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Emotional weekend for Hungerford ends in comeback win

Hungerford Town boss Danny Robinson admitted he didn't pull any punches at half time in his side's 3-1 win over Beaconsfield Town on Saturday.

A toothless Crusaders found themselves 1-0 down at the break after Sam Granville's strike and didn't re-emerge for the second half until two minutes after the visitors, presumably because Robinson and assistant Andy Darnton hadn't finished laying down the law.

However the hosts turned the game on its head within seven minutes of the restart, with new man Dave Tarpey equalising in the 49th minute and then skipper Rhys Tyler giving the Crusaders the lead three minutes later before substitute Elis Watts made it 3-1 in added time.

Hungerford Town bounce back from successive defeats with a 3-1 win over Beaconsfield
Hungerford Town bounce back from successive defeats with a 3-1 win over Beaconsfield

"I earned my money at half time to be fair," Robinson said.

"The first half felt like a pre-season game, there was no tempo, no intensity.

"It was rubbish, boring, I wouldn't give seven quid to watch that.

"There were a few choice words and I'm very proud of how the players reacted.

"You've got to have character to play for me, and that's exactly what my players showed in the second half."

New recruit Dave Tarpey, who signed on a two month loan from Leatherhead in the week, scored the equaliser and impressed with his performance after coming on for the injured Fabio Lopes midway through the first half.

Tarpey scored 87 goals in 124 games for National League Maidenhead and earned a move to then Football League side Barnet but suffered a season ending anterior cruciate ligament injury on his debut.

Since recovering, he's enjoyed prolific spells at Southern Premier League sides Bracknell and Leatherhead, scoring twice as The Tanners beat fellow West Berkshire side Thatcham Town last term, and has been added to Robinson's ranks in the hope he'll ease the load on frontman Conor McDonagh.

Robinson said: "Tarps is a natural goalscorer in the traditional mould.

"He's made a career out of scoring goals from a yard, he's got a knack of being in the right place at the right time.

"He's brought into what we're trying to do straight away and I have to say thank you to Hayden (Bird, Leatherhead manager) for facilitating the move.

"We're delighted to have him."

Hungerford have played 4-2-3-1 in all of their opening three league games as well as their seven pre-season friendlies, but reverted to a back three in an effort to deal with the absence of the suspended Matt Berry-Hargreaves and injured Mike Baker and to provide support to striker Conor McDonagh.

"We wanted to strengthen at both ends," Robinson said.

"Obviously we didn't have Bez (Matt Berry-Hargreaves) and Mike Baker, who we think is going to be out for six to 10 weeks with a broken foot, and we knew Beaconsfield would line up with a 3-5-2.

"The two games against Chesham and Bracknell, we didn't provide enough support to Conor McDonagh.

"We're not blind, we do see things and we felt it was important to get another centre-forward on the pitch, especially when we've got someone like Dave Tarpey.

"We've got flexibility within the squad, we can play with a four and a three depending on who we come up against."

Saturday was a poignant day for the town, with the club marking the 36th anniversary of the Hungerford tragedy - when 16 innocent people lost their lives - with a minute's silence prior to kick-off.

And Robinson, who spoke with heartfelt compassion about the horrific event, said he was hopeful the club were able to put smiles on faces on a difficult day for the town.

He said: "Sometimes people think life's hard, but then there are people here today who lost loved ones 36 years ago, those people know what hardship is.

"Football's not hardship, football is enjoyment - especially at this level - and we want to give something back.

"If we can make even one person who was involved on that fateful day 36 years ago happy today then we've done our job - and I like to think we have.

"This town has gone through that unforgettable tragedy but it's a hardworking town, full of great people with great resilience and great character and I hope we can embody that here at the football club."

Robinson can now turn his attention towards a busy bank holiday weekend with Hungerford, who are up to eighth in the Southern Premier League South, travelling to unbeaten Salisbury on Saturday 26 before welcoming winless Didcot on Monday 28.

"There was a bit of pressure on us today," he said.

"We are Hungerford Town, I like to think we are a side that should be up there this season.

"I hate losing and so it was a difficult week in the lead up.

"We're going to enjoy this one, get back training on Tuesday and look ahead to two very difficult games coming up."

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