After four successive wins, Paget travelled to Ashby Ivanhoe on Saturday to take on a side who are again expected to be near the top of the table. Last season Ashby were among the league’s highest scorers and are formidable opposition on their own patch.
With Donald Egbon returning to the centre of the defence, Delcio Neto returning after injury and Resharn Donegal brought in to bolster the midfield, the only other change saw Sczhem Whyte-Hall earn a place in the starting line up after impressive goal scoring displays in the previous two matches.
As soon as the game kicked off Ashby showed their intent to make the game a battle and try to disrupt Paget’s normal free flowing football. With the referee showing leniency when judging some of the tackles that were flying in, the game turned into a bruising encounter. Ryan Butler in particular appeared singled out for some particularly heavy treatment, that eventually saw him withdrawn in the second half.
To their enormous credit Paget stuck to their task and mixed fire with fire, determined not to give an inch in the physical battle.
Whilst goalmouth action was at a premium throughout the game, Paget hung in there and few in the crowd could begrudge the Bears a point as the final whistle blew.
Final Score 0-0
After the game Joint Manager James Parker appeared delighted with his team and a hard earned point “make no mistake, not many teams are going to come here and take points. Ashby have proven over a number of seasons that they are a very strong side. I have no doubt that this is a game we would have lost last season. I think the players were superb in standing up to the challenge and I’m delighted to take a point from a team who are clearly going to be near the top end of the league come the end of the season.”
With no time to rest it was off to Hinckley on Monday evening. Given the exertions of the game on Saturday, Management duo Smith and Parker rang the changes, to try and freshen the side up.
The game was barely minutes old when Hinckley were awarded a penalty. Jevani Robinson adjudged to have brought down the Hinckley forward as he shot, which seemed a very harsh decision. Even some of the home supporters expressing their surprise at the award of a spot kick.
Up stepped Hinckley’s James Reid with a thunderous shot to keeper Tommy Doyle’s right, however, the Paget man with great agility sprung to his right to turn the ball wide. Such has been Doyle’s imperious form so far this season that one supporter in the crowd suggested the only surprise was that Doyle had not caught the ball with one hand!
Hinckley were having the better of the game though and Paget were working hard at the back to repel them. Harry Parker in particular, returned to the starting eleven, was winning everything in the air.
Paget were not without hope though and broke a number of times on the counter attack without unfortunately being able to find the right ball or take the right option.
Half Time 0-0
The second half couldn’t have got off to a worse start for Paget. Having conceded a free kick out on their left flank, an inviting cross was sent in and Hinckley’s Joe McNulty, who was unmarked, swept the ball into the net with aplomb.
Minutes later Hinckley goalkeeper Bache, launched the ball forward and as the Paget defence failed to deal with the kick, Hinckley’s Reid nipped in to atone for his earlier penalty miss to loft the ball into the net, leaving Doyle helpless.
Paget certainly didn’t give up hope of saving something from the game and battled to the last, Leslie Omorodion bursting through onto a superb defence splitting pass and being unceremoniously taken out by the keeper, fortunately forgot goalkeeper Bache, a Hinckley defender had just nipped in to take the ball away from the Paget man, otherwise he would surely not have escaped with just the yellow card he received. Minutes later a good long range effort from Fahme Ibrahim was saved by Hinckley keeper Bache just under his crossbar.
In the dying minutes a speculative shot from just outside the box was blocked by a Hinckley defender, with his hand, according to the referee, and up stepped top scorer Harry Jackson to calmly slot the ball home for his 6th goal of the campaign. Sadly this was to conclude the action on the evening and so Paget tasted defeat for the first time this season.
Final Score – Hinckley 2 Paget 1
Joint Manager Kevin Smith was in philosophical mood at the final whistle “we had to make changes after the effort the lads put in on Saturday and let’s not forget Hinckley had not played, so they came into the game fresh. On the night things didn’t really go our way but the game has gone now and for me it is now a matter of how we react to the defeat. We have the perfect opportunity when we come back here again for the FA Vase match.”