HomeFeaturedLocal SportHanley Town return to winning ways with victory over Highgate United

Hanley Town return to winning ways with victory over Highgate United

Sometimes in football you need to win ugly, and that is the case for Hanley Town as three second-half goals saw them beat Highgate United.

Goals from Louis Dodds, Chris Dagnall and Reece Jones ensured that the men from the Payaro stadium kept their five-point lead ahead of Boldmere St. Michaels at the top of the Midlands Football League Premier Division.

Hanley came into this game on the back of their first loss of form all season. Having enjoyed a run of 12 games unbeaten, which stretched back to mid-December, the Town have only won once in their last four games. That was away to 3rd place Lichfield City. Other results were defeats to basement side Bewdley Town and sixth place Shifnal Town, while Walsall Wood held them to a draw.

It was a nervous start for the league leaders as they rushed several of their passes which saw them go astray, and it also took them 18 minutes to register their first real chance of the game when Dagnall headed a cross from Ryan Campbell-Gordon over the crossbar.

Dodds was next to have a go at opening the scoring when he broke the offside trap, but the Hanley captain was to see his effort saved by the legs of Highgate goalkeeper Reece Francis.

Anything Francis could do, Hanley goalkeeper Ben Chapman could do just as well when he denied Charlie Stanton, who looked set to score as he was left unmarked in the six-yard box. Goalkeeper coach Chapman was deputising between the sticks as first-choice keeper Kieran Harrison was out injured.

He also had a hand in what should have been the game’s opening goal as he caught a free-kick from Jamie Ashmore. His quick thinking saw him set up a counter-attack by throwing the ball out to Jones, who played a fantastic pass that split open the Highgate defence to Campbell-Gordon. The winger advanced on goal before bending the ball past Francis, but with everyone in the stadium expecting the strike to hit the back of the net, it bounced off the post and into the grateful hands of the recovering Francis.

With the inspiring words of player-manager Carl Dickinson ringing in their ears, Hanley started the second half strongly, and they took the lead just three minutes after the break thanks to a fine finish from Dodds. The Hanley captain finished off a lovely move when he used the outside of his foot to lash the ball past Francis.

It was 2-0 to the league leaders on 56 minutes when Dagnall found the back of the net for his 16th goal of the season. He saw his first shot parried by Francis. However, the effort fell to Dodds, who pulled it back to Dagnall, and he made no mistake the second time around to give Hanley a bit of breathing space.

Campbell-Gordon deserved a goal with his performance, and he should have scored when he headed a cross from Charlie Walford over the crossbar at the far post.

However, Hanley got their third goal with 20 minutes left on the clock when Dagnall set Jones free down the wing. Jones was able to race away before calmly slotting the ball past Francis for his 18th goal of the season and seal a vital win for Hanley.

Hanley needed to win this game as their nearest challengers to the title- Boldmere St.Michael’s won 3-0 at Romulus, and they have two big games coming up over the Easter weekend. First up is the visit of Worcester City on Easter Saturday, and then on Easter Monday 2nd place Boldmere St.Michael’s make the journey to Staffordshire for what could well be the title decider.

After the game, I spoke to Hanley Town player-manager Carl Dickinson about the result.

Hanley Town: Chapman, Green, Walford, Sanders, Stubbs, Shotton, Jones (Malbon, 76), Dickinson, Dagnall, Dodds (Twyford, 83) and Campbell-Gordon (Avery, 76).
Unused subs: Gibbs and Cotterill.

Highgate United: Francis, Mooney, Pulisciano, Williams, Ashmore, Hawkins, Clements (Batchelor, 79), Morrison, Smith (Gbehe, 52) and Stanton.
Unused sub: O’Neill Martin

Richard Scott
Richard Scott
Sports Reporter

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