Robinson refuses to be disappointed with a draw as Crusaders maintain unbeaten home record in Hanwell thriller
Hungerford Town boss Danny Robinson refused to be too disappointed after his side twice let a lead slip in a pulsating 2-2 draw with Hanwell Town this afternoon.
The Crusaders, who remain unbeaten at home this season, led through spectacular strikes – first from Elis Watts and then Conor McDonagh – but were pegged back on two separate occasions by in-form Sam Evans, who rescued a point for the visitors when he poked home a leveller in the first minute of seven added.
"I didn't think there was much between the sides," Robinson said.
"I must admit, at half time I felt that we needed a second goal, especially with what happened with Clarkey (Ryan Clarke). It didn't come, and Hanwell are a good side. They came here with a game plan, they were threatening from set-pieces and they've got a young lad in Sam Evans who is flying at the minute.
"I'm proud of the performance. It's just a bit gutting that we didn't see it out. It's a tough one to take, because it is two points dropped, but it's also another game unbeaten at home so we keep moving forward.
"I'll take a point and I'll be a happy man in the morning."
Goalkeeper Ryan Clarke played more than an hour effectively on one leg after he injured his right knee in a collision with Sam Evans. With only five substitutes allowed at this level and no back-up goalkeeper on the bench, Clarke was forced to limp through the remainder of the afternoon. Despite being unable to take goal-kicks – and at times hardly able to stand – the 41-year-old continued to come for crosses and Robinson was full of praise for the veteran's courageous display.
He said: "That's the character of the man, he's an absolute legend. He didn't want to come off.
"He can barely move now, so we're going to have to see how he is ahead of Tuesday night.
"By and large, he didn't have a save to make. It was just a set-piece, which we know that they're good at and a penalty, which was a silly penalty for Jack (Wright) to give away, because I thought he was absolutely magnificent."
Town probably shaded the first half but struggled to contend with goalscorer Sam Evans and winger Sam Oguntayo after the break, with Oguntayo in particular causing problems in the quarter of an hour following the restart. The Crusaders changed their shape slightly to provide support for Conor McDonagh, who was ploughing a lone furrow prior to his stunning goal 15 minutes from time, but Robinson admitted the more open and flowing second half didn't entirely suit his side.
"We made a change tactically because we wanted to try and protect Clarkey and, with the formation we play, if we get sucked into the bottom of the hill Conor can be isolated," he said.
"We put two up top so that when we need to go a little bit longer, we've got two people to go and fight for the ball. It worked, but at the end of the day this league's a tough league and I thought Hanwell did well in the second half and made things difficult for us.
"This league's such a tough league, and this is just another reminder of that."
Goalscorers Elis Watts and Conor McDonagh will each be making their case to win the goal of the month award tonight after the in-form attackers both scored long range efforts. As so often this term, Robinson was delighted with the two forward players.
He said: "They get plaudits galore, and rightly so. I think sometimes their work rate goes a bit unnoticed, although it doesn't by me and my staff. Conor's work rate is phenomenal and Elis is doing a lot more off the ball now.
With them in the team, we know we've always got a chance. They're two fantastic players and we're blessed to have them at this football club."
Hungerford welcome Winchester City, who made it back-to-back away wins with a 2-1 victory at Beaconsfield this afternoon, to Bulpit Lane on Tuesday night. Town hammered the Citizens 5-3 in the FA Trophy last month but Robinson is expecting a stern test from his former side.
"I'm looking forward to that, especially being an old team of mine," he said.
"It's the first time I've managed against them at home. Once again, they're a competitive side, they're full of energy, which isn't really what we want after a bit of a war today. But we're in-form and unbeaten here at Bulpit Lane, so we can be confident."