Knaresborough beaten in crunch clash

Knaresborough Town's Brad Walker in action at Hallam. Picture: Craig Dinsdale

Knaresborough Town's Brad Walker in action at Hallam. Picture: Craig Dinsdale

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Knaresborough Town missed out on the chance to break into the NCEL Division One play-off places when they were well-beaten by rivals Hallam, on Saturday.

Paul Stansfield’s side began the day in seventh position, just two points behind their opponents, and would have moved ahead of them with a victory, but conceded three times before half-time in a 4-1 loss.

Kieran Watson gave Hallam a fifth-minute lead after Town stopper Ben Ledger kept out one shot but his defence then failed to clear the loose ball from the danger area.

Matt Ord then cut inside from the right only to fire over with the help of a deflection, but at the other end, Paul Atkinson shot narrowly too high in Knaresborough’s first attack.

Ledger tipped over a fine shot from Michael Blythen, but following a cross from the right, Jed Phillips hit Hallam’s second in the 18th minute when the ball was again allowed to drop at his feet.

Town tried to hit back and Harry Brown saw a shot saved and then flicked wide after Fraser Lancaster headed on a Simon Parkes throw-in.

In the 34th minute, the hosts were awarded a dubious penalty when Brad Walker’s attempt to head away resulted in the ball running down his back, but the referee penalised him for handball.

Watson’s firmly-struck spot-kick was to Ledger’s right but the goalkeeper managed to dive and tip it over the crossbar.

However, it was not long before a third did arrive for Hallam when Ord’s cross found an unmarked Oliver Beaumont who was allowed to bring the ball down and drive home in the 42nd minute.

Stansfield’s half-time team talk seemed to shake his side up and Jonty Maullin had a weak shot saved early in the second period, before Lancaster’s header was deflected wide and Brown shot over as the visitors took control.

Ledger did have to save from Ord as Hallam briefly threatened, but Lancaster then pulled a goal back in the 67th minute when he fired home following a Brown corner from the left wing.

Within a minute, any hopes of a comeback were extinguished when the hosts went 4-1 up in controversial circumstances.

Firstly, Maullin appeared to be fouled in the build-up to the goal and then Watson ran through from a seemingly offside position to beat Ledger as the Town defence appealed to the referee.

With the match over as a contest, Blaine Hobson then fired over as Knaresborough pressed for a second, but there were no more goals before the final whistle.