Hurst’s first game of 2018 finally took place last weekend, welcoming fellow title challengers Ardingly to Fairfield.
A fully packed squad meant a selection headache for manager Dudley Christensen. Without regulars Blaxall and Maltby available Stuart Ritchie made his return to the front side after a few years absence and Lambert, Martin and Ward made up the front three.
Hurst started on the front foot, testing the Ardingly keeper from close and long range a number of times in the early minutes. The number one in fine form saving all of them convincingly.
Ardingly then had a very strong spell where they dominated possession but only testing Hurst keeper Smith, with any sort danger, twice.
It stayed 0-0 as the half time whistle went. A very ‘January performance’ from both sides.
Ardingly started the second half the better of the two sides but only asking questions of Smith and the Hurst defends through a few errors of their own making.
The deadlock was broken when a long throw from Luke Martin was tapped in by Lambert after a goal mouth scramble.
An unlikely source put the Blue Dogs 2-0 up – Luca D’Alessio working the ball into the box and then passing it off the inside of the post back to himself for another tap in. He has been awarded the goal and assist.
Ardingly quickly responded and got back in the game after a well worked move down the right hand side led to an inch perfect cross for L.Bell to head through the legs of Smith.
Some unsavoury scenes in the dugouts then followed – well managed by the referee, they quickly fizzled out.
But Hurst dug very deep and defended hard like they have a number of times this season, getting 2018 off to the perfect start
Man of the match: Martin Smith