11:00AM, Friday 26 February 2021
A Berkshire derby at Hungerford played four years ago this week ended in a controversial draw which involved a missed penalty and two red cards, with both managers furious after the match, writes Neil Maskell.
The Vanarama National League South match promised to be a tight and edgy encounter given that the Magpies sat top of the table but with Ebbsfleet chipping away at their advantage whilst the Crusaders – having won seven of their last eight home games - were just four points shy of a play-off place.
On a windy and rainy day at a packed out Bulpitt Lane, the usually sleepy West Berkshire town was invaded by a noisy travelling support from the Royal Borough who made up at least half of the Crusaders largest gate of the season.
It was the visiting fans who were first to erupt as early as the third minute when Harry Pritchard cut in from the left wing and curled a delightful right footed shot into the top corner.
The hosts dug in and were level by the hour mark. A high ball was bundled past Carl Pentney by substitute Nat Jarvis with more than a hint of a foul on the goalkeeper.
With fifteen minutes to play, an apparent shirt-pull in the box pitted top-scorer Dave Tarpey against Hungerford’s on loan Reading goalkeeper George Legg from the spot – the ‘keeper coming out the winner to cap a virtuoso performance.
There was still time for Crusaders boss Bobby Wilkinson – who post-match called his opposite number Alan Devonshire “disrespectful” – to be dismissed from the touchline.
Magpies substitute Jordan Cox was also red carded deep into injury time.
Devonshire was angry with the match officials after the game but Maidenhead would only drop a further five points from their remaining twelve fixtures as the league title was taken on the final day.
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