Hyde Park Rovers won a scrappy game which came to life in the final 15 minutes thanks to braces from David Cohen and Oli Grant
Player-manager Philip Braham was pleased that his team were able to recover so quickly after falling behind to a strike from Rafi Bloom.
“It was a strong comeback from 1-0 down to start the year off on a good note. But it was a messy encounter, not helped by the terrible windy conditions.”
Hyde Park should have been in front early on but missed two excellent chances in the opening minutes of the contest, with Cohen guilty of profligacy in front of goal.
Having missed the chance to go in front, Sporting came back into the contest and Jared Cohen missed a chance to put them in front when he missed a good chance at the back post following a corner.
An even contest with chances going to both teams would have been even better had it not been for some questionable refereeing which slowed the game down and prevented it really coming to life. With the game still goalless both sides had chances again in the second half, with Sporting coming agonisingly close in particular when Adam Schwinger and then Danny Jacobs both put good chances over the bar from close range.
Sporting finally took the lead with 15 minutes left as Akiva Lieberman’s long goal kick found Uri Steinberg, who played in Danny Jacobs. Jacobs then crossed for Bloom, who produced skill and intelligent footwork to evade two challenges on the edge of the six-yard box and fire the ball into the net.
The game sprang into life after the goal, and five minutes later Hyde Park levelled the score in controversial circumstances as they had a player brought down inside the area. Grant duly stepped up to convert the spot kick.
Hyde Park forged ahead minutes later, and again Sporting were up in arms, believing Cohen to be offside as he ran onto a through ball to slot home.
Having produced a stirring turnaround so quickly, Hyde Park then scored a third moments later as Grant outpaced the Sporting defence to fire home before yet another controversial decision went in the visitors’ favour in the final moments.
Hyde Park won another penalty after a late challenge in the area, but the Sporting defender seemed to have won the ball. Cohen stepped up to fire the penalty home.
Sporting had reason to be unhappy with the refereeing at the final whistle, and manager Gavin Sharpe had claimed that the defeat was harsh.
“It was a good game and a credit to the league, but I think the referee was awful for both teams. I felt both teams deserved a point, the scoreline did not reflect the quality of the game or how well both sides played.”
Whilst Sporting’s excellent run was brought to an end in controversial circumstances, credit has to go a clinical Hyde Park performance as they produced an impressive comeback so late on as they head into their crucial double header with Republic of Mancunia, who remain two points ahead of them after the weekend results.