MATCH REPORT: Republica 2:2 FC West Leeds

A brace from Mohammed Hamaway earned Republica a point against fellow strugglers FC West Leeds on Sunday but the Reds were left feeling hard done by as a dominant performance somehow ended in a 2-2 draw at Scott Hall Road.

Republica reverted to the 4-1-3-2 formation that had worked well earlier in the season for this match as they looked to bounce back from three successive cup defeats. Josh Moos started in goal; Peter Lines, Liam Moran, Nick Hood, and Jack Smith lined up in defence; Josh Booth was handed the holding role in midfield; Matty Booth, Seamus Lundy, and Matt Joyce were the three attacking midfielders; and Oliver Lines joined Hamaway up front.

The Reds quickly established control in midfield and applied pressure to the West Leeds goal for the opening 15 minutes, earning several set pieces and drawing saves from the opposition goalkeeper. Oliver Lines did well to jink past two defenders only to see his shot smothered by the keeper who was also forced to deal with several efforts from long range. The Blues, meanwhile, could only hoof the ball long which only invited more pressure. It was therefore completely against the run of play when the visitors took the lead. After a free kick was cleared, the ball was sent back in from midfield and West Leeds’ speedy number 10 latched on to the loose ball before finishing with a powerful effort past Moos’ outstretched right hand. A further blow for Republica followed immediately as Lundy was forced from the field with a hamstring injury, leading to an early introduction for Andy Kitching.

Rather than being frustrated by going behind, Republica stuck to their task and continued to dictate the pace of the match, dominating the ball in midfield and sending a series of dangerous crosses into the penalty area that caused several scrambles without reward. A slice of luck led to the equaliser as the West Leeds keeper misjudged a long free kick and ran under the bouncing ball, leaving Hamaway to roll the ball into empty net from all of six yards. A few minutes later, the striker was seemingly pulled down by the goalkeeper in the box but no penalty was forthcoming. Despite the hosts creating more chances, it was still one apiece as the sides went in for half time.

In view of their dominant first half performance, Republica pushed Kitching up front at the start of the second period. However, they couldn’t quite establish the same control in midfield so quickly switched again as Wadah Alhasan was introduced in place of Joyce and Oli Lines moved over to the left as part of a more conventional 4-4-2. A more open to feel to the game quickly translated into more chances for the Reds as Kitching fired over when well placed at the back post and set pieces twice resulted in home players lining up unmarked on the six-yard box but getting in each others way and failing to convert. They even struck the woodwork when Hamaway was released down the left and twisted and turned before seeing his shot tipped onto the bar from a narrow angle. At the other end, all West Leeds could offer was a free kick from distance that was comfortably saved. Rio Goldhammer came on at full back in place of Peter Lines for the final 30 minutes and helped sure up the Reds down the right hand side behind Alhasan.

Just when it seemed that there would be no breakthrough, a good through ball found Hamaway and his low finish finally beat the goalkeeper, rolling just inside the far post. The mercurial forward then whipped off his shirt in celebration to earn himself a needless booking. With only ten minutes to go, it appeared as though the Reds were heading for victory but they were left to rue missed chances when a West Leeds free kick from deep curled perfectly onto the head of an onrushing forward who’s thumping header left Moos with no chance. There was still time for Hamaway to cap an eventful match as he went down in the box and was shocked to see the ref wave play on. The man in black didn’t appreciate the striker’s protests and it appeared he’d be sent off but he got away with a talking to. With the last act of the game, a free kick was sent into the box and the ensuing scramble saw Kitching fire onto the underside of the crossbar from close range but the final whistle blew before the Reds could get to the rebound.

Although they were punished in the end by a mixture of bad luck, poor finishing and a couple of marginal refereeing decisions, Republica could look back on an impressive performance that sat in stark contrast to the defeats of recent weeks. Nick Hood won this week’s man of the match award with another assured performance at centre back.