Football: Oakham United share points in controversial clash with Netherton United

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The two benches raced on to the pitch to separate players at the end of an entertaining and controversial draw between Oakham United and Netherton United on Saturday.

Oakham had taken the lead twice against the Peterborough and District league leaders at Catmose College but a disputed goal and two red cards changed the nature of the contest in the final minutes.

Oakham remain adamant that Netherton’s 86th minute leveller did not cross the line and although referee Mark Spelling claimed he saw the whole of the ball cross the line, the linesman disagreed and the referee was not in a position to see clearly.

As United’s players protested Jamie Forbes received his second yellow card of the game – the first came after conceding a penalty for Netherton’s first equaliser – and skipper Eddie McDonald, who had enjoyed an excellent game until then, received a straight red for his advice to the referee.

Joint manager at Oakham, Andy Saddington said: “We are gutted with the result. I think we deserved all the three points.

“At the end the ref gave a goal that did not look like it had crossed the line.”

On the red cards Saddington added: “I think it’s harsh. He should have taken into account the situation.”

If the manner of the second equaliser was harsh, a draw was perhaps a fair reflection of the game with both sides enjoying good periods of pressure.

Netherton came close with a long range drive that just cleared Oakham’s bar before the hosts broke the deadlock. On 24 minutes, Nathan Arkle curled an exquisite shot from the edge of the box into the top corner.

Robbie Dance was brought down in the box soon after but the referee turned down Oakham’s penalty appeal.

As half-time approached Netherton put the Oakham goal under greater pressure but after the break, Oakham came out strongly and McDonald, Arkle and substitute Alex Brockbank all had chances to extend Oakham’s lead.

However Oakham were caught on the break midway through the half and Forbes’ desperate late tackle conceded a spot kick from which the visitors levelled.

Within five minutes Oakham were back in front. Brockbank turned in the box to score from close range, turning in Craig Ward’s long throw for his first goal since joining from Bourne.

Oakham looked like they would hold on when a superb strike from Netherton’s left back crashed off the bar but that led to a goalmouth scramble and the controversial equaliser.

Brockbank then appeared to be brought down in the Netherton box and after an ugly tackle in the centre circle sparked a confrontation between players, the referee, who had lost control, called an end to an enthralling 90 minutes.

Oakham remain five points behind the leaders, but dropped to third behind Moulton Harrox, who won 4-3 at Peterborough Sports.

Oakham: Shane Hicks, Craig Ward, Jamie Forbes, Tom Bain, Ben Cox (Sam Munton), Jmes Twose, Eddie McDonald, Robbie Dance, Craig Welbourne, Natan Arkle, Will Lee (Alex Brockbank).

Match sponsor: C&M Tractors, Ball Sponsor: Ian Bryers.