A bumper crowd of 326 packed the HE Barnes Stadium to witness Dronfield Town go down by the odd goal in five against league leaders Hallam FC. The visitors took a 3-1 lead midway through the second half but were forced to endure a nervy final few minutes thanks to Callum Mawbey’s late strike for Dronfield. Once again, it was a battling display from Town against another of the division’s front runners and hopefully one which will see them in good stead for a visit to Armthorpe next weekend.
The game got off to the best possible start for Hallam. Attacking full back Niall Smith saw his low left wing cross turned home from close range at the far post by Kieran Watson to give them a 1-0 lead.
Buoyed by their early advantage, Hallam followed up by hitting the bar and then, on 14 minutes, Iren Wilson cut in from the left, forcing Lewis Naylor in the Town goal to make an excellent stop low to his right.
Dronfield’s best effort of the half came on 17 minutes when after good work down the right by Sam Terry, Danny Wood saw his close range attempt saved by the legs of Miles Wright in the Hallam net.
Smith continued to be a thorn in Dronfield’s side, bursting into the area on 31 minutes and squaring for Richard Patterson, who stabbed his shot just past the post.
Dronfield switched full backs, Billy Wright moving over to the right hand side to combat Smith but Hallam were to double their lead on 36 minutes.
Iren Wilson went down slightly theatrically in the Dronfield box causing the referee to point to the spot. Royles stepped up to take the spot kick, rolling the ball low to Naylor’s left to make it 0-2.
Dronfield got one back on the stroke of half time in odd fashion. Danny Wood held up the ball well for Dronfield at the top of the area but a strike saw the ball rebound off Hallam’s Danny Patterson and past Wright in the Hallam goal as the whistle blew at 1-2.
Dronfield introduced Matty Ord from the bench at half time in a bid to gain further attacking impetus but it was Hallam who claimed the first chance of the half. Wilson beat the offside trap to go clean through only to see his shot well saved by the legs of Lewis Naylor.
Just short of the hour mark, Callum Mawbey’s 25 yarder for Town was only just smothered by Wright with Danny Wood trying to force the ball home on the follow up.
Hallam got a third on 62 minutes. A high ball over from the left was skilfully steered inside Naylor’s far post by Royles for his second of the encounter.
Further drama was added to the game on 67 minutes. After failing to clamp down on a series of niggly challenges, the referee frowned upon an altercation between Danny Wood and Hallam’s Steve Wankiewicz and issued Wood with a straight red card.
The ten men of Dronfield didn’t capitulate however. Callum Mawbey’s quality late strike two minutes into added time made it 2-3 and forced Hallam to endure a few nervy minutes before the final whistle was blown.
Once again, Dronfield ran one of the division’s front runners close and will need similar application in their next game away at Armthorpe, who are just three places above Town and were 6-0 victors over the Derbyshire side back in October.
Dronfield Town: Naylor, Bebbington, Wright, Lester, Hill, Hatton, Chapell, Mawbey, Wood, Terry, Flower. Subs: Hunter, Gladwin, Mark Fereday, Knight, Ord.
Hallam: Wright, Brownell, Smith, Salt, Wankiewicz, Bradbury, Daniel Patterson, Richard Patterson, Wilson, Watson, Royles. Subs: Wood, Mitchell, Morton, Pemberton, Blackbourn.
Photo: Ken Allsebrook