THURLOW NUNN LEAGUE FIRST DIVISION: Cornard United 2 Dereham Town Reserves 3
Mark Hoskin insists he will not sacrifice Cornard United’s footballing beliefs for the chance to taste an elusive victory.
The Ards’ nightmare run of results, something the cash-strapped club has become used to in recent years, continued on Saturday as a worrying pattern of profligacy once again cost them at least a point.
Both sides had 14 efforts at goal, but Dereham Town Reserves just about made more of their chances, twice taking the lead between Ben Turner strikes, before Nic Hook completed his hat-trick in the 79th minute to break Cornard hearts.
It left the dejected hosts to reflect on a sixth straight defeat, one in which they had been tantalisingly close to their first point since November 23rd’s 2-1 home win over Debenham LC.
“We said right at the beginning of the season we were going to play football; we wouldn’t go long,” said manager Mark Hoskin, who is sweating on whether they will make it to the end of the season, such is the uncertainty surrounding them continuing to play at the parish council-owned Blackhouse Lane once the lease goes out to tender.
“It was going to be ‘total football’ and we stick to that philosophy.
“We play at a pressured level, but we are dealing with kids and the bottom line is you have got to be doing the right things; you can’t be teaching them the wrong things. You have to stick to your beliefs.
“Steve (Chester, assitant manager) has run the under-18s for quite a while and his philosophy has always been ‘total football’, which is mine.
“Your best sides are the teams who play football and can knock the ball about.”
But can they persist with a short passing game on glue-pot pitches in the depths of winter?
“We had Cambridge United under-18s here (CRC) and the pitch wasn’t that great and their touch and passing was bang on, so you can do it,” said Hoskin.
After a bright opening when they took the game to the visitors, the hard-luck story which has refused to release its grip on a young side — eight of Saturday’s 11 were under 20 — in recent weeks, with three of their last four losses by single goals, began to play out once again.
After Steve Willis and Max Hawkins went close, Dereham opened the scoring from their first effort on target 16 minutes in, when Hook raced through on to a long ball and slid it under the advancing Tim Jefferies.
A flurry of chances were then exchanged, and passed up, including Turner hacking off the line at one end and Willis missing two sitters at the other, before Cornard finally got a deserved equaliser.
Brazilian Antonny Cordeliro swung a lovely ball over from the right and Willis flicked on superbly for Turner to apply a simple finish eight minutes before the break.
But the home side had the wind knocked out of their sails in stoppage time when Hook prodded home in a crowded box after the defence had failed to clear.
Finishing had seemingly deserted both sides after play resumed, as Dereham’s Sam Pledger and Connor Charlsworth both somehow steered free headers off target, while Cornard’s Willis had his head in his hands after dragging wide when well placed.
With 71 minutes on the clock, Turner was left to show them how it was done again, rolling into the net for 2-2 after Willis’ chipped effort had rebounded off the crossbar.
But after the exuberant celebrations died down, it only took another eight minutes for the visitors to steer their way back on the road to victory, with Hook completing his hat-trick from close range.
Hawkins sent a free-kick into the goalkeeper’s grateful arms, but it was as close as sorry Cornard got in an all-too- familiar denouement.
“I thought we played absolutely brilliant and played some great football,” said Hoskin. “The problem we get at this level is that teams are putting their chances away.
“We’re creating them and we aren’t putting them away and it’s costing us.”
Cornard: Jefferies, Chester, Laird, Dowding(c), Sheffield, Hawkins, Turner, Chesney, Cordeliro (Newlove 82), Willis, Beckett (Dix 65). Unused subs: L Smith, Davis, K Smith.