“Cranleigh went into this match on the back of a hard fought draw away to Loxwood with Hurstpierpoint (HPP) currently sitting pretty at the top of league.

Spectators, players and coaches alike didn’t quite know what to expect and in fact this remained true until the last seconds of what turned out to be a pulsating match. The Cranes dominated possession early on and the away side were saved only by ‘Trigger’ running the line with a couple of flags to thwart promising Cranleigh attacks.

Every went closest with a right footed effort at the near post as  Denton and Dabiri put the proverbial tent up at the half way line. With Plank controlling the midfield and their keeper making an early claim for man of the match it was only a matter of time before the home side went one nil up with corner after corner mounting up. Or was it?!

Just before half time a break away goal with a long ball over the top and an uncharacteristic stumble from Dabiri helped by a HPP forward accidentally running into his heels left the other forward with a relatively simple finish to make it 1-0. Cranes went in for their half time team talk in mild shock that they trailed after dominating so much of an entertaining first half in which HPP demonstrated that they were clearly a well drilled and capable side.

HPP started the second half in smart fashion snapping at Cranleigh’s heels as the home side sought to reimpose themselves on the match and seek out a deserved equalizer with an early bout of pressure down the right hand side.  Against the run of play, an innocuous bouncing ball on the half way line led Denton and Lee to crash into each other leaving HPP to gather the ball and play a quick ball through to their lone forward who finished coolly to make it 0-2. Supporters and coaches in shock but with plenty of time to play HPP turned the screw and started to play with increased confidence keeping the ball well and determined not to make things easy for the defending Champions. 10 minutes to go and with Cranes supporters losing hope of a point, Cranleigh created a number of chances but stout defending and a man of the match performance from the visiting keeper kept the score as it was.

Step forward Mitchell  who picking up a loose ball in midfield, took on a man, then shaped to pass but instead carried the ball a further yard or two before unleashing a powerful right footed shot which even their keeper couldn’t get a glove on. 1-2 and suddenly game on! A re-energised Cranes could smell blood and a few minutes of sustained pressure amidst brave defending led to a series of corners with 2 chances falling to Denton who with head nor foot couldn’t squeeze it in but ultimately HPP couldn’t keep out the equaliser and with only a couple of minutes left it was 2-2 courtesy of a neat finish from a tight angle by Tunnell. So a point a piece and all square seemed like a fair end to a great game with a rare HPP attack leading to a bit of timewasting near the Cranleigh corner flag. The Cranes hadn’t read the script though and in the blink of an eye an exchange of 3 passes from front to back saw Plank keep his cool to hold off 2 defenders, scoring the winner with a smart finish in a one on one situation to complete an unlikely rout. leaving their keeper in tears and Coaches Lee and Barter re-writing their end of match team talk… next week County Cup followed by Chesworth away in the League.”

 Match Report by Rob Denton