UHL Hellenic League

Shortwood United 3 Wellington 3

Shortwood escaped with a point, having finished with nine men, against Wellington, writes Harry Ash.

A poor first half performance gave Wellington a goal advantage at half time, but Wood hauled themselves back into the game, making it 3-2 with twenty minutes to play, but the dismissals of Tom Hoskins and Jacob Nowell meant they were clinging on in the closing stages.

Joe Wilton made his last appearance in a Wood shirt before his transfer to Hellenic Premier outfit Bishop's Cleeve.

The game took a while to get going, but it was Wellington who controlled the opening twenty minutes or so, with Shortwood struggling to get beyond halfway. Adam Clark was called into action with nine minutes played after a long ball from Lewis Fletcher was raced after by Saul Thomas, with Clark just about getting there first to prevent a one-on-one. Wellington’s dominance was rewarded on the quarter-hour. Brendan Mackett latched onto a pass down the right-hand side, before crossing to the far post, where Luke Griffiths smashed a volley past Clark to make it 0-1.

Shortwood responded relatively well, scoring the equaliser from their first real attack of the game. A searching pass from Guy Halliday found Rendijs Kalinins in behind the defence, and, after his shot was blocked, Josh Beadle followed up, but only saw his shot deflected behind. From the resulting corner, the ball was worked back out to the taker Beadle, who whipped an in-swinging cross towards the far post, where Hoskins met it, turning it across the face of goal, allowing Jacob Nowell to slide the ball into an open net.

But it took just six minutes for Wellington to retake the lead, Joe Davies scrambling the ball over the line after Mackett’s corner was flicked on at the near post.

Shortwood’s performance improved noticeably in the second half, as they were able to limit Wellington’s chances from open play, and they themselves took advantage of some clinical finishing to first equalise, then take the lead.

The introduction of Ellis Harper was pivotal in the creation of Shortwood’s second half goals. The first came in the sixty-third minute, after Finn Byrnes lofted a pass over the Wellington defence for Harper to run onto, before Harper returned the ball to Byrnes, who crossed first time, allowing Luke Soule to pounce, heading in past the stranded Matt Apperley.

Shortwood’s chances of grabbing a win, or even holding on for a draw, looked to be greatly reduced on seventy minutes when Hoskins was shown a straight red card for a challenge on Sam Plane. Having intercepted a pass, Hoskins spotted a gap in midfield and charged into it, but his final touch was heavy, giving Plane a chance to nick the ball away, before he was confronted by a somewhat inevitable lunging challenge from Hoskins, who was rightly dismissed.

Far from quelling the Shortwood fight back, though, the red card galvanised it further. Just three minutes after being reduced to ten men, Wood made it 3-2. Again Harper was involved, exchanging passes with Ben Langworthy before the right back charged into space, and thankfully this run had a happier ending than Hoskins’; Langworthy’s cross tempted Apperley out of his goal, but Soule beat him to the ball, heading over the keeper’s outstretched arms and into the net.

Despite this rally, Shortwood were unable to hold on to an unlikely three points. Wellington’s equaliser came partially as a result of Halliday filling in at centre-back, as he was caught under the ball, before felling Thomas as they entered the penalty area. To make matters considerably worse, Nowell was then sent to the sin bin for dissent, leaving Shortwood with nine players for the final five minutes of normal time. Matt James made no mistake from the spot, making it 3-3, but a potentially tense wait for the final whistle was navigated admirably by the nine men of Shortwood, as they held out for a valuable point.

Shortwood: Adam Clark, Ben Langworthy, Jacob Waddington, Tom Hoskins (C), Jacob Nowell, Finn Byrnes, Rendijs Kalnins (Ellis Harper 57’), Guy Halliday, Luke Soule, Josh Beadle, Max Harper-Emerson (Joe Wilton 57’)