Captain’s hat-trick helps battered Tigers to win
Tigers limped off the field of battle with their heads held high, thanks to a dramatic 4-3 victory in the most bruising encounter of the season.
Three home players were helped from the pitch with injuries, goalkeeper Jon Stewart was hospitalised and several finished the game despite carrying knocks.
But crucially they held on despite a late Barwell onslaught to take three points and move up to sixth in the Evo-Stik Premier table.
Before he was hammered with a tackle the referee deemed fair and had to be replaced, Leon Mettam returned to form with a bang, scoring a fine hat-trick in the win.
The game actually started with injury trouble, as Conor Higginson pulled up in the warm up, tried to run it off but lasted just five minutes in the game.
Shaq McKenzie took Higginson’s place, and was desperately unlucky with an early screamer that looked destined for the top corner before a defender got his head in the way.
But Tigers weren’t to be denied on 15 minutes as McKenzie hared away from two defenders and delivered the perfect cross for Tom Denton to stoop and power a header past James Hogarth-Wren.
The lead lasted just four minutes however, as Anthony Griffith skinned a pair of Worksop players and fed Connor Gudger six yards out, the winger with a simple finish.
Worksop were undone down the same side when Mettam gifted Barwell possession, but fortunately Luke Barlone placed his shot wide.
The Worksop skipper made amends on 25 minutes though, drawing a foul from Scott Lower to win yet another penalty, calmly stroking it into the bottom right haned corner.
It should have been 3-1 a minute later, Muldoon swinging in a dangerous cross, Denton connecting and Mettam seeing his touch clawed out by the Barwell keeper.
Jonathan Stewart pulled off a fine save for the home side as he palmed away Jamie Hood’s header, but disaster struck for the stopper on 38 minutes, injuring his foot as he landed after punching the ball away.
After a lengthy delay midfielder Jack Barnett donned some gloves and a keeper jersey and replaced Stewart who was taken to hospital..
Barnett’s first test was a low, trundling effort from the impressive Griffith, stopping it without trouble, and a minute later he got down to beat out Gudger’s drive.
Tigers were caught napping at the start of the second half, Gudger tapping in unmarked at the back post after just 28 seconds.
And two minutes later Barnett was picking the ball out of the net again, Gudger completing his hat-trick direct from a free-kick.
Back came Worksop again, Muldoon racing down the right wing and putting in a beautiful cross for Mettam to slide home the equaliser.
It was 4-3 to the hosts four minutes later as Mettam produced something special.
Salt’s long ball released the Tigers captain who controlled, hurdled the last man and hammered a spectacular half volley into the far top corner.
That was the last contribution Mettam could make to the game, as he went down under a heavy tackle and had to be carried from the field, Aaron Cole making his debut.
Barwell pressed higher and higher up the pitch in search of a point, Worksop content to just pump the bal clear.
Barnett did well to rush out and deny Jamie Hood as the ball broke in the box, the visiting skipper booked for his tackle on the stopper.
With five minutes added on the tension was palpable inside Sandy Lane, the home supporters on the edge of their seats as a corner bobbled around the penalty area, Hogarth-Wren even joining the attack - but Worksop held firm for three important points.
Worksop: Stewart 7 (Barnett 44 7), Pursehouse 7, ROE 8, Adams 6, Quinn 7, Salt 6, Muldoon 8, Clarke 6, Denton 8, Mettam 8 (Cole 69), Higginson 5 (McKenzie 5). Not used: Lemon, Wall.
Barwell: Hogarth-Wren, Lower, Spencer, Hadland, Hood, Edwards, Brehon (Weale 73), Julien (S. Hadland 76) , Barlone (Putman 80), Griffith, Gudger. Not used: Lavery, Castle.
Referee: S. Richardson. Assistants: S. Abbott, P. Dixon.
Goalscorers: Denton 15, Mettam 25 (pen), 54, 58; Gudger 19, 46, 48
Yellows: Denton 87; Spencer 80, Hood 86.