Sikh Hunters put an end to Darlaston's perfect start to the season
By Simon Cox
Hunters dominate the league leaders in every department and deservedly take the points
League action returned the to The Paycare Ground, newly promoted Sikh Hunters were the visitors, last season’s Division Two Champions who also have a large following, therefore a bumper crowd of 194 witnessed 10-man Hunters end Darlaston’s 100% start to the season.
Welcomed back to The Paycare ground were last seasons Assistant Manager Andy Thomas, together with ex Darlaston players Tyrone Atkinson, Derry Cook, Ben Lawley, Dan Bell and Ashley Justin missed out through injury.
After last week’s 3-2 win against Warstones in the J.W. Hunt Cup Manager Parkes made six changes to his starting XI Josh Tolley, Daniel Bolzon, Leon Taylor, Ant Follows, Luke Charlton all returning to and Alex Solomon was given his first start. Gurdeep Wilkhoo and Adam Skeldon were left on the bench, together with Noah Diallo and Tyrone Clarke-O’Connell returned to the squad after missing the first six games through injury.
Within the first 30 seconds Sikh Hunters had their first chance, forward Hinesh Patel, waltzing through Darlaston’s midfield and defence beating several players, his shot was saved by 16-year-old keeper Ryan Pratt.
The first flash point in the game came in the 2nd minute, Kam Sandhu and Mark Swann were each shown a yellow card by Referee Adam Mullins after an incident whilst waiting for a free kick to be taken.
Sikh Hunters took the lead shortly after in the 4th minute, the busy Hinesh Patel once again found space, on the right edge of Darlaston’s penalty area, his strike was once again on target, Pratt managing to keep out his effort, but could only divert the ball into the path of the onrushing Mitch Lawley who found the back of the net, giving the visitors a dream start.
Darlaston’s only effort in the first 10 minutes was a Daniel Bolzon right foot shot from distance, which Liam Haynes dealt with.
It was clear from the kick off that Sikh Hunters had come to dominate Darlaston both physically and mentally, their players and fans were clearly up for the game in every way, first to the ball, hard in the challenge, encouraging each other, also taking every opportunity to put pressure on the league leaders and to dominate them at every opportunity. Darlaston appeared to have no answer to the questions Hunters asked.
Darlaston levelled the scores after 16 minutes. A Connor Archer foul on Daniel Bolzon wide on Darlaston’s left allowed Ryan Jones the opportunity to deliver a cross into Hunters six-yard box, which they struggled to clear. Ant Follows who was on the edge of the area was on hand to produce a dipping volley, finding the crossbar, the rebound fell to Danny Mayne who had no trouble beating the static Haynes to level the score.
The second flashpoint of the game followed a 50/50challenge in midfield between Charlton and Kam Sandhu, the latter leaving Charlton in a heap on the floor, play continued out to the left when Alex Solomon tackled Hunters Danny Bell. Solomon found himself on the floor with Bell standing over him, in the melee that followed Bell threw punches at Darlaston’s Causton, several other players got involved. Referee Mullins after consulting both his assistants produced a Red Card sending Bell back to the changing rooms, Causton also was cautioned for his part in proceedings.
Meanwhile Charlton was receiving treatment for a nasty knee injury, which saw him last a further 20 minutes, but he had to leave the game just before the half time interval through injury to be replaced by Ryan Kingdon.
The remainder of the half was littered with free kicks, both sides were guilty, Sikh Hunters had the best pf the half chances efforts from Malhi and the impressive Patel once again forcing Ryan Pratt into saves. Darlaston’s efforts were a dragged effort from debutant Solomon and a Swann effort was dealt with easily by Hunters keeper Haynes.
Darlaston suffered another huge blow before half time, after being hauled down for the umpteenth time Daniel Bolzon suffered a groin injury forcing from the pitch to be replaced by Adam Skeldon after 44 minutes.
Sikh Hunters were the better side in the first 45minutes, backed by their vocal supporters they were causing Darlaston all sorts of problems. The half-time break could not come quick enough for Darlo’s management team. Could they motivate their team to compete against the visitors?
No was the answer, Hunters started the second half as they finished the first. Top scorer Justin Nisbett was unfortunate on 48 minutes his header from six yards hit the underside of the bar, bouncing down close to the goal line, Referee Mullins waiving away the Hunters players appeals.
The victors mage their fist change on 50 minutes, the combative Kam Sandhu was replaced by Tom Oldaker.
Darlaston’s Danny Mayne has an effort charged down after good work by Follows ad Causton, the ball found Tolley in space, but his effort was high.
Sikh Hunters re-took the lead after they were awarded a penalty on 57 minutes. A long ball from the visitor’s defence was allowed to bounce in the Darlaston penalty area, Mitch Tolley scorer of the opening goal in the game was brought down by keeper Pratt as Tolley had beaten Pratt and Jones to the ball and looked a certain goal. Keeper Pratt was the third player to be shown the yellow card.
Up stepped Hunters dead ball specialist Sanjay Malhi, his effort was beaten away by Ryan Pratt, unfortunately the ball reached top scorer Nisbett who had no difficulty in scoring 2-1 to the visitors.
Eight minutes later on 65minutes the home side levelled for the second time in the game, god play between Sam Causton and Danny Mayne saw a deep cross find debutant Alex Solomon who scored for the second game running taking advantage of Haynes indecision and scored unchallenged.
The home sides joy was short lived 2 minutes later Hunters were in front again. A corner from Hunters left wasn’t cleared, Pratt making a full stretch stop, a poor clearance was met on the volley by substitute Tom Oldaker his sweetly struck volley had no trouble in bulging Darlaston’s net.
Could Sikh Hunters see out the remaining twenty-three minutes, yes with ease, Darlaston created no clear-cut change even though Tyrone Clarke-O’Connell played his first minutes of the season. In fact Hunters had three good chances to add the tree already scored, Pratt saving two and the other just missing the post.
Darlaston’s unbeaten run has finished, beaten 3-2 by a team that played an extremely combative, physical and intimidating match, backed by a good number of supporters, this helped to create a real hostile atmosphere which Darlaston couldn’t deal with, they were never given anytime to settle on the ball, Hunters pressed and looked to dominate all the time, and this was with 10 men for 70 minutes of the game. Clearly Matty Lovatt and his team came with a plan, it worked Darlaston were nowhere near their best and paid the price and credit to Sikh Hunters
Despite what people may think of Sikh Hunters and their behaviour on and off the pitch, they took on the unbeaten league leaders and took all 3points, credit where credit is due to play with 10 men for 70 minutes and win so convincingly is some achievement.
Manager Parkes and his assistant Scott Moore will now have to raise/motivate their squad for next weeks top of the table clash at Team Dudley it seems that every game is massive at the moment. Kick off is 3 pm and the match will be played on the plastic at Dudley College, Priory Road Dudley.
Match Report written by Simon Cox