Relegation-threatened Hartley Wintney fell short of a valiant comeback as Walton Casuals defeated them 4-3 in Premier Division South, writes David Graham.

Daniel Rowe scored a hattrick in first 18 minutes in the game that saw two Hartley Wintney players being sent off.

Having seen themselves down 1-4 at half-time, Hartley fought back, playing majority of the second half with just ten men. They fell short at 90 minutes with a second player seeing red card in the final minutes.

The Casuals took control of the match very early on. On 3 minutes a long ball found Adam Liddle behind the Hartley defence. The former Row youth player controlled the ball well before setting up Rowe to shoot home from the edge of the box. (1-0)

The Stags doubled their lead on nine minutes. A slick move down the left enabled the overlapping Reuben Duncan to get to the goal line. His low cross was swept into the net at the near post by Rowe. (2-0).

Hartley were being troubled by the runs of Liddle beyond their defence. On 18 minutes the home side added a third. A move down the left enabled a long high cross into the Hartley area and Rowe headed home unchallenged to complete his hat trick. (3-0).

On 30 minutes Zidan Akers for the Stags found space near the Row area and his shot was saved by the well positioned Luke Williams in the Hartley goal. A minute later the Casuals had a free kick on the edge of the Hartley box. Rowe took the kick which had a massive deflection and went just wide of the goal.

Reece Robins replaced an injured Sam Argent for Hartley and put in a really good performance. On 34 minutes Robins made good progress down the left after a pass from Josh Webb and his cross eluded the Row strikers.

Hartley were stabilising the ship but were rocked by a Stags fourth goal on 36 minutes. A move down the left saw Rohdell Gordon shoot from a difficult angle. The shot seemed to wrong foot Williams and the ball trundled into the net leaving the Row with a mountain to climb. (4-0).

The Row responded well and on 41 minutes got themselves on the scoresheet. A quick Josh Webb free kick found Mitch Parker who fed Daniel Fitchett running behind the Stags defence. The striker rounded Stags goalie Jacob Adams before shooting into the empty net.

Two minutes into the second period and the Stags almost increased their lead. Rowe got past the two Hartley central defenders and shot past Williams but the ball went just wide of the goal. On 52 minutes some loose play by the Row defence presented a good chance to Liddle who blazed his shot over the bar.

Hartley were gaining more possession, but an already difficult task became more difficult on 60 minutes. Fitchett moved from being hero to villain after picking up a red card. The Row striker challenged for the ball with Ansu Jennah and after the Stags defender went down his team mates surrounded the referee. The Casuals claim was deliberate stamp. Fitchett and the Row claimed accidental tread on hand. The referee agreed with the home side and the Row were down to ten players.

Soon after, a long shot from Rowe almost caught out Williams who was off his line and the ball hit the post. Hartley had a good spell despite the disadvantage and on 63 minutes almost reduced the deficit.

A free kick on the right from Jordan Edwards saw Matt Drage rise highest and his header hit the post. However a minute later the Row did pull another goal back. A ball down the left found Parker who cut in. His goal bound shot hit a Stags hand and a penalty kick was awarded. Mitch Parker took the kick himself and scored (4-2).

Hartley continued in the ascendancy and on 73 minutes a good move down the left created a chance for Parker who saw his shot saved. A minute later Leo Hamblin went on a long run with the ball from defence and his parting shot went over the crossbar. Three minutes later a long cross from Ryan Case found Mitchell who saw his shot comfortably saved by Adams.

On 78 minutes Rowe for the Stags went on a long run from defence and his shot from the right went across the face of the goal. Three minutes later and the Hartley’s ten men were back in the game. A move down the left saw Parker holdup play before releasing Hamblin on the overlap. The low cross was controlled by Jordan Edwards who shot home from close range. (4-3)

The Row chances of gaining a point were all but extinguished on 87 minutes. Liddle got free down the middle and was hauled down by Harry Taylor on the edge of the penalty area. As last man defender Taylor was immediately given a straight red card. The free kick saw an excellent save from Williams via the post as Mitchal Gough’s free kick beat the wall. On full time Williams again came to the rescue as he pushed over a long-range effort from Gough.