Words and photo by Nigel Owen.
After failing to win a game in August, Ollerton continued their super September with a second consecutive win, and for the second week running, striker Conor Higginson was the match winner.
Swallownest arrived at the Fast Frame Arena, looking to bounce back from two defeats in their previous two games, but boasting an unbeaten away record. The game had been re-arranged to take place just four weeks after the teams met in the reverse fixture at the 'Swall Siro', due to the FA Vase commitments of both teams original opponents.
There was little between the two sides in the opening minutes, with neither side able to create a clear-cut chance, but in the seventh minutes the hosts could, and perhaps should, have taken the lead.
A long throw-in from Sam Stretton was flicked towards his own goal by Swallownest full back Aaron Statham into the path of Town youngster Aaron Hewitt. His flick goal-wards was blocked by‘ keeper Rich Watson, and as Conor Higginson looked to finish from the rebound, the visitors somehow managed to scramble the ball clear.
At the other end, Danny Barnsley found room down the Swallownest right, but his squared ball into the area was cleared by Tom Moody.
Back came Ollerton and a ball into the box from Lewis Murr was headed behind by Statham as Hewitt closed in. From the resulting corner, Watson elected to punch and Swallownest captain Ollie Grady cleared the ball as it fell at the edge of the 18 yard box.
Swallownest then enjoyed good possession and twice, Town ‘keeper `Levi Owen had to get down quickly to collect the ball as it was driven into his six yard box.
On 16 minutes the home side almost broke the deadlock. A through-ball was chased by Hewitt, but a combination of Josh Statham and Watson forced the young striker out and the ‘keeper was able to collect.
Two minutes later it was Owen’s turn to be forced into action. Richard Williams shot from outside of the area, but the Ollerton ‘keeper saved comfortably. From his clearance, Hewitt broke free and his shot was saved by Watson at the expense of a corner.
For the remainder of the half, the two sides cancelled each other out in midfield, with few chances for either side. The only chance of any real note saw Danny Barnsley’s strike go narrowly wide, although Owen looked to have the ball covered.
Four of the five previous meetings between these two teams had ended in draws and after an even first half, with the score at 0-0, it wasn't hard to see why.
Ollerton dominated the opening exchanges of the second half without creating a clear-cut chance but with their first meaningful attack of the period, they took the lead. The ball fell to Lewis Bingham mid-way in the Swallownest half. His through ball put Higginson clear, and as the visitors defence appealed for offside, Higginson calmly slotted the ball past Watson to give the hosts the lead.
On the hour mark, Bingham got to the by-line and pulled the ball back into the path of substitute Ben Partridge, but just as the striker took aim, a last ditch tackle from Statham took the pace off of the ball and Watson was able to collect easily.
Partridge almost found himself in on goal again in the 63rd minute. The striker chased a long clearance but Watson read the danger well, and raced out of his box to kick clear.
Partridge did then get the better of the ‘keeper in the 71st minute after chasing down another long clearance. The striker beat Watson to the ball but was forced wide and the Swallownest defence were able to get back to clear the danger.
Going into the final ten minutes, Ollerton were on top but couldn’t find a second goal and might have been made to pay the price when a shot from full back Mitch Kent went across the six yard box eluding Grady and Barnsley before running out of play for a goal kick.
With time running out, the visitors were reduced to 10 men, when Alfie Smith saw red for a second bookable offence, after bringing Bingham down on the edge of the box.
That was the last action of any note, and Ollerton were able to run down the clock to record a second consecutive NCEL Division One victory.
Dave Winter’s men will be looking to continue their current form, but face a difficult away trip next Saturday, when the travel to eight place Campion.