JC MSFL DIVISION FOUR
Athletic Bilbaum 1 Temple Fortune B 1
A goal from Benjy Aarons-Richardson kept Athletic Bilbaum two points clear at the top but they failed to find their best in front of the JC cameras in Hampstead.
Fortune left the "Bernabaum" with a credible 1-1 draw against the league leaders on a chilly morning. With the pitch frozen on the right side, the match was in severe doubt and the referee continually delayed making a decision on whether to go ahead with it or not.
Finally at 11.15am, he deemed the pitch playable and the match got underway at 11.30am. Fortune suffered an early blow when talisman Terry Jeffries limped off with an ankle injury after just 15 minutes, leaving the 'yellow and reds' without a recognised striker in their side.
Bilbaum edged a tight first half, but were denied by a couple of good saves by Phil Small, while Fortune were restricted to a couple of counter-attacks as the half ended 0-0.
Fortune changed their shape at half time, switching to a 4-4-2 formation and instantly began to cause more problems. They were rewarded for their greater ambition when Dean Ingram's corner found its way directly into the net to give them the lead.
Bilbaum had the chance to level when the referee controversially awarded a penalty despite Adam Field clearly taking the ball, but justice was done when the penalty was blazed over the bar.
Small continued to frustrate the home side with a couple more excellent saves, but was finally beaten by a bullet header from Aarons-Richardson from a corner.
Bilbaum were then given a second soft penalty as Jamie Simpson was somewhat harshly adjudged to have fouled a Bilbaum striker but once again, the chance was missed as this time the penalty clipped the bar and once again went over.
The last 15 minutes was end to end stuff as both teams went for the winner, David Sawyer coming closest to grabbing the three points for Fortune with a couple of headers but a draw was probably the fair result.
Bilbaum joint-manager Mark Pasha told JC Sport: "It was a rusty display from the Baums after a long winter break, but we only have ourselves to blame for not taking all three points.
"Temple Fortune made it tough, as we knew they would, but three missed penalties and some jittery attacking play meant it wasn't to be our day.
"Credit to the team though as they fought back after going behind from a Fortune goal that went in directly from a corner. But even with Baum Baum star jumping vivaciously on the sidelines, there was to be no late drama at the Bernebaum as the Sunday dog walkers (fans) looked on in anticipation."
Fortune assistant-manager Adam Glekin told JC Sport: "I thought it was a really interesting game for the neutral, had a bit of everything!
"There was doubt that the match would even go ahead, then we had the drama with goal nets not arriving, and when it did get under way there were goals, chances and penalties galore.
"It's a shame we couldn't hang on for the win, - every player ran their socks off and Phil Small was excellent in goal. I didn't think either penalty should've been given to be honest, and it would have been a real sickener if they'd cost us the game.
"To be fair to Bilbaum, they played some nice stuff and are certainly one of the best teams in the division, but we've showed with our two draws against them that we're a match for anyone."