Red Bull were the visitors to Hemingford on a perfect morning for football, providing a stern test after the long break caused by a combination of weather and cancellations. Manager Kingy had managed to put together a strong squad including a couple of new faces, Pep and Andy. From the first whistle both teams played a good, sharp-passing game although the uneven surface was causing problems, Howie falling victim to the invisible sniper at one point and going to ground with no-one near him. These games are usually tight affairs, but the deadlock was broken after only 12 minutes when a defensive mix-up in the Red Bull defence left Midge one-on-one with the keeper and he doesn’t miss many from these situations.
Their response was predictable and some strong defence was needed, two-touch putting in one superb last-ditch challenge on the edge of the area. Despite this the game was level ten minutes later when their excellent midfielder found space from a corner to head firmly home. Hemingford had looked good for their lead so this was a setback but driven on by some solid play from Gav and Daz at the back and Sedge finding the front runners with long , probing passes the home side went in search of another. A knock-down from Two Touch gave Sedge a sight of goal from the edge of the D and his measured low curling shot looked destined for the bottom corner until Dave, in goal for the visitors diverted the ball round the post with a superb save for a corner. Sedge blazed another shot just over and then Howie played Midge in with a clever flick but Midge’s shot was marginally wide. It was by no means one-way traffic and the defence were kept on their toes by Red Bull’s fast counter attacks with big Kev outstanding in the air and holding the line well. On balance though, Hemingford were just on top and when the second goal came it was worth the wait, Howie finishing a cross-field move with a superb rising shot from around 25 yards. Half-time 2-1.
Sedge’s team talk emphasised the threat that Red Bull constantly carry and the need to keep the tempo and concentration to preserve the lead. So it was that for around 15 minutes the Hemingford defence was put under pressure but not found wanting. Pep had replaced Andy at the break and his presence alongside Kev Hurst together with the industry of Two Touch in midfield reduced Red Bull to long-range efforts. One of these, however, following a clearance by the home keeper from well outside his area was looping into the net but the ever willing Twos got back to head over from virtually under his own crossbar. A third was needed to steady the nerves and it was Gav who came up with a strong contender for goal of the season when he dispossessed their winger and ran fully three quarters of the length of the pitch before slotting home with the Red Bull defenders trailing in his wake.
One thing is certain however, Red Bull do not give up. Back they came and for long periods it was backs-to the wall defending, albeit no clear cut chances were conceded. At the other end Hemingford were relying more and more on break-always and Chris Parker, who had been excellent throughout, ran through and finished superbly in off the bar only for his effort to be ruled marginally offside. Shortly afterwards he turned his ankle on the rough ground and hobbled painfully off to be replaced by Nigel. At this point it seemed as though Hemingford would hold out for the win as the defence was coping well with anything thrown at them but an attempted cross from their right midfielder came off his shin and looped agonisingly in under the bar to make the score 3-2 with ten to play. Often in the past this fixture has ended with a victory being snatched away at the last but credit has to go to Red Bull for never conceding defeat until the final whistle. Some hectic defending followed and it seemed as though the jinx might return although to be perfectly fair no clear-cut chances were conceded. With time running out it was Conor who put the result beyond doubt with another break away, finishing expertly with the outside of his boot and under big Dave in goal. Final score 4-2.
Across the pitch Hemingford were well served today. Everyone played their part in an excellent game of football, which was played in the right spirit. No-one could argue that the win was not deserved . Midge and Howie were a constant threat up front, Sedge and the ever-industrious Two-touch won the midfield battle, ably assisted by Chris and Conor providing width, whilst at the back Kev Hurst marshalled his defence to great effect. Then, of course, there was Gav with his Duracell bunny impersonation. If he hadn’t scored with his lung-bursting run he would probably have carried on right through to St Ives !