Bitton 0 - 3 Hallen
Tuesday 6th February 2018
With the Winter Olympics in South Korea just around the corner Hallen produced a gold medal performance in driving snow at Bitton on Tuesday night to wrap up three well deserved points writes Kerry Miller.
A hat-trick from captain Aaron Anglin sewed up the victory as they followed up their home win over Odd Down with another win on what was a superb playing surface considering the relentless poor weather as they defied the elements to play some excellent passing football which a lethargic Bitton side could not cope with. Bizarrely the win was built around back to back penalties within the space of three minutes either side of half-time, both put away with the minimum of fuss by Anglin, who benefitted from some unselfish and non-stop running from his side, and in particular Sam Skidmore who gave the home defence no end of grief all night.
Bitton were looking to go eighth with what was expected to be a comfortable win while Hallen have given themselves some breathing space above Cadbury Heath, Wells City and Longwell Green Abbotonians at the foot of the Premier Division.
The predicted snow arrived almost on call at the Recreation Ground but referee Andy Sheppard had no dramas to worry about as the pitch was immaculate and Tom Knighton brought a fingertip save from Hallen keeper Lewis Brodie within a minute of the kick-off. It was a false dawn as Hallen very soon got into their stride and Ollie Morris and Anglin both went close before George Binding’s wicked cross caused problems in the back four. Skidmore then got in and the former Ashton and Backwell man was just denied by Ben John in the home goal who repeated the dose minutes later as Hallen dominated. It was not all one way as Bitton slowly got to grips with the conditions and Dean Griffiths hit the post from long range and a Luke Byron corner was headed off the line with Brodie beaten before Reeko Best’s effort was also kept out.
In the end it took a spot-kick with virtually the last kick of the half to break the deadlock as Skidmore was brought down in the box by Tom Bradley and Anglin knocked in the opener to give his side a deserved lead.
With the snow increasing Hallen attacked from the start and when Jack Mills’ cross was punched out, it was returned with interest and a handball shout was rewarded with another penalty, again despatched by Anglin to make it 2-0. For a while the temperatures on the pitch rose as referee Sheppard showed four yellow cards in quick succession but it did not detract from the game which Bitton rarely showed signs of getting back into. Griffiths got on the end of a good move to drive a left footer just over and his long run seconds later almost found Knighton who was crowded out in the six yard box but in truth Hallen were enjoying themselves and skipper Anglin gave up an excellent chance of an earlier hat-trick when he blazed over from ten yards. On another day it might have been a turning point but ten minutes from time his treble arrived as he latched on to a long ball, and although John parried the shot, Anglin nodded the rebound goalwards and it crossed the line before being hacked away to complete and fine performance in less than perfect weather which would have had brass monkeys reaching for the horse liniment.