Aveley 2, Potters Bar 2
MILLERS survived a second half blitz from promotion-chasing Potters Bar to earn a Bostik North point in an action-packed and latterly fractious clash at Parkside on Monday evening.
Two superb goals from Aveley were the highlights of the first half but after the hosts missed a penalty soon after the resumption Bar dominated the game which might well have seen several players sent off but a lenient referee instead chose to dish out six second half yellow cards and turn a blind eye to several unseemly clashes.
The game started brightly for Aveley but they found themselves behind after eight minutes when a defensive mix-up involving keeper Rhys Madden allowed Sandro Costa Dias Fernandes to nip in and score.
It took just nine minutes for Millers to get on level terms through a superb free kick from distance from George Doyle after Alex Teniola had been fouled.
Madden then produced two fine saves, tipping over Fernandes’ shot then denying Michael Murray.
The hosts took the lead just after the half hour when Lewis Gard picked up a loose ball, weaved past two players and smashed it into the goal.
Bar might have been level by the break but the woodwork came to Millers’ rescue then a premature whistle by the referee, who chose to stop play and book Freddie Grad for a foul on Fernandes even though Eoin Casey was through on goal and an advantage seemed the best call.
The second half saw Bar snatch the early initiative and it seemed Millers were on the back foot but they showed pace on the counter attack and an Adam Topley effort was pushed away by Berkley Laurencin. Seven minutes in another quick break saw Freddie Gard burst through from the right and as he drove into the box he was felled by Laurencin’s mistimed challenge. Gard picked himself up to take the subsequent penalty, but hit it weakly and the keeper made a comfortable save.
From then on the game was largely played out at the other end where Bar produced long and sustained periods of pressure during which Madden earned his keep with several fine saves.
Aveley were rattled and a series of niggling fouls saw a flurry of what ultimately proved to be five more yellow cards for the home side.
On 65 minutes Aveley had an escape when a superb move orchestrated by Murray, whose skill on the ball and reading of the game belied his bulk, ended with Lee O’Leary driving the ball against the bar.
The equaliser duly arrived on 72 minutes when Madden got down to save a close range shot but his parry was weak and Sean Grace somehow found space from an acute angle to lift the ball into the net.
Bar continued to press but Aveley’s goal stayed intact and the game became even more fractious, with several unseemly confrontations that really should have seen red cards dished out for a head butt and a kick by Bar players – though Aveley were by no means innocent of unruly behaviour.
And right at the death Aveley had a chance to grab a winner when sub Tony Martin bore down on goal but he delayed his strike and opted instead to take a tumble, which earned him only a caution for simulation.
Time was played out with a final two bookings, including Bar’s only one of the game for Billy Adcock, and in the end honour, if not disciplinary points, was shared in equal measure.