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By John Hutchinson
, Sports Reporter
Thursday, March 29, 2012
HATFIELD Town were undone by the tricks of an experienced striker as they slumped to a 4-1 defeat against Colney Heath on Tuesday night.
Ian Cooper proved a real thorn in the Hatfield backline as he won, and scored, two penalties - both of which were fiercely contested by The Blueboys outfit.
The match, which was played at the Letchworth County Ground as Hatfield can no longer host games at The Gosling Stadium due to stadium requirements, saw Town reduced to 10 men on 56 minutes when ex-Magpie Sam Hardy was shown a red card for fouling Cooper in the area.
Up until that point it was a well-contested and fairly even encounter, but Heath soon stamped their authority on under-resourced Hatfield to run out as comfortable victors.
Former Stevenage and Barnet footballer Duncan Hardy was in the dugout as he helps out on the coaching front following the sacking of Darryn Stewart.
Dean Parratt went close early on after the Town keeper Sam Lacey fumbled a through-ball when challenged by Cooper and Parratt was quick to respond, but his shot curled just past the upright.
It was Hatfield who took the lead on 20 minutes when David Reade expertly flicked on to centre-forward Daryl Smith and he coolly slotted home to put his side 1-0 up.
Colney gave the ball away straight away at the kick-off and Blackman had his palms stung by a fierce drive by Smith again, only to collect the rebound.
Hatfield bossed most of the first half in fairness, with the ‘visitors’ seemingly reliant on the long ball into the channels for Cooper to run on to.
The first game-changing incident involving the lively Cooper happened four minutes before half-time.
The hitman made a burst into the area, only to be tripped by a stray foot from Steve O’Boy, although the latter will arguably claim Cooper went down far too easily..
Cooper dusted himself down to plant the ball straight down the middle to make the score 1-1.
Buoyed by the equaliser, things got even better for Heath just before the interval.
Kevin Ashwood combined with Cooper and Dickie to set up a chance for ex Welwyn Garden City midfielder Jason Williams, and he calmly sidefooted the ball into an empty net.
Hatfield had a superb chance to level things up just two minutes into the second half, but following some great work out wide from Reade, Ashley Dray planted his header the wrong side of the crossbar.
Just shy of the hour-mark, Cooper latched on to a mistake from Hatfield defender Hardy and broke into the area, only for Hardy to drag him back. The referee had no choice but to issue a red card to the Hatfield man.
Cooper’s penalty was saved by Lacey but the rebound came back to him, and he respondest quickest to make it 3-1.
The win was sealed with 10 minutes to go in bizarre circumstances. Ashwood rushed down a poor clearance and the ball rebounded off him some 30 yards out, and over Lacey into the Hatfield goal for a 4-1 scoreline.
Blackman made a good save with his feet with 12 minutes to go to preserve Colney Heath’s lead after Lee Newman broke clear and fired an effort powerfully at goal.