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Robinson rues missed chances as Hungerford let lead slip late on in disappointing defeat to strugglers Hayes and Yeading

Hungerford Town boss Danny Robinson was left frustrated by missed chances as his side twice squandered a lead in a 3-2 defeat to strugglers Hayes and Yeading.

Conor McDonagh fired the visitors in front just before the break but both Fabio Lopes and Elis Watts squandered presentable first half chances as the Crusaders were unable to capitalise on a largely dominant opening period.

Town twice came from behind before scoring an added time winner in last weekend’s dramatic 3-2 win over rivals Swindon Supermarine but the shoe was on the other foot this time around in West London; Ronan Silva drew the hosts level and, after substitute Great Evans restored Hungerford’s lead, the returning Mo Bettamer equalised with eight minutes of normal time remaining and Silva won it with his second of the game in added time.

Robinson felt missed chances cost his side in Saturday’s defeat to Hayes and Yeading
Robinson felt missed chances cost his side in Saturday’s defeat to Hayes and Yeading

Hungerford have now dropped 17 points from winning positions this season and Robinson insists Town will have to be more clinical if they’re to get themselves back into play-off contention.

“I can’t fault the effort and determination of the players; the only thing that let us down was our finishing,” he said.

“We should’ve been out of sight. We missed two cracking opportunities before Conor scored and we got punished for it.

“We conceded two infuriating goals, especially the one straight after we’d just got our noses back in front, I think it was something like 32 seconds after we scored that they equalised.

“It’s just one of those. The actual performance was good but individual errors and not taking our chances cost us.”

Robinson was left especially frustrated by the manner in which the Crusaders conceded their second goal, less than a minute after Great Evans made it 2-1 from the penalty spot.

The visitors switched off from the kick-off, allowing Libyan international Mo Bettamer to glide past Matt Berry-Hargreaves and roll a left-footed strike beyond Nicky Harvey.

Former Crawley man Ronan Silva sent the Crusaders home empty handed with a 92nd minute winner – but it was the goal that allowed the hosts to draw level that left Robinson seething.

He said: “We were just not in position at all.

“Unfortunately Matt, who has been absolutely fantastic, just let a player run right past him.

“They say you’re most vulnerable when you score and it’s happened to us a couple of times this season, so that’s tough to take.

“It is something we need to eradicate very quickly.”

Town made two changes, with tough-tackling midfielder Joe Shepherd making a welcome return from suspension and replacing Adulai Sambu – with last week’s match-winner Fabio Lopes moving into a more advanced position – while Jack Alexander replaced Brad Hooper, who was absent but is expected to be back this Saturday.

That meant Robinson kept faith with young goalkeeper Nick Harvey, who was preferred to 41-year-old Ryan Clarke for the second game in a row after the former Oxford United promotion winner let in six in a humbling defeat to Plymouth Parkway last month.

Robinson has often said that he has a lot of faith in both goalkeepers, with Harvey never having let Hungerford down when deputising for Clarke, although the Town boss said Clarke would be back in goal this coming weekend.

“Nick deserved his opportunity, he’s been excellent in training and he did really well against Swindon,” he said.

“He was ok at the weekend, I wouldn’t say any of those goals were his fault, but Ryan will be back in goal on Saturday.

“We have a very strong squad, including two very good goalkeepers, and sometimes you’ve got to make use of it.

“No one is un-droppable and sometimes you’ve got to poke a player to get even more out of them; for me to even think of dropping Ryan is a massive credit to Nick, who is a young man and still learning.

“Ryan will start on Saturday and hopefully he can perform like he has done for most of the season.

Hungerford, who are one point outside the play-offs but have played at least a game more than some of the sides around them, will be looking to bounce back with the visit of eighth placed Walton and Hersham. The Swans have celebrated three successive promotions since being taken over by a group of ambitious students in 2019 and beat Town 4-1 in the reverse but have been on an indifferent run of late, taking just five points from the last 24 available.

The Crusaders have lost just once at Bulpit Lane in the league this season and Robinson is confident his side can maintain their impressive home form ahead of the all-important run-in.

He said: “One thing with Hungerford is we’ve always bounced back after defeats.

“Walton gave us a bit of a footballing lesson at their place earlier in the season but we’re a much better team now.

“Home advantage for us is massive. We want to turn it into a game of blood, guts and thunder and we want to make it horrible for any side who visits.

“We’re looking forward to the challenge and, barring Rhys Tyler who is obviously a long term absentee, we’ve got pretty much everyone available.”

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