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Poor weather conditions didn’t dampen the spirits during a tense encounter between the top two teams in the A league last season. Despite taking the lead on two occasions, reigning champions Pendle were unable to hold off a resilient County side who struck back in the last 5 minutes to clinch a draw.
Heavy rain and blustering winds clearly affected play from the offset and Pendle goalie Chris James did well to recover from a slip early on. The weather however didn’t stop either team from playing attacking football; County having the first key chance 10 minutes in when attacking midfielder Jordan Gammie poked wide whilst one on one with James. Pendle were quick to reply with Thomas Mawdsley heading just over from a free kick 5 minutes later.
The first half started to cool off after a lively first 15 minutes but was brought to life towards the end, a Pendle attack after 37 minutes saw striker Onraet-Wells through on goal but he was taken down by the onrushing Hartas after knocking the ball around him. Rightly, Pendle were awarded a penalty and it was smoothly placed in the bottom corner by James Carolan for a deserved 1-0 lead, which they preserved until the end of the first half.
County were clearly spurred on after the break, attacking from the whistle and leading to their key creative outlet Jordan Gammie being taken down in the box after turning the Pendle defender. This gave County their own opportunity to score from the spot and up stepped captain Joel Watson to coolly send Pendle’s goalkeeper the wrong way and draw themselves level.
Pendle came close to regaining the lead just five minutes later, when with his first touch after coming on as a substitute, Pendle midfielder Jorge Ferreira powered the ball towards the top right corner from inside the box, only to see his effort rebound off the upright.
Both teams kept the encounter edgy throughout, each having numerous decent chances midway through the second half. With about fifteen minutes of the match remaining, a County corner fell nicely to the feet of Jordan Gammie, who struck the ball just over from ten yards out.
Pendle however, consistently replied to any County pressure, formulating in an excellent opportunity about four minutes later. A skilful pass through the County defence sent Nathan Onreat-Wells into the penalty area where he was seemingly caught by a recovering County defender, only for Pendle’s penalty appeals to be hastily quashed.
This however seemed only to spur the defending champions on, as from a set piece two minutes after the berated decision, Pendle made the scoreline 2-1 in their favour. It was a somewhat scrappy goal in which the ball had been headed off the line and rebounded against the bar in quick succession before falling to the feet of Pendle powerhouse Thomas Mawdsley, who smashed the ball in from close range.
Having scored with just ten minutes remaining many Pendle players would have thought that goal had clinched them victory, but County hadn’t given up their efforts yet.
With just five minutes of the match left, a dubiously given free-kick was given to County around 25 yards out, in what looked a difficult opportunity to take advantage. Nonetheless, County’s star man Gammie beautifully curled the ball through a huge huddle of players into the bottom right corner to equalise in dramatic style. The strike caused a rush of County supporters to flood on to the pitch in elation that a point had been rescued.
Neither team could get another goal before full time in what was a thoroughly entertaining 2-2 draw between the two favourites for the title this season.