UHL Hellenic League

Shortwood United 2

Stonehouse 1

A LATE Ben Snook penalty for Shortwood settled what was a heated local derby on Friday night, with Stonehouse feeling aggrieved that they themselves had seen a host of penalty appeals waved away, as well as many a second half chance squandered, writes Harry Ash.

There was little between the teams throughout the first half. Shortwood started strongly, with former Magpie Luke Soule seemingly put through on goal with less than two minutes played, but Lee Keveren recovered well to prevent a shot on goal.

Shortwood's Ellis Harper then struck the top of the crossbar with a misdirected cross. The first real chance, though, fell to Stonehouse’s Liam Gale, who broke free of Ben Langworthy on the left before striking the far post with a low left-footed shot.

The decisive minute of the half came just approaching the half-hour mark; a Stonehouse corner was dropped by Adam Clark, but Keveren’s effort was blocked, producing the first Stonehouse penalty appeal, this one for handball. Those appeals were ignored by the referee, and Shortwood proceeded to counter attack. Tom Black found Harper with a superbly weighted through ball, and after Harper’s shot was saved by Will Pederick, Soule was on hand to finish from the rebound.

Stonehouse started the second half much the better side, but will surely feel disappointed that a fifteen minute period of dominance produced just one goal. Four minutes after the restart, the ever-threatening Gale crossed from the left, finding Nathan Beachus unmarked at the far post, but he headed wide. A minute later, Gale cut in from the left and his deflected shot was clawed past the post by Clark.

Gale was simply unstoppable at the start of the second half; his low cross in the fifty-fifth minute was cut out by Joe Tryner, but his clearance only fell to Dan Martin. Martin was tackled before he could release his shot, and Beachus sliced a follow-up shot well wide. Three minutes later, Elliott King fired the ball into the feet of Martin, who rolled past Josh Kerr before unleashing a shot from twenty yards. Clark could only stand and watch as the ball thumped against the foot of the post. With half-an-hour to play, Stonehouse finally got the equaliser. Martin was taken down by Tryner just outside the Shortwood penalty area, and former Shortwood captain Alex Kibble stepped up to curl the free-kick over the wall and into the net.

Shortwood managed to wrest some control from Stonehouse’s grasp after Kibble had made it 1-1, but that’s not to say Shortwood played particularly well. Just a few minutes after the equaliser, in fact, substitute Guy Halliday’s free-kick was poorly cleared, but, as the ball broke to Soule in space, he could only shoot wide of the left-hand post. With eighteen minutes to play, Martin had a final go at settling the game before he was replaced. He was found by Tim Williams, cut onto his left foot and curled a shot inches wide of the far post.

Going into the final ten minutes, despite the uninterrupted pressure they had come under from minutes forty-five to sixty, Shortwood looked the more likely to grab a late winner. Substitutes Max Harper-Emerson and Joe Wilton combined with eight minutes to play, as Harper-Emerson crossed to the far post, but Wilton was unable to guide the bouncing ball on target.

In the eighty-seventh minute, Joe Walters stepped across Harper-Emerson as the winger surged into the penalty area. After four or five penalty appeals of their own, all of which were turned down (including an instance when Gale was booked for simulation), Stonehouse were incensed when the referee pointed to the spot. This resulted in Tom Palmer being sent off. Kibble was then sent to the sin bin for dissent. Two minutes after the penalty was given, Snook sneaked his kick past the sprawling Pederick to make it 2-1.

Two further chances followed, one for each side. Black once again led a counter attack before squaring to Wilton, but his shot from the edge of the box was brilliantly blocked. Then, in the third minute of injury time, Williams’ free kick found Keveren at the far post, but he headed well over.

An important win for Shortwood, who are still waiting for several key players to return to full fitness, but Wilton, Harper-Emerson and Halliday all appearing from the bench was encouraging, as was the man of the match performance from the returning Harper.

Shortwood: Adam Clark, Ben Langworthy (Max Harper-Emerson 65’), Jacob Nowell, Josh Kerr, Joe Tryner (C), Finn Byrnes (Guy Halliday 54’), Ellis Harper, Ben Snook (yellow card 54’), Luke Soule, Tom Black, Kenneth Mills (Joe Wilton 60’)

Stonehouse: Will Pederick, Rob Humphries (yellow card 86’), Joe Walters, Tim Williams, Lee Keveren, Elliott King, Nathan Beachus, Alex Kibble (C) (yellow card (sin bin) 88’), Dan Martin (William Lacey 79’), Tom Palmer (red card 87’), Liam Gale (yellow card 77’)

Attendance: 146