Late Plant double secures unlikely win for Shirebrook

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Shirebrook Town hit two goals in the last two minutes to snatch a 3-2 victory away to a Hallam side rooted at the bottom of the Northern Counties East League Division One without a single point.

But they twice had to come from behind against 10 men, and all had looked lost when Hallam went 2-1 up against all the odds with just seven minutes to play.

Matt Plant was then the Shirebrook hero as he netted twice in as many minutes before the whistle to turn the game on its head and sit sixth in the table.

Hallam went into this game on the world’s oldest ground at Sandygate under new manager Ryan Hindley for the first time.

Shirebrook found themselves having to play up the steep slope in the first half with Hallam players starting off like they had points to prove to their new boss as they tackled the visitors from the off.

On 15 minutes we saw the first of the five goals, going the way of Hallam in the shape of Simon Mirfin.

The ball was played down the slope and found Mirfin just outside the left hand side of the Shirebrook box, and his firmly-hit strike flew into the far right of the goal.

But Shirebrook were level within five minutes. The visitors patiently worked the ball up the slope on the left and found Kieron Watson in space on the edge of the box, with only the keeper to beat. Hallam’s Park had other ideas as he tapped Watson’s foot, causing him to fall and earning a red card.

Watson then stepped up to hit the ball right-footed into the Hallam net beyond the outstretched arm of their keeper.

To Hallam’s credit, the 10 men made sure Shirebrook were not going to settle into their passing game after the break as some of their tackles resulted in yellow cards.

There were few chances, Shirebrook restricted to shooting from outside the box.

The only plus really was Shirebrook’s Plant being in the right place with his head or boot to clear anything coming his way.

However, in the 83rd minute, disaster struck. Hallam had played the ball up the left wing to just near the box, and up popped Daniel Flynn to fire the home side into a shock lead.

Some months ago this would have been the end of Shirebrook as they would have let their heads go down.

To Hallam players, management and supporters it appeared that they had got their first three points on the board already judging by the celebrations.

But, as all football supporters will tell you, it is never over until the Fat Lady has sung, and at this time she was still in the dressing room warming up her vocal cords.

Whether this air of celebration got to Shirebrook, only the players can say, but they came to life with gusto.

Wave after wave of Shirebrook attacks on the Hallam goal came and went with the clock ticking slowly away.

Then came the game’s pivotal moment on 86 minutes. A 50-50 ball chased by Plant and Hallam’s keeper, saw Plant crunch heavily with the keeper, sparking a melee involving players of both sides.

After it all died down, the referee called both players over and gave them both a yellow card for their troubles, much to the dissatisfaction of the home crowd, who wanted Plant shown a red.

Plant then applied more salt to the wounds in the 89th minute. Yet another corner came Shirebrook’s way, but unlike the others this found Plant in the goalmouth where he rose to thump a header into Hallam’s goal.

Shirebrook were not finished yet as straight from the restart they seized the ball to launch a last ditch attack on the Hallam goal.

They forced another corner which, launched into the box, saw the ball bobbling around like an old wooden top before it came to Plant, who hit it straight into the net before running off towards the centre circle where he was jumped on by all the team in celebration.

Shirebrook knew that they had played their ‘Get out of Jail card’ and the three points were going back down to Derbyshire.

Supporters felt that after all the bad luck at the start of the season, their luck was balancing out at last.

It might not have been Shirebrook at their very best, but they drew on their reserves to silence the home crowd and won ugly

Shirebrook now look forward to the visit of neighbours Teversal at Langwith Road on Saturday (3pm).