow him to play. Redford was serving a one match ban for five bookigs in the season. There was a welcome return to the club for former skipper Phil Goss, and for central defender Nick Turner - both having made the move from Ryman Division North side Enfield FC. There was also a debut for winger Lee Gregory, signed from Crouch End Vampires.
Team: 1. Mark Virgo, 2. Nicky Marsh, 3. Pablo Ardiles, 4. Kevin Kilroy (capt), 5. Nick Turner, 6. Paul Taylor, 7. Mark Seller, 8. Phil Goss, 9. Lee Gregory, 10. Michael Bakare, 11. Panayotis Panayiotou.
That the game began, in pouring rain, was a tribute to the new drainage work carried out in the close season. There were some puddles and one or two soft areas, but the referee was happy to start the game. Oxhey had won in Hertford's first ever South Midlands League game back in August, and it was a strange twist of fate which robbed Hertford of their sensational 63 goal strike duo of Redford and Cooper for only the second time this season, and both times against Jets. Hertford opted for the 4-5-1 formation which had succeeded at Aylesbury, but it was Oxhey who asked the early questions. First Hussain Ali got in very close, only to see Mark Virgo smother the ball at his feet, then Wayne Gladdy, making his 300th start for Jets, had a good run and shot to excite the home fans.
Michael Bakare, filling the left wing berth, had Hertford's first chance, when he skilfully cut in from the left and fired a shot a corss goal and just over the bar. On 25 minutes, Mark Virgo was beaten, but Nicky Turner cleared off the line spectacularly to preserve the 0-0 scoreline. Hertford were settling down well, with new boy Lee Gregory doing well down the right. The visitors took the lead on 28 minutes, when a fine Paul Taylor shot from outside the box was too hot for 'keeper Kevin Paul to handle, and PHIL GOSS was on hand to sweep the ball home.
Oxhey's resonse was almost immediate, for a minute later, JAMIE ARTHUR gleefully thumped the ball home from 4 yards as Hertford seemed unable to clear the ball in the muddy goalmouth.
Hertford were not dispirited by this setback, and Lee Gregory made a fine run and cross which was deflected for a corner. When this came across, Nick Turner looked certain to score, but the ball didn't bounce properly in the mud and the chance was lost. As Oxhey struggled to cope with an ever impressive Hertford, three of their players were booked in separate incidents all in the space of five minutes, Paul Turner for a spat with Paul Taylor, which saw the Hertford man booked also, and then Jamie Arthur and Chris Ingham.
Just on half time, it should have been two for Hertford when Michael Bakare outpaced Ingham again, and crossed to Panayiotis Panayiotou, who was bang in front of goal 12 yards out. His shot would have found the net in normal circumstances, but stuck in the thick mud allowing a defender to run in and boot the ball clear.
Half Time : Oxhey Jets 1 Hertford Town 1
The rain, already heavy for the whole of the first half, increased in strength during the break, and Hertford manager Dave Greenwood asked the referee to look at the conditions before restarting the game. After protracted inspections and ball rolling on the suspect areas, and a good deal of sweeping and forking, the referee eventually decided that the pitch was not playable and called the game off. Almost immediately, the intensity of the already heavy rain increased to ridiculous proportions as everyone scurried inside to avoi further soaking.