HARTLEY Wintney returned to a mid-table position following a hard fought 2-1 win at Walton Casuals.

With Adam Desbois still unfit, Hartley gave a debut to young keeper Sam Mason.

The first action of note came on six minutes and a goal to the Row.

A strong challenge between Dan Stewart of the Row and Casuals captain Joe Hicks saw the ball break in favour of Hartley.

Stewart and Mitchell Parker combined well and the latter created space for a shot which found the corner of the net.

Celebrations were short and muted as it soon became apparent that Hicks was badly injured lying on the ground.

There was a four-minute delay as the stricken defender was carried off on a stretcher with a suspected broken leg. There was sympathetic applause from all round the ground.

The Casuals had a chance from a free-kick on 17 minutes some 25 yards from goal.

Jack Battie (aka the Walton’s Beckham) fired wide of goal. The home side probed and intelligent running behind the Hartley defence gave James Ewington a chance on 22 minutes as he latched on to a long pass.

The striker brought out a smart save from Sam Mason.

A similar run on 34 minutes enabled the striker to have a similar chance.

Ewington fired a well struck shot which Sam Mason managed to push onto the post and out for a corner.

In added time Cole Brown got into a dangerous position on the left and his driven cross was well cut out by Mason, as Hartley led 1-0 at half-time.

Due to a number of stoppages the game did not flow as well as expected.

On 53 minutes a free-kick on the left from Battie saw a good parry by Mason to clear the ball out of danger.

The Row started to gain a foothold in midfield and on 59 minutes Jack French fed Salhin Abubakkar who cut in a saw his shot saved by a well positioned Denzel Gerrar in the Walton goal.

The home side should have pulled at least level with two very good chances within a minute of each other.

On 63 minutes, Lartey Sarpong played in James Ewington for a one on one with Mason.

The striker shot past Mason but narrowly past the post.

It was take two a minute later with Ewington running through in an identical position. The striker’s shot followed the same path as the previous one.

Almost immediately on 64 minutes the misses came back to haunt the Casuals.

A fluent Row move saw the ball moved leftward and to AbuBakkar.

The young winger used good pace to almost reach the goal line.

His shot from a difficult angle found its way into the net probably with help from a deflection.

The Casuals responded well and it took them just three minutes to reduce the deficit. A strong run down the left saw an accurate low cross find Dan Bennett who scored from close range.

On 74 minutes Bennett had a chance following a corner but shot wide. Hartley then had a good spell following the introduction of Tyron Smith.

A good run down the left by Abubakaar saw him pass to Mikey Campbell.

The substitute striker fed Ty Smith who fired just over on 80 minutes. It was almost action replay a minute later with Jack French shooting just over following another fluent move.

Into added time and a late corner from the Casuals produced a pinball skirmish in front of the Hartley goal. This was relieved with a measured hoof ball out from Ty Smith.

There was still time for Mikey Campbell to create a chance for himself which he fired just over the bar. A good three points for the Row.

However, most thoughts go towards Joe Hicks and the hope that he will recover as soon as is possible.

Hartley joint manager Anthony Millerick said: “Anthony Millerick: “Walton Casuals are a good team with a good home record. The 4G pitch makes it a different game from what we are used to.”

He added: “We adapted to our game plan which proved successful. The ingredient for success is Hard work, Discipline, Ability to counter attack and of course a bit of luck. This is a very tight league and these are vital points for us.”

Next for Hartley is a tough home game against high flying Salisbury on Saturday.