Words and photo by Nigel Owen.
Ollerton ended their September fixtures with a home game against 3rd placed Winterton Rangers, with both sides looking to bounce back from defeats last week and return to winning ways.
There was little between the two sides in the opening exchanges, but it was the visitors who enjoyed the first real spell of pressure with two corners in quick succession. The first, in the 5th minute, drifted harmlessly wide, while the second was punched clear by ‘keeper Levi Owen.
In the 9th minute, Ollerton created their first chance. Ben Partridge broke down the right and pulled the ball back to Lewis Bingham on the edge of the box. His looping cross was falling invitingly for Conor Higginson, but Winterton ‘keeper Nathan Popple claimed the ball.
Two minutes later, the visitors had the ball in the net when Bruno Holden headed home Oliver Hamilton’s cross, but the referee had already blown for a foul by the striker on Town defender Tom Moody.
With 15 minutes gone, Ollerton had a great chance to open the scoring. Ben Partridge beat Gareth Barlow and cut in on goal, but his effort was well blocked by Popple.
Partridge was not to be denied 5 minutes later, when he fired across goal,into the bottom corner to give the home side the lead. It was no more than Partridge deserved for his willingness to run at defenders at every opportunity.
The goal gave the home side a boost, and they were the better side for the remainder of the half.
On 24 minutes, Lewis Bingham’s cross from the left hand side, found Higginson but his effort went over the crossbar.
The same two players combined four minutes later. This time Bingham’s cross from the right was headed goalwards by Higginson, but skimmed the top of crossbar with Popple beaten.
At the other end, Winterton had to wait until a 38th minute corner to put pressure on the Ollerton defence. From an in swinging corner, Owen tipped the ball behind at the back post under pressure from Holden.
Then, with half time approaching, Bingham almost doubled the home sides lead. After picking up the ball inside the Winterton half, he outpaced two defenders before unleashing a swerving right foot shot. with Popple beaten, the ball rattled the Winterton crossbar, before somehow bouncing back into play, to be cleared by a defender.
Then, as the game entered first half added time, a ball into the Winterton box was headed across goal by George Slack. The ball fell to Higginson 12 yards out, but the striker couldn’t keep his shot down and the ball sailed over the bar.
That was the last action of any note in the first half. The teams returned to the dressing rooms with the home side leading 1-0 when it could, and perhaps should have been a greater margin.
The opening exchanges of the second half were fairly even, with neither team able to create a clear cut chance.
Then, in the fifth minute of the half, the hosts lost Sam Stretton, after what seemed to be an elbow in the face received in an aerial battle with Holden. After lengthy treatment, Stretton was replaced by substitute Sam Martin.
Despite the loss of their skipper, Ollerton continued to look for a second goal, and it almost came in the 53rd minute. Partridge broke down the right but his cross was turned away for a corner by Popple, as Higginson dived in at the back post.
From the corner, Popple came to punch, but the ball flicked off defender Kieran Wressell’s head and fell to Higginson who shot agonisingly wide.
Two minutes later Owen slid out smartly to take the ball from the the feet of Robbie Start as he broke into the Ollerton box.
In the 63rd minute, Partridge ran at the Winterton defence and outpaced Wressell, and shot from a tight angle, only to see his effort blocked by Popple.
Then, with 64 minutes on the clock, Winterton found their way back into the game, when Holden turned and volleyed a superb equaliser to make the scores 1-1.
Back came Ollerton and on 68 minutes Partridge was bundled over on the edge of the box, but the referee waved away Ollerton protests as play continued.
Five minutes later Lewis Murr picked up the ball 25 yards out and beat four Rangers defenders before being bundled over inside the box. As the Ollerton players looked to the official, he waved play-on once again, much to the relief of the Winterton back line.
With 11 minutes remaining, Owen was called into action when he parried away a shot from Winterton’s Jaime Turre. From the resulting corner Wressell rose above everyone to head goalwards, but Moody blocked the ball on the goal line before completing the clearance.
As the game entered the final ten minutes, the visitors had the ball in the Ollerton net when Turre beat Owen to the ball, to head home, but Winterton celebrations were cut short as the assistant referee raised his flag to give Turre offside.
In the 86th minute, Ollerton had the chance to win the game when Sean Dickinson broke into the box and unleashed a left foot effort, which was blocked by Wressell at the expense of a corner.
Ollerton continued to press and Bingham again went close, with his deflected effort dropping onto the roof of the net, with the Rangers defence scrambling the resulting corner away.
Then with time running out, Popple enjoyed a moment of fortune when he mis-controlled Barlow’s back pass and the ball went straight under his foot, but ran out for a corner. Then, with the game deep in injury time, Popple rode his luck again as he spilled a cross, but saw the ball drop safely away from any Ollerton player.
That proved to be the last action of any note and the referee brought the game to an end with the scoreline 1-1.
Ollerton will be pleased with such a gritty, determined performance against one of this season’s ‘fancied’ sides. With a little more luck in front of goal, the point could have been three. Recent performances have shown that on their day, Town can compete with anyone in the division and next weekend will have to be one of those days, when they face a tough game away at Selby Town.