Goalscoring goalkeeper Lewis Naylor helped Dronfield Town to a 2-2 draw with Rossington Main on my first ever visit to Stonelow.
Home debutant Tom Fairweather also got on the score-sheet, levelling with a header twelve minutes after Liam Cooper had put the visitors in front.
The hosts then moved ahead with 15 minutes to play, goalkeeper Naylor converting from the spot after a soft penalty decision. The lead lasted just two minutes however, before Marcel Chipamaunga poked home to set up a dramatic conclusion.
Located less than five miles from my home, Dronfield Town had been on my radar for a while as the most local team I had yet to visit and I finally decided to head to Stonelow to attend their fixture against Rossington Main this afternoon.
The Derbyshire club’s roots can be traced as far back as the 1860’s, but the current version was founded in 1998 and after some successful years in the Central Midlands League, they made the step up to the North Counties East League for the 2013-14 season.
Life at step ten has been tough and last season proved notably disappointing – Dronfield picking up just nine wins in 42 games and finishing 19th. However, the new campaign has seen an improvement and they sat firmly in mid-table ahead of this Saturday contest with Doncaster-based Rossington Main.
The visit of Rossington, who found themselves on a miserable run of seven consecutive league defeats, appeared a good chance for Dronfield to pick up an all-important three points. But the form-book was thrown out of the window as the visitors took the lead in the 23rd minute – Cooper calmly lifting the ball over the on-rushing goalkeeper after being set up by a neat Ben Hunter pass.
It was clear that a goal had been coming, although it could have gone either way as a fast start to the afternoon saw both sides create plenty but lack the clinical finish required to find the net.
The hosts searched desperately for a way back into the game, not wanting to be on the wrong end of Rossington’s first league victory since mid-August, and they looked certain to level around the half hour mark. Lee Anthony set Sam Bebbington up perfectly, but the forward somehow failed to hit the target when the finish appeared simple.
Twelve minutes after falling behind however, Dronfield were level. Making his debut for the club, Fairweather rose highest to meet Danny Hoyland’s free kick and flicked the ball over goalkeeper Simon Dye.
Rejuvenated by the equaliser, the home side began the second period dominantly. Jamie Willis proved particularly threatening, smashing the post from close range early in the half before firing a strike just inches over the crossbar moments later.
Bebbington then wasted a second golden opportunity of the afternoon, firing a rebound effort over the crossbar after Anthony had forced Dye to palm away his powerful original strike.
The visitors continued to have their moments however, and forced a tremendous duo of saves from Naylor – who blocked Chipamaunga’s angled strike before making an agile save from the resulting corner.
Naylor then made himself a hero at both ends as he gave Dronfield a 77th-minute lead from the spot.
It was a dubious penalty decision from the officials as ‘keeper Dye, who furiously protested his innocence, appeared to take the ball when bringing down Anthony in the area. But the referee’s mind was made up and, oddly, it was the home shot-stopper who fired an unstoppable strike straight down the middle.
However, spurred on by the perceived injustice, Rossington got themselves level just two minutes later. Lee Holmes’ effort was blocked but landed perfectly to the feet of joint-top scorer Chipamaunga, who poked the ball underneath the Dronfield goalkeeper to make it 2-2.
The equaliser set up a thrilling conclusion and, as the four minutes of additional time were announced, both teams went hell-for-leather hoping to find a vital winning goal.
Dronfield’s Willis thought for a moment that he had won it when his strike took a huge deflection, leaving the goalkeeper helpless, but the ball rolled just wide of the post and the two sides shared the spoils on an entertaining afternoon at Stonelow.
Dronfield Town (2)
Line-up: Naylor, Morley, Butler, Willis, Hague, Darlow, Dickinson, Fairweather, Bebbington (Akhaven-Hezavem), Hoyland (Gray), Anthony
Unused Subs: Wilson, Savage, Gouueia
Scorers: Fairweather ’35, Naylor (pen) ’77
Rossington Main (2)
Line-up: Dye, Blunt, Billam, Wiffen (Coburn), Woodhall, Hardman (Chipamaunga), Bradley, Stokes, Holmes, Hunter, Cooper
Unused subs: Farrar, Harte, Leese
Scorers: Cooper ’23, Chipamaunga ’79
Referee: Ashley Guest
Date: 17th October 2015
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