Haxey FC 3
BFC Birches 2
HAXEY have endured a week of turmoil in which the club has lost their long serving manager and there has been talk of them folding and withdrawing from the Gainsborough and District League.
On the eve of their match against a high flying BFC Birches, Haxey only had ten available players and no goalkeeper. Thankfully Kings Arms goalkeeping legend Graham Skelton said he would help out and play. In these unlikely circumstances caretaker managers Mark Godley and Rob Hughes found a new formula which delivered a great victory and huge boost for the club.
This Haxey team may never have greatness bestowed upon them but they produced a display of courage which is the very essence of their character.
BFC Birches started the day second in the table just one point behind the leaders and it was clear from the kick off just why they are challenging at the top of the table. They knocked the ball around confidently and were strong in the tackle. Haxey were forced to defend resolutely as Birches launched wave after wave of attack, controlling much of the possession. However, due to the hard work of the Haxey team especially Sean Priest, Sam Garrity and Andrew Green in midfield Birches failed to turn this possession into chances. When they did carve out a clear cut chance Skelton in the Haxey goal performed magnificently producing a string of fine saves.
Unfortunately for Haxey the pressure finally told and Haxey conceded a goal after the ball was given away cheaply on the edge of their own area.
Five minutes before half time Haxey won a free kick near the halfway line after a vicious tackle. Set piece specialist Andrew ‘Eidur’ Green stepped up to take it, and whipped a dangerous ball into the heart of the Birches box. Battered and crippled by the cruel Birches defenders, Sean Priest rose above the oncoming keeper to bravely head the ball into the back of the net.
The second half began with both teams knowing that the next goal would be crucial. This was now the type of battle that midfield general Sean Priest thrives in and his class was beginning to shine through the chaos. He burst into the Birches box and an away defender left in his wake decided the only way to stop him was to hack him down, leaving the referee with no option but to award a penalty. Sam Garrity stepped up confidently and smashed the ball into the roof of the net with a venomous strike giving the keeper no chance.
It was Haxey who now started to pile on the pressure looking for a winning goal. Priest now oozing with confidence picked the ball inside the centre circle, glancing up noticed the opposition keeper off his line, and tried a speculative lob. The goalkeeper was scrambling back franticly, but fortunately for him the ball came back off the crossbar. Moments late Sam Garrity unleashed another ferocious effort from 25 yards that rocketed just inches over the crossbar. In the dying moments of the game Dan Basher collected the ball and went on a mazy run, cutting in from his position on the left wing to beat a defender before finishing neatly into the bottom corner.
All of the Haxey players put a lot of effort into this match, and this was the performance that we have been looking for. Everyone played for each other, worked and battled for the whole game. The man of the match was Graham Skelton for his all action display in the Haxey goal, but in truth it could have been any of the Haxey players.
Haxey are next in action at home in the cup against Fox and Hounds on December 3.