Match Report: Rovers’ throw away an early lead

Having been a goal up Rovers hand over the points to a resurgent Hanworth

Today’s guests are Hanworth Villa, currently sitting in eight place, and six points clear of Rovers. Their current run of form has seen a convincing win against Badshot Lea, and a draw against Thatcham Town. Rovers go into the game off the back of a disappointing performance against Northwood in the week, with the hope to make amends. The line-up set to achieve that are James Dillon in goal, Tariq Straker, Isy Nzelo, Antonio Simeone and Bertie Lloyd in defence, midfield Daryl Coleman, Matt Feeny-Hill, Nabeel Ghannam, Courtney Swaby, Ben Holden and Aaron Jenkins. On the bench, Max Oldham, Lindell Stewart, Noah Africa, Charlie Martin and Ashley Sheppard.

Rovers get off to a good solid start, playing considered and entertaining football. After good build up from Ben Holden, Daryl Coleman and Isy Nzelo, Courtney Swaby chips a pass over the top for Aaron Jenkins to run on to, but was flagged just offside. A poor throw-in by Villa is intercepted by Coleman, providing Jenkins with a chance to shoot from distance, the rebound fell to Swaby, but his shot was easy for the keeper Tyla Dickinson.

On the counter, a mistake in the Rovers back line opens a chance for Villa, but Kyen Nicholas blasts over the bar. A long throw by Villa’s Sam Merson is headed out by Holden and falls to Nzelo, who feeds through to Nabeel Ghannam, but his shot is blocked. The clearance by Villa is headed on by Gagendeep Samra to Nicholas with his back to goal, he shoots on the turn but hits the side netting. Chances building for both sides, but Rovers just have the edge.

In the 19th minute, Villa’s Samra gives away a free kick just in their half. Coleman floats his effort perfectly across to the left finding Bertie Lloyd. His trademark header across goal is met by Jenkins, who steers his glancing header just inside the right hand post. Rovers a goal to the good, and not against the run of play.

Rovers continue to press with great runs into the channels from Matt Feeny-Hill, Nzelo and Jenkins. Pinning back Villa with a spate of throw-ins from Holden, increasing the Rovers’ lead looked a likely outcome, but the finish was just eluding them. A short throw this time to Coleman gives him time to pick out Lloyd with a great cross, but Dickinson claims the header.

Around 25 minutes, with Villa seeking an opening, Seanen McKillop feeds Kyron Richards to the byline who gets round our defence, thankfully Lloyd was able to head his cross out for a corner. From the kick a powerful header from Rayan Djouadj just scrapes the top of the crossbar, James Dillon having it covered. As Dillon went to ground he sustained a leg injury, leaving him unable to take the goalkick, and an injury that was to stay with him for the rest of the game. How much would this cost Rovers, not able to pass back to their keeper?

With the tide beginning to turn and our keeper carrying an injury, only good defending by Antonio Simeone, Nzelo Lloyd and Tariq Straker kept the Villians at bay. On the break, from a Coleman headed clearance, Swaby sweeps the ball through to Ghannam, who skips round his defender, but his pass for Jenkins is short, and the chance had gone.

On 42mins, after a smart move from Swaby and Feeney-Hill breaks down, Aston Nunn breaks out of the Villa defence at pace, and plays inside to Merson. Bursting into the box, Merson calmly slots past Dillon to level the score. Hanworth had the chance to go ahead late in the half after a long clearance from Dickinson is headed down by Merson to Nicholas, but his shot is well saved by Dillon. Into the break with one apiece.

The second half started with Rovers pressing the Villa final third. After a throw-in is recycled back to Holden, a great cross is aimed for Lloyd, but the tall centre back couldn’t get under it. From the break Nicholas charges into the Rovers half, passing wide to Nunn, his shot rattling the right post. From the rebound Dillon makes a terrific save from the follow-up shot by McKillop.

With Hanworth clearly in the ascendency, Dillon is again called upon, tipping a great shot from Merson out for a corner. The delivery again from Merson is headed over by Nicholas. Rovers continue to make ground on the Villa half, but with no end product in and around the box.

Just after the hour mark, a long throw from Merson is headed back across the Rover’s penalty area for Nicholas to head home, a carbon copy of the goal Jenkins’ scored for Rovers in the first half. Villa take the lead, with Rover’s searching for a reply.

A great delivery from Coleman, from a free kick just outside the area, Jenkins was a whisker away, his shot skewing out for a corner. Swaby takes high into the box, with Lloyd challenging the keeper, but was judged unfairly. At 66mins Rovers make a tactical change, replacing Feeny-Hill with Ashley Sheppard. Immediately, Sheppard and Jenkins combine well outside the Villa box, culminating in a strike from Sheppard, but is deflected out for a corner. Swaby’s delivery is enticing for Lloyd, but harmlessly headed over.

As Villa make their substitutions, Sam Mead replacing Nicholas and Ben Merson replacing Nunn, Rovers continue playing with a high line, in danger of being caught on the break, but looking for the elusive equaliser. Whatever Rovers’ had, Villa were equal to it, defending in numbers protecting their lead. Charlie Martin replaces Coleman, late on to add to the Rovers’ attack, hoping for inspiration in the closing minutes.

In the dying seconds, after a surging run from Swaby is bundled out by Villa, a last ditch throw from Holden is launched into the box, with everyone up looking for the equaliser. As the throw comes over, huge appeals for a handball against Villa were waved away, and a great strike from Simeone is on target, but Dickinson saves. The final whistle brings the game to an end, with a jubilant Villa, and a despondent Rovers, the mist descending around the ground along with their hopes of salvaging a point.