REPORT: Smash and Grab raid by Hall Road as Dronfield fail to take lockdown win

An astonishing final five minutes saw Dronfield Town go down by 2-3 at home to Hall Road Rangers in their last game before the national lockdown. Town looked in control of the preceding 85 minutes, heading for a comfortable win before a double from Nathan Walker and a winner five minutes into added time from leading scorer Richard Medcalf saw the points heading back to Humberside. Dronfield now face a four week layoff, enforced by national government, and uncertainty over how the season will be finished thereafter.

Dronfield again started weekend hat-trick hero Sam Bebbington up front and it was his left footed shot on eight minutes that came back off the post, Mark Fereday being unable to put away the rebound.

However, Fereday made amends five minutes later. Charlie Stewart’s ball in from the left was met on the half volley by Fereday, cleared off the line by the Hall Road defence, but followed up by the striker with a quality finish to give Dronfield a 1-0 lead.

It took Hall Road fully 21 minutes before their first real attempt on goal. Conner Harman’s shot from the edge of the area was well saved by Dronfield’s Lewis Naylor, who pulled off another stop from Medcalf four minutes after.

A delicious curling left wing cross from Stewart was met by the head of Fereday on 35 minutes, just going over the bar but it was Town boss Chris Millington who was happier with his side’s first half display, albeit without claiming a second goal that would have underlined their dominance.

That second goal eventually came in the 54th minute. A high quality ball up the right touchline from Jamie Willis saw Mark Fereday beat the offside trap. Fereday dinked the ball past Hall Road keeper Jody Barford and tapped into the open goal for his second and Dronfield’s second of the game.

Hall Road introduced all three of their substitutes and after Naylor saved with his legs from Joe Dale’s shot and Charlie Stewart cleared off the line from the same player, it looked like Town were on their way to a satisfying win.

Things changed dramatically on 85 minutes when a whipped ball in from the right was met by a glancing header from Hall Road substitute Nathan Walker to make it 2-1.

Dronfield still looked favourites for the three points deep into added time until Walker fired home on the angle to draw matters level at 2-2.

Then, with fully five minutes added to the contest, Hall Road’s leading scorer Richard Medcalf turned in the penalty area and fired home low past Naylor to send the Humbersiders into raptures and claim an unlikely 2-3 win.

So no pre-lockdown win for Dronfield despite looking fully in command of the game at the 85 minute mark. The hope must be that the delay doesn’t last any longer than the planned four weeks and that Chris Millington and his men can hit the ground running once play is allowed once more. Their up tempo display for the majority of the evening showed what they are undoubtedly capable of.

Perhaps more importantly, it is hoped that non-elite football can resume as soon as possible in the well-organised manner shown prior to shutdown and that the players, officials, volunteers and spectators of all clubs come out of the other side safely.

Dronfield Town: Naylor, Wright, Stewart, Flower, Pugh, Hill, Mawbey, Willis, Fereday, Bebbington, Ord Subs: Fairweather, Gladwin, Siddons, Savage, Wood.

Hall Road Rangers: Barford, Harrison, Whittingham, Piercy, Britton, Knaggs, Murray, Andrew, Medcalf, Harman, Robinson. Subs: Bullement, Walker, Dale.

Attendance: 76

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