Chasetown FC let lead slip as they lose at Sheffield FC

Nick Wellecomme opens the scoring. Pic: Dave Birt

Nick Wellecomme opens the scoring. Pic: Dave Birt

Chasetown FC lost out to Sheffield FC in a battle of two mid-table sides with only pride to play for.

To mark the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster, the 341 crowd stood in impeccable silence to pay tribute to the 96 football fans that lost their lives in Sheffield, with the game getting under way at 3.07pm along with hundreds of other games up and down the country.

Chasetown made a superb start and were on the front foot from the off. Jack Lees and Lee Butler in particular were looking lively and forcing a disrupted home defence into some uncomfortable moments.

It was therefore no surprise when the Scholars went ahead in the 17th minute. Joe Halsall received the ball and advanced through a static Sheffield back four and when stand-in goalkeeper Matt Roney – normally a right winger – stayed rooted to his line, Halsall had the simplest job to roll the ball square to Nick Wellecomme who couldn’t miss from inside the six yard box.

Roared on by an enthusiastic home crowd though, the hosts gradually got themselves back into the game and will still wonder now how they didn’t equalise just after the half hour. Ben Algar’s cross from the left was met by a close range header from former Scholar Joel Purkiss and just about everyone expected the net to ripple. But somehow debutant keeper John Bateman pulled off a brilliant point blank save to push the effort away.

Joe Halsall bends a free-kick towards goal. Pic: Dave Birt

Joe Halsall bends a free-kick towards goal. Pic: Dave Birt

Four minutes before the break, the Scholars conceded a free-kick just outside the area and Purkiss’ curling effort brushed the top of the crossbar on its way over.

Two minutes later though, Chasetown weren’t so fortunate. Another free kick, in almost identical territory, and this time Purkiss’ lowered the height of his strike by a few inches to find the top corner of the net.

Sheffield were out of the traps faster in the second half and took the lead within two minutes of the restart. Steve Woolley’s first shot was blocked but he netted at the second attempt.

Chasetown’s best chance to restore parity came with 20 minutes remaining. Substitute Ramone Stephens burst forward down the inside right channel and teed up Jack Farmer, whose low cross along the six yard box was an agonising stud’s length away from a touch from Wellecomme at the near post.

Steve Woolley fires towards goal. Pic: Dave Birt

Steve Woolley fires towards goal. Pic: Dave Birt

The Scholars now have just three league games remaining – Rainworth (home, April 19), Romulus (away, Easter Monday, 1pm) and title-chasing Coalville at home on the final day of the season – before a two-week wait ahead of the Walsall Senior Cup Final at the Banks’s Stadium on May 12.

This defeat dropped Chasetown into 12th in the league, realistically the lowest they can finish, with eighth the highest they could manage.

Sheffield: Roney, Turner, Algar, Stirrup (Gascoigne, 58 mins), Hadfield, Whittaker, Woolley, Pemberton, Powell, Purkiss (Fereday, 67 mins), Gregory (Shirley, 84 mins). Sub not used: Cardwell.
Chasetown: Bateman, Farmer, Beckett (Evans, 77 mins), Johnson, Robinson, Halsall, Butler, Bragoli (Stephens, 58 mins), Wellecomme, Lees (D Smith, 70 mins), Chapman. Subs not used: Teesdale, Pond.

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