The first local derby of the new season ended in defeat for Dronfield Town as near neighbours Swallownest FC came away with a deserved win. Goals in each half for Statham and Smith saw them claim the points before gaining a third goal in the dying moments through a bizarre penalty decision that saw Dronfield goalkeeper and Captain Lewis Naylor sent from the field of play. Chris Millington and his men must now look ahead to a journey to Campion FC to get back on track on Saturday.
Clearly buoyed from Saturday’s opening league win at Skegness Town, Dronfield came out of the traps all guns blazing as Matty Ord nicked the ball off Smith and brought out a double save from Owen Evans in the Swallownest goal all within the space of the first minute.
Dronfield continued their high tempo display for the opening twenty minutes and it took until the 23rd minute when Matthew Morton crashed his shot into the side netting for Swallownest for their opening attempt.
Swallownest grew into the half; Cropper ghosting in at the far post on 27 minutes forcing Naylor to scramble the ball away.
Town had the ball in the net on 32 minutes. Matty Ord found the target after good work from Tom Gladwin but his effort was ruled out for offside.
The half ended in the worst possible fashion for Dronfield however. Bang on the stroke of half time, a testing ball in from the left hand side was met by a firm header from Josh Statham to give Swallownest a 1-0 interval advantage.
Lewis Naylor pulled off a terrific save to his right hand side from Morritt’s snapshot in the early stages of the second half and the dangerous Thomas Cropper saw his shot from the angle beaten away by Naylor moving into the last twenty minutes.
Cropper’s shot was an ominous warning as Town failed to clear their lines just a minute later and Alfie Smith stabbed home from six yards to make it two.
The game ended in bizarre fashion. Lewis Naylor claimed a regulation catch above the diminutive Richard Williams, who went down. The referee pointed to the spot and sent Naylor from the field for his troubles. Midfielder Callum Mawbey went in goal for Dronfield but he couldn’t stop Tyler Bradley making it 3-0 to the visitors from the spot.
Swallownest deserved winners on the night and Dronfield now move on to Campion FC, another side that are usually challengers in the upper reaches of the Northern Counties East League Division One.
Dronfield Town: Naylor, Bebbington, Stewart, Gladwin, Pugh, Fairweather, Mawbey, Mike Fereday, Wood, Rupere, Ord. Subs: Hill, Bvute, Savage, Mark Fereday.
Swallownest: Evans, Smith, Cropper, Beedham, Statham, Bradley, Squires, Grady, Pearson, Morton, Morritt. Subs: Turner, Nightingale, Kent, Williams, Evison.