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New man Tarps is on the mark as Hungerford bounce back with Beaconsfield win





Hungerford Town bounced back from successive defeats with a 3-1 win over Beaconsfield on Saturday.

On a poignant day for the town, with players and spectators marking 36 years since 16 innocent people were killed in the Hungerford Tragedy, the Crusaders recovered from a poor first half performance with a much-improved second half showing.

Hungerford players observe a minute's silence. All pictures by Jeff Youd
Hungerford players observe a minute's silence. All pictures by Jeff Youd

A lacklustre Hungerford struggled to get going in the opening 45 minutes and went a goal down following Sam Granville's strike but found their feet after the break, making it two home wins from two thanks to goals from new man Dave Tarpey, skipper Rhys Tyler and substitute Elis Watts.

Boss Danny Robinson made changes in personnel and shape from Tuesday evening's disappointing 3-1 defeat to local rivals Bracknell, with Jack Stanley, Luke Carnell and Brad Hooper all returning to the side as Hungerford set up with a back three in the absence of the suspended Matt Berry-Hargreaves.

Prior to kick-off, players on both sides came together in the centre circle to observe a minute's silence in honour of the 16 individuals whose lives were tragically cut short on the town's darkest day 39 years ago.

There wasn't much to separate the two sides in the first half but Beaconsfield, who arrived at Bulpit Lane winless in their first three games, managed to dominate Hungerford physically, with Elliot Buchanan in particular causing problems as he drifted across the front of Hungerford's three centre-halves.

Midfielder Joe Shepherd put in another tireless performance
Midfielder Joe Shepherd put in another tireless performance

The Crusaders struggled to create chances, with a number of long balls sent forward more in hope than expectation proving easy enough for the Rams defence to deal with.

However, the first effort of note fell to the hosts after 21 minutes when Beaconsfield failed to deal with a trademark Nathan Davis long throw but Fabio Lopes, who was on the turn and off balance, could only fire over the bar from the edge of the box.

That was to be one of Lopes' final contributions as the attacker, who started as a second striker in support of Conor McDonagh, was forced off with an injury and was replaced by former Football League frontman Dave Tarpey, who signed on a two month loan from Leatherhead in the week.

Most of the action in the remainder of the first half was down the other end, with Beaconsfield taking the lead in the 25th minute after no one picked up the run of Buchanan - who managed to drift in across the back three and get in behind Matt Partridge, on the right of the defensive trio, on a number of occasions - and, while Ryan Clarke produced a sharp initial save from the former Farnborough forward, the Crusaders defence were slow to react and Sam Granville scored the rebound from the edge of the box.

It almost got worse for the hosts 90 seconds later when Buchanan again found space in between Partridge and wing-back Rhys Tyler and, after he'd initially been forced to turn back by the onrushing Clarke, the ball rebounded to the experienced frontman but he dragged his strike wide of the near post from close range.

Beaconsfield went close to doubling their lead on the stroke of half time when a sloppy pass from Partridge gifted the ball to James Dobson, who laid it off to Elijah Anthony and the impressive wing-back picked out Asher Yearwood at the back post but the marauding midfielder failed to connect with his header and it bounced harmlessly over Ryan Clarke's crossbar.

While Danny Robinson didn't make any changes at the break, there were doubtless some stern words as Hungerford returned for the second half some two minutes after the visitors.

Whatever Robinson and assistant Andy Darnton said to their players, it had an almost instant impact and the Crusaders were level four minutes after the restart when Luke Carnell flicked a diagonal free-kick to the back post and Matt Partridge volleyed the ball across goal for new recruit Dave Tarpey - who scored 87 goals in 124 games for National League Maidenhead, earning a move to then Football League side Barnet - to tap in from close range.

New frontman Dave Tarpey marked his debut with a goal
New frontman Dave Tarpey marked his debut with a goal

Hungerford were ahead just three minutes later when Conor McDonagh headed Curtis Angell's ball across goal and skipper Rhys Tyler arrived undetected to score from six yards and make it 2-1.

Hungerford celebrate Rhys Tyler's strike, making it 2-1
Hungerford celebrate Rhys Tyler's strike, making it 2-1

The hosts managed the game well after taking the lead but the Rams were not without chances to equalise, going close on the hour when Buchanan's low driven half-volley from the edge forced an excellent save from Ryan Clarke diving low to his right.

Hungerford almost had a third with a quarter-of-an-hour of normal time remaining when some superb play from the tireless Conor McDonagh released Rhys Tyler down the right and Beaconsfield's Mater Sankoh did well not to turn the captain's cross into his own net at the back post.

Striker Conor McDonagh, battling for the ball, had another good game leading the line
Striker Conor McDonagh, battling for the ball, had another good game leading the line

The Crusaders made sure of the result six minutes into eight added on when substitute Elis Watts latched onto a forward ball, drove in from the right flank, beat two players and fired a left-footed strike underneath Sam Beasant and in to wrap up Hungerford's second home win of the season.

Hungerford, who are up to eighth in the Southern Premier League South, can now look ahead to two games in three days over the bank holiday weekend, beginning with a trip to unbeaten Salisbury on Saturday 26 and followed by the visit of pointless Didcot on Monday 28.



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