Arlesey Town earned a hugely creditable 1-1 draw at home to the SSML Premier Division leaders Hadley on Saturday.
It was a real battling point for the Blues and the result was a big help to Biggleswade FC as they chase down Hadley at the top of the table – with games in hand.
After a week not playing Arlesey brought back skipper Tom Guiney and had Aarron Browne replace the unavailable Billy Lannon up front. There was also a welcome return of Adam Randall on the bench after his injury.
The first piece of controversy came early on as Emmanuel Hammond and Adam Mead challenged for a ball, it came out into the area and was taken by Robbie Ponting; Hadley claimed it was a back pass and the ref awarded free kick – Paul Wright shot wide.
Arlesey countered and a great move by Aedan Gaffney on the wing saw him beat two and wriggle into the Hadley box before being dispossessed by a great tackle.
On 42 minutes a long ball forward found Hammond through and he collided very heavily with the outrushing Ponting; the two players crashed to the floor and the ball rolled into the net.
With Hammond injured it looked like the ref had initially awarded a penalty, but he consulted the linesman and awarded a goal for Hadley. Hammond had eventually to go off to be replaced by Peter Rosemin.
Arlesey started the second period positively with the wind now at their backs and from a free kick Tom Guiney headed strongly just the wrong side of the post. Smith and Lamond both had chances blocked and Hatch hit a strong shot over the bar.
A good move saw Smith feed O’Brien into the box and he was felled with a sliding tackle for an easy call from the ref for penalty. Lorrell Smith slotted home for his 18th strike of the season and 1-1 on 55 minutes.
Arlesey were still looking to get forward, a great ball from Smith looked to have slipped Browne through and he finished really well past the keeper before seeing the flag for what must have been a very tight offside.
Hadley made a final push as time ran down; a corner was well taken by Ponting before a ‘ruck’ happened on the edge of the Arlesey area, after consulting both linesmen the ref booked both Kai Ashley and Bradley Marriott. The free kick came to nothing.
Next up is a series of away games starting with lowly Cockfosters on Saturday.