Vanarama National League South
Sunday 1 January 2017 - Bulpit Lane - kick off 3.00pm
||O'Leary, Rigg, Welch-Hayes, Andresson, Batten, Hemmings, Murphy, Artus (c), McCootie (Hunter 83), Morgan, Diallo. subs not used: Marshall, Hutchinson, Simpson.
|man of the match:
||McCootie (55), Hemmings (77)
||O'Leary (71), Artus (75), McCootie (83), Morgan (90)
||M Buonassisi, M Gospel, R Cox
|league position: 11th
||next match: Hampton & R'mond (H)
Report taken from
City battled from behind twice to earn a point from a lively second half at Hungerford Town.
Six days on from their 1-1 draw on Boxing Day, the Romans fell behind to a James Clark goal in the first half, which Nick McCootie levelled up after the interval.
Max O'Leary kept out a Stefan Brown penalty to retain parity, but the hosts went back in front soon enough as Harry Goodger was credited with the final touch on a scrappy goal.
Before they could settle on their lead, however, Chas Hemmings nodded in at a corner to bring a share of the spoils back west.
There were some pre-match fears that the game would be called off at the last as heavy rain left the Bulpit Lane pitch sodden.
But the action would get under way in intermittent drizzle and the odd snowflake, with the first period fittingly drab.
Hungerford just shaded the low-quality opening stanza and created the greater opportunities – Nat Jarvis forcing O'Leary into a sharp save within two minutes.
The hustling McCootie had a hand in the Romans' first chance, winning the ball back for a move that ended in Naby Diallo drilling low and into a defender from range.
The hosts continued to edge the game, but it was City that came closest to breaking the deadlock when Hemmings spread a wide ball on to Billy Murphy.
His scything cross found McCootie in a perfect position, only for the frontman to shin his shot onto the top of the bar.
Eventually the Crusaders went ahead just past the half-hour with a goal that stemmed from a poor clearance by O'Leary, that handed possession back to Hungerford.
They worked the ball out for Alan O'Brien to blaze down the left flank, to the byline and cross for Clark to find the corner with a perfectly controlled volley.
Although City had enough possession in the Hungerford half, they failed to create chances.
The hosts continued to press for another goal, space opening up for Jarvis to tamely shoot into O'Leary's hands from distance before Louie Soares and Ian Herring both had shots blocked during a scramble in the box.
Hungerford returned for the second half with vigour and immediately put City under pressure as Soares sent over a teasing cross and Mike Jones sent an overhead kick too high.
Superb build-up play between Luke Williams and Soares then set up Nick Bignall for an effort that the visitors blocked out.
Ten minutes into the second period, however, City levelled when Diallo cut back from the right wing for McCootie to hammer a deflected effort through a host of bodies and into the net.
Clark was back on the hunt for a second as Hungerford regrouped, thumping a shot that O'Leary pushed back his way, with the second effort deflected wide.
George Rigg was on hand to clear a Jon Boardman header off the line at a corner, before another flag-kick ended in a home penalty as Marvin Morgan handled at the near post.
Although O'Leary sprawled to his right to stop Stefan Brown's spot-kick, Hungerford were soon ahead again when a disputed free-kick landed in the penalty area and ricocheted in off Goodger as City tried to clear their lines.
Within two minutes the travelling side were back on terms again when Hemmings rose highest to plant Murphy's corner into the net, sparking exuberant celebrations.
Another spectacular overhead kick, this time from substitute Goodger, narrowly missed, while City had shouts for a penalty waved away after Shaquille Hunter was felled following good work from Morgan, who left Boardman in his wake.
There were nervy moments for the Romans when a dicey free-kick was just about dealt with, but the final chance of the game fell to Morgan, who drew a flopping save from George Legg with a meek strike.