The referee’s stopwatch ticked its last. Eighty-nine minutes had been played with the scores two all. God knows how! Burridge could - no, make that should - have put this game to bed long ago. Sam Schwodler, who’d already received his second booking of the season, seemed to have made two-one, three. Had that been so, cigars would have been smoked, neat triangular passing met by cries of ‘Ole!’ Taunting the hapless opposition into chasing shadows like hungry dogs.
Alas, no. Out of nowhere a Hop defender, with the benefit of a double jointed hip, came good and clawed the ball away. Many chances had been squandered. Burridge were now forced to go all out for attack. Desperate for a winning goal. As for AFC Hop? Well, they kept at it. You had to give them that. They’d gone a goal down inside two minutes when Sam Hewitt bundled home Rob Kelly’s cross. Their scoring chances were few and far between. Only three more in number than Peter Crouch’s getting anywhere near Abby Clancy’s pants if he weren’t a professional footballer. But unlike Burridge, AFC Hop took their chances. All of them.
Hewitt’s goal was levelled by a header from a set piece before half-time. Luke Sanderson reclaimed Burridge’s lead in the second half when he volleyed in from inside the box from a corner. Once again AFC Hop scrambled a goal. Leaving us here. Deep in the eighty-ninth minute and Burridge trying to cook up a winner. Instead, Hop counter attacked, striking low and winning the game. The scorer screaming in delight into the face of left-back Sanderson. An unidentified Burridge player, clearly disappointed, drop kicked the ball into the AFC Hop scorer’s midriff. Halting his celebration, but starting a melee. An ugly end to a senseless game.
Ben Stanfield, Mark Sanderson, Jay Schwodler, Luke Sanderson, Rob Kelly, Ben Hutton, Justin Newman (Mark Reeves), Greg Baker, Ryan Jones (Matt Birks), Sam Hewitt, Sam Schwodler