In an entertaining encounter at Potteries Park 1874 came back from two-nil down to earn a well deserved point.
The home side started brightly and took the game to 1874 who in all honesty tended to assist their opponents in the opening exchanges by losing possession far too easily and might have found themselves behind in the opening five minutes but their captain Woolley came to the rescue with a couple of timely tackles whilst a Hanley forward wasted a golden opportunity to score in the 4th minute by blasting the ball against the crossbar from close in when it looked as though it was easier to score
However, in the 8th minute Hanley did open the scoring when poor marking at a corner by 1874 allowed the unmarked Keats to easily head the ball home.
Less than ten minutes later Mark Jones – the usual pivotal rock at the heart of the 1874 defence – had to leave the field after an unfortunate clash of heads left him with an injury. He was replaced by substitute Waite-Jackson which resulted in skipper Woolley having to drop back into the back line.
In the 22nd minute 1874 nearly equalised and had they done so the goal may well have been a contender for “goal of the season” as good work by Gardner on the right finished with an inch-perfect cross into the box and with his back to goal McGowan hit a wonderful overhead kick to force a good save from Mellor the home goalkeeper
For the rest of the half both sides were quick to try and get forward as much as possible with the home side favouring a more direct style whilst 1874 tried to gain the advantage with clever build up play which more often than not saw Sam Hare at the heart of operations.
HT 1 – 0
After the interval 1874’s intentions were soon in evidence as they pushed forward in search of an equaliser and whilst they tried hard they couldn’t quite get the required break and the inevitable happened when the home side increased their lead just before the hour mark through Mealey who unleashed an unstoppable 25 yard free kick in to the top of the net giving Rigby no chance to save. This reverse may have resulted in a defeat for 1874 but their never say die attitude once again came to the fore as they set about trying to rescue something from the game.
To everyone’s delight that goal did come when in the 67th minute Taylor Fletcher hit a strong shot that was deflected into goal to give his side hope of getting something from the game.
And this they achieved in the 78th minute when the “ever reliable” McGowan was on hand to equalise by hooking the ball into the net after a shot by Kennerley had rebounded off a post.