St Martins FC can count themselves very lucky indeed.
Lucky that they turned up to Park Road on this particular Saturday in November 2018, a day where we decided that we were going to do everything right but then squander gilt-edged chances in front of goal.
To wit, on 24 minutes when Ben Brooks squared for an unmarked Nathan Ntalu to surely sidefoot it home and give us the lead and then Ben himself on 79 minutes when he latched onto a lovely through ball from Matt German, opted to round the keeper but then could only plough his effort into the side netting.
Other opportunities arose (for those we are giving the visiting keeper deserved plaudits) but those two chances would have obviously been enough for a deserved win that would have put us on a firmer foot for a tough-looking month ahead.
A very bright start from us was almost rewarded with our first attack in the opening minute: Ben Brooks working well down the right to cut in and unleash a powerful drive that the keeper somehow managed to get an equally powerful hand to and push around the post.
Nathan’s miss midway through the half was sandwiched by a couple of decent half-chances for the visitors.
A break down the right resulted in the cross being stabbed just wide and then Danny Whiting had to be quick to bundle a chested effort around the post.
Chris Sherrington came on for Ryan Rogers at the start of the second half and was immediately in the thick of things, shooting just wide after Conor Naughton had put him in.
Another great stop from the visiting keeper came on the 56th minute as he was equal to Nathan Ntalu’s effort after he had raced clear down the right.
That seemed to herald a period where the match got really stretched, both sides making unforced errors and half-chances for both sides, the best of which for us came on 69 minutes when Rhys Clooney sent a looping header inches wide of the post.
Straight down the other end St Martins took the lead with a quick attack down the right, Brendon Price netting from the angle.
Try as we might it just wouldn’t go in over that last 20 minutes, not least for Ben Brook’s glaring miss but also for his effort on 86 minutes where he was thwarted by a combined defender/keeper wall and then for Chris Sherrington in injury time who had the ball invitingly within his reach but just couldn’t get it to sit down in time.
Frustrating to say the least.
We’ll try our luck back on the road next Saturday at high-flying Wythenshawe Amateurs.
TEAM: Whiting, Neild, Wallis, German, Hatfield-Banton, Dunn, Rogers (Sherrington), Christopher, Ntalu (Clooney), Naughton, Brooks. SUBS: Todd, Hincks, Sherrington, Clooney, Lilley (gk)