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Hard luck at the end of a hard week

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Crusaders lose first outing after seven days of rebuilding

Stephane Ngamvoloulou - gave Crusaders renewed hope
Stephane Ngamvoloulou - gave Crusaders renewed hope

Hungerford Town 2 Gloucester City 3

HUNGERORD’S first post-Wilkinson game ended in defeat, but it was a major task just getting things together to put on a show on the pitch.

With the entire backroom staff gone, caretakers Jon Boardman and Ian Herring had to find back-up, medical and other assistance, with former Walton and Hersham and Hayes and Yeading and player-boss helping out on the touchline as Herring took a sideline role at first.

“It’s been a very difficult week, obviously,” he said, “one that’s been made more difficult by certain things that have gone on behind the scenes.”

They include former manager Bobby Wilkinson making approaches for a couple of his former charges, but Herring was buoyed by the attitude of the players.

“We prepared the lads the best we can and all of them have been brilliant,” he said. “We thought they would be.”

“We didn’t get the result we wanted” said Boardman, “but we’re glad to get this one out of the way, to be honest.

At least we proved we’ve got that fight still in us.”

Hungerford needed the boost of a goal, but instead twice found themselves having to battle back from two-goal deficits.

Gloucester gave Hungerford a scare after only 45 seconds when Ed Williams forced Lewis Ward down to save although opposite number Tom Hadler had to scramble away a Scott Rees drive shortly afterwards.

But Paul Stonehouse had to clear off the line from Joe Hanks before Gloucester went ahead after 17 minutes when Williams picked up a loose ball to drive left-footed beyond Ward’s dive from 25 yards out.

Luke Hopper clipped a shot over the top against his former club, but Gloucester doubled their lead after 33 minutes when Williams and Hanks combined and the former’s cross was glanced home by Joe Parker.

Hungerford grabbed a lifeline before the break when Louis Soares found space on the left to get behind the defence to drive in a low cross-cum-shot that Hadler could only parry and defender Kieran Parselle helped it over his own line.

But Hungerford were again chasing a two goal deficit six minutes after the re-start when the ball was pumped forward and Parker took advantage of some dodgy bounces off the surface to flick the ball past Boardman and then Ward before walling it come.

Herring came on along with Nicholas Bignall and Stephane Ngamvoulou and Hungerford showed some spirit as they took charge for much of the second half.

They got the goal they needed midway through the half when Rhys Tyler got free down the right and is cross was driven home by Ngamvoulou and they were nearly back on terms when Stefan Brown knocked down a Callum Willmoth cross to Luke Hopper, but Hadler was out quickly to block.

They were inches away shortly afterwards when Willmoth’s free kick was met by Boardman’s head and Hadler had to scramble back to keep it out right on the line with Hopper pressing.

Hopper neatly bundled his way through before Hadler and defender Robbie Cundy barred the way, and Hungerford had to settle for a defeat that sent them into second to bottom spot in the table in advance of Monday’s trip to Poole Town.

Hungerford Town: Ward; Tyler, Boardman, Partridge, Stonehouse; Clark, Willmoth, Rees, Soares; Brown, Hopper. Subs: Herring, Ngamvooulou, Bignall, Meechan, Bentley.

Gloucester City: Hadler; Thomas, Cundy, Hamilton, Parselle; Hanks, Mullings, E. Williams, Webb; Moore, Parker. Suns: Page, Kotwica, Avery, Chambers, Morford.

Referee: Jason Richardson (Ruislip). Attendance: 332.

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