Temple Fortune held off a late Woodford Wanderers onslaught to move nearer the promotion places in a JC MSFL Division Two clash which saw referee Peter Lavelle- Maurice mired in controversy.
The veteran referee missed what appeared a dangerous challenge on Woodford’s Adam Poole, before sending Poole off minutes later after he confronted him for awarding a penalty.
Always threatening to boil over, the game saw a late scuffle involving about 15 players, most of who were trying to break up a potential fight.
Woodford coach Paul Holmes felt that Lavelle-Maurice “could have handled the game better” while he said the tackle “didn’t look nice. I don’t know why he didn’t do something about it”.
Playing against 10 men for 60 minutes, Fortune looked to have the game wrapped up when they went three goals up in the second period, before Woodford made them sweat for the last 15 minutes after two quick strikes.
Taking full advantage of a swirling wind, Fortune took a seventh minute lead when Matt Gilberry’s long throw was palmed into his own net by Jay Jaffa.
Gilberry, a threat in the opposition area all game, then forced Jaffa to make amends with a brilliant tip over from his looping header.
However, worse was to follow for the goalkeeper after Schindler’s well placed header from a corner was met by Dave Gance in the six-yard box for 2-0.
It was the next 10 minutes that were the most seminal as an extremely hard tackle on Poole went unpunished by the referee, who was about 25 yards away.
Five minutes later, and with just 30 gone, Schindler was pushed in the box, before he blazed over his spot kick dreadfully. In between the award and miss Poole was dismissed for a second booking after remonstrating with Lavelle-Maurice over the decision.
Fortune started the second half started as they had begun the first, after an excellent break down the right from Gance lead to a simple tap in for midfielder Michael Goldberg, to secure what appeared an unassailable lead.
However, instead of capitalising on their numerical advantages both on the scoreboard and the field, Fortune started to get sloppy, especially from corners, much to the irk of their manager.
This proved crucial after an indirect free kick from player-manager Alex Avram went in via the faintest of flicks to pull Woodford back into it with 18 minutes to play.
The impossible started to look on when a half cleared corner fell to Harrison Midda who banged home a second three minutes later.
Woodford, by now enjoying the advantage of playing into an even more forceful wind than they had faced in the first half, kept pressing and effectively forced Schindler, who has recently been employed in a three man middle, to resume his normal centre back duties. His steady stream of headers and tackles helped to see out the win, albeit a shaky one.
Fortune boss Andrew Souber told JC Sport: “We seemed to have lost our energy, which may in part be because we haven’t played in five weeks. Perhaps that’s why we were tired.
"Considering they had 10 men they gave us a huge scare in the second period.”
He added that “the game was too big for the ref".
Fortune: Glekin; Fegan, Natoff, Gilberry, Woolfe (Morris); Gance, Walker, Schindler, Goldberg (Cooper), Fisher ( Benson); Isaacs
Woodford: Jaffa; Schacter (sub: Kay), Levy, Poole, Golding; Gold, Ezekiel, Avram, Pearey; Marks, Midda