Bees stung by visitors’ fightback
Studley 2, Congleton Town 2
STUDLEY let a two-goal lead slip as title rivals Congleton clawed their way back to claim a point in this enthralling contest between the top two in the MFL Premier.
IN a game of contrasts, the home side dominated for much of the first half before their visitors rallied after the break with a draw just about the right outcome even though it took a triple save from Congleton keeper Dave Parton in the final moments to preserve his side’s share of the spoils.
It took second-placed Bees just nine minutes to make the breakthrough. Relentless pressing had already forced Congleton into errors and when Tom Allen’s pass went astray in the middle of the park, the ball was picked up by Romario Martin who ran towards goal before dispatching a left-footed effort beyond the Bears keeper.
Reiss Taylor-Randle whipped a ball across the face of the visitors’ goal soon after while Dan Needham put a shot high and wide when well-placed at the other end.
Studley then began to take control with John Mills forcing Parton into a save on 23 minutes before Robbie Thompson-Brown shot over after cutting in from the left flank.
The home side’s dominance was rewarded on 32 minutes when Parton was dispossessed by Martin and when the ball fell to Fin Holmes, the former Stourbridge youngster gleefully slotted into the empty net.
And he looked certain to add another just three minutes later only for Parton to redeem himself with a smart save at the foot of his near post.
A two-goal lead was nothing less than the Bees deserved at the break but it wasn’t to be with Congleton scrambling a goal back in the 45th minute, defender Mackenzie Faulkner claiming the final touch as the home defence failed to deal with a corner.
The home side recovered well from that set-back though and created further chances at the start of the second period with Thompson-Brown finding the outside of the post and Holmes pushing an effort wide. On the hour, Parton was again called on to dive full-length to keep out Thompson-Brown’s free-kick.
Opposite number Brendon Bunn was having a quiet afternoon at the other end other than to deal with a series of high balls into the box but he was forced into a low save midway through the half to deny George Sankey.
But on 81 minutes he was picking the ball out of his net after substitute Dan Cocks fired home from the penalty spot after he had been nudged over inside the box.
Max McCarthy and Cocks then squandered good chances to edge the visitors ahead but the pick of the late chances came in the fifth minute of added time when Parton secured a point for the Bears with fine saves to twice deny Studley substitute Zac Guinan and Thompson-Brown as the Bees broke upfield in search of a winner.
Studley: Bunn, Cox, Lake, Walton, Eden, Harbon (Monteith 72), Mills, Taylor-Randle, Thompson-Brown, Martin (Guinan 76), Holmes (Baker 86). Subs (not used): McGuigan, Corns.
Congleton: Parton, Fregapane (Hampton 78), Dickinson, Williams, Faulkner, Chadwick, Sankey, Allen (Cocks 63), McCarthy (Barton 85), Hartshorn, Needham. Subs (not used): Roberts, Duffy.
Referee: Cameron Danks
Studley star man: Fin Holmes
Opposition star man: Pete Williams