Oxenhope Rec 2
Knaresborough Town 2
A battling performance by the nine men of Oxenhope saw them come back to salvage a deserved share of the points in a thrilling West Yorkshire League Premier Division game that had everything.
On a cold afternoon, a good-sized crowd were rewarded with an end to end match, with some good football played on a heavy, tacky pitch.
Knaresborough were quickest out of the blocks and their pacy and lively football had Oxenhope on the back foot with goalkeeper Sam Lee making a fine save and skipper Scott Nelson clearing off the line.
The home side gradually came into the game, Josh Kaine bringing a good save out of the keeper and Craig Morris heading over.
At the other end, stand-in defender Ollie Metcalfe made a superb block when one on one, so at half time it was honours even.
After 50 minutes the deadlock was broken when a shot from the edge of the box hit Will Wells’ hand and the referee pointed to the penalty spot and the kick was converted.
Their lead was short lived. Kaine broke down the right, his cross found Dan Moriarty, he laid the ball into the path of Morris and he hit a scorching shot, which the keeper touched over. It was from Moriarty’s resulting corner that Liam McNicol powerfully headed home at the near post.
After 65 minutes a referee’s decision caused mayhem. Defender Nelson went up for a ball just outside the box and came down on a Knaresborough player, which the referee deemed deliberate and showed him a straight red.
An incensed group of his colleagues surrounded the referee and yellow cards were flashed at several, including McNicol.
The visitors capitalised on the resulting free-kick. Hit hard, the ball took two wicked deflections and spun over the line, despite keeper Lee getting his hand to it.
Worse was to follow as McNicol kept up his complaint over the decision and was shown a second yellow card.
Reduced to nine men, Oxenhope showed their true team spirit as ever single one of them put in a shift, closing down and challenging for every ball.
In the 85th minute, their efforts were deservedly rewarded when man of the match young midfielder Lewis Hopkinson, who had covered every blade of grass, was brought down 25 yards out.
Moriarty stepped up and hit a stunning, unstoppable free-kick into the top corner of the net.
The home side now defended as if their lives depended upon it as Knaresborough threw everything at them but despite being out on their feet, the nine men held out until the final whistle.
Oxenhope: Lee, Nelson, McNicol, Metcalfe, Wells, Hopkinson, Kaine, Quinlan (Walton), Moriarty, Morris (Brady), Marshall (Madden).
Oxenhope Rec 2