Newark Town 1-1 AFC Bentley: Blues leave it late to continue unbeaten home record
A last-minute goal ensured the Blues continued their unbeaten home record which stretches back to April 2019.
Nathan Arnold’s Newark Town were minutes away from surrendering their record in the 1-1 draw at home to AFC Bentley, but for Ben Wallace’s equaliser in the first minute of added time.
Arnold was full of praise for his team — and the opposition — despite dropping points for only the second time this season.
He said: “They were the first team to come to Newark and pay us the respect that we deserved.
“Other teams have naively gone toe-to-toe with us, so credit to Bentley and their management team because they set up perfectly, sitting behind the ball and playing on the counter-attack.
“They have only lost two games all season, both respectful defeats against (title challengers) Clay Cross and Thorne so they have been going about their work quietly, and they had a bit of confidence about them as well.”
Nathan Burrows made his first appearance of the season between the posts, replacing the unavailable Harry Haywood with Matty Clarke moving into the middle of defence in place of James Gardner.
The first half was relatively even with defences dominating. The first real chance fell to Bentley on 15 minutes, though Sid Costa got a well-timed block in as Zack King lined up a close-range shot.
Lewis Chambers, who had a frustrating afternoon, retaliated by sending a teasing cross into the box, which was headed over his own bar by Brad Vann.
The visitors took a 36th-minute lead with a well-executed goal, Joe Smith sending a perfect ball for King, who timed his run to perfection to place the ball wide of Burrows and just inside the right hand post.
As play switched to the other end, both Jake Hardy and Jonny Wiles went close in the final minute of the half.
The second half began with Town pushing forward, an early Hardy free-kick going close.
The Town pressure was relentless but the visitors packed the defence well, working overtime to keep the Blues at bay.
A series of chances went begging before Wallace came within a fraction of levelling the scores from his drive from 20 yards, which cannoned off the bar.
Bedford pulled off another superb save to keep out Hardy but as time ran out, the visitors were finally beaten by Wallace’s shot from the edge of the area, which found its way through a congested box to rescue a point for the hosts.
“In the fist half we struggled to adapt to their game plan because we would get to the halfway line and run out of ideas,” said Arnold, reflecting on his side’s performance.
“When we fell behind it was the first time since the first game of the season (against leaders Thorne) so there were question marks about how we would handle it, but to be fair, we were solution-focussed at half-time and the second half was one of our best performances of the season.
“We have to be pleased having played three top-six teams in the last week.
“We are coming away with seven points and we probably would have taken it before a ball was kicked.
“Scoring late on and showing the character not to be beaten is a good sign for me, and it is ten unbeaten in the league now.”
Town now face two away games.
First they travel to Staveley Miners Welfare Reserves at Inkersall Road this Saturday in a 3pm kick-off, before a trip to seventh-placed Harworth Colliery on October 16 (also a 3pm kick-off).