Villains No Match For Rusty Moles

by Andrew Finch

Hanworth Villa 0-1 Molesey

     Joe Pratley-Jones '51

     A goal by Joe Pratley-Jones on his first senior start for the club gave Molesey a narrow 1-0 win at Hanworth Villa in their first competitive fixture for 39 days.

With boss Steve Webb recently speaking of his fondness for dogged and unspectacular wins, he would have been pleased with the character shown by his under-strength side, who were missing the suspended Wester Young, Andy Graves and captain Joe Yeates, the unavailable Moses Spencer, as well as James McShane, who pulled up injured in the warm-up.  Their absence was offset by the welcome return of Matt Nash in goal for his first appearance of the season, as well as a debut for midfielder Paul Gough, a recent signing from Guildford City who looked assured as an emergency centre-half.

In addition to the loss of key personnel, with Villa having played three times since the Moles’ last outing, together with the fact they earned a surprising yet deserved victory at Walton Road back in October, it was the home side who might have been slight favourites going into the game, however on a heavy but perfectly playable pitch it was the Moles who had the better of the first half.

Arnold Tawonezvi was put through on goal inside five minutes but saw his left footed effort saved by Terry Buss, before Dan Lucas saw a 20 yard strike held by Buss, despite bouncing awkwardly in front of him.

Nash could not have asked for an easier 45 minutes on his return to first team action, and the closest the home side came to scoring was a free header from Terry Buss that sailed wide.

Buss was to deny Tawonezvi again with half an hour played, keeping out his header from a Luke Elliott corner, before the same played pulled an effort wide moments after the ref turned down Molesey’s penalty appeal for a possible handball in the box.

There were more vociferous penalty claims five minutes later when Darren Noad hacked Ackerman down in the box, and the last action of the half saw Farid Ebrahim-Zadeh saw a dipping effort from 25 yards well tipped over by Buss.

The winner came five minutes after the restart.  Tawonezvi held the ball up well before teeing up Dan Coombes, who drifted a cross to the far post.  There looked to be little danger for the home side, but Pratley-Joness – one of the smallest players on the pitch and unlikely to have started had McShane not pulled up injured – leapt above Tony Buss and looped a header over Buss’s sibling in goal.

Ebrahim-Zadeh nearly doubled Molesey’s advantage two minutes later when he beat the onrushing Terry Buss to a deep cross from the excellent Luke Elliott, but flicked his header just wide.

The Moles sat back on their lead for the remainder of the match and Nash had to be at his best to tip two efforts from substitute Steve Loveridge around the post late on, whilst Moles hearts were in mouths when Elliott appeared to bring down an opponent in the box when the last man, but much to the Moles’ relief the ref waved play on.

Despite some nervy moments during the remainder of normal time plus ten additional minutes, the Moles held out for a deserved victory.

With just one goal conceded in the past five league games and an undefeated league run that now goes back nearly 3 months (although admittedly only lasting seven games), the Moles will hope to continue their pre-Christmas run with a midweek trip to Ash United, whose return to league action after the big freeze has resulted in two defeats and nine goals conceded.


Line-up:  Matt Nash, Dan Lucas, Luke Elliott, Paul Gough, Rob Lewis [C], Dan Coombes, Fari Ebrahim-Zadeh (Eddie Koboah 90+4), Sam Lampard, Arnold Tawonezvi, Lewis Ackerman (Enrico Grimm 79), Joe Pratley-Jones (Mickey Hughes 71).  Subs (Not Used) Ross Defoe