Lewis Ward - two late saves
HUNGERFORD TOWN go into tonight’s opening home game of the new Vanarama National League campaign on the back of taking a point off league favourites Dartford on their own turf on Saturday.
The goal-less draw at Dartford in front of the day’s biggest crowd in the division was a step up from their 2-0 defeat that Hungerford suffered early on last year in a season that took them within inches and a few seats of a play-off place.
A game of plenty of action but few real chances saw Lewis Ward save well from Lyle Della-Verde, but Dartford’s Deren Ibrahim deny Louis Soares, Luke Williams and especially Stefan Brown as Hungerford went home happy with a point.
“Not one of them gave me less than 10 out of 10,” said manager Bobby Wilkinson. “My boys did what we do and everyone knows that if you are looking to beat us, you’ve got to earn it.
“We were organised and I thought we were the better side in the second half, but I’ll take a point away from home.”
Wilkinson abandoned his pre-season 4-3-3 preference to edge back to a 4-4-2 and said: “I knew we had to come here and set up differently, but I enjoy doing that.
“One or two were not playing in their positions but they accepted that and they should be proud of what they did. We’re here and fighting for every point.”
Hungerford tonight (Monday) play their first game at Bulpit Lane since April having brought in outside help to get the surface up to standard, and they take on a Weston-Super-Mare side that set off on Saturday with a 2-1 home defeat at home to Poole Town.
New manager Marc McGregor has rebuilt the Weston squad after finishing 15th last season and on the eve of the new campaign made four new signings, only to be beaten on Saturday in a game that saw all three goals come in the last 15 minutes, two of those in stoppage time.
“I’ll see how everyone recovers by Monday,” said Wilkinson. “I had to make some difficult decisions on Saturday and do I go with the same or freshen it up?
“I had to leave out some class players, and I said they didn’t have to travel and could go into the gym and just be fit for Monday, but they all came and that shows what we are about.
“Weston will be difficult. They have a new manager and a good footballing side and they will find our pitch better than it was last year.”
Wilkinson omitted Jon Boardman, Mike Jones, Jamal Lawrence, Marcus Beauchamp and the holidaying Luke Hopper from Saturday’s squad with Hopper also missing out tonight.