Hartley Wintney remain in the relegation slots after losing out to play-off chasing Metropolitan Police with the Row also finishing the match with 10 players.

The Met started well and on four minutes a long shot from Joshua Keeya brought out a comfortable save from Adam Desbois in the Hartley goal. The home side continued to have the edge and opened the scoring on six minutes. A through ball found Jasper Mather behind the Row defence. The striker’s shot was saved by Desbois. However Mather was able to regain possession and shot home from 18 yards. (1-0).

 Hartley struggled to get a foothold in the match and it was the home side who were the more incisive with their attacks. On 15 minutes a free kick for the Met some 25 yards out gave Herson Rodrigues-Alves a chance and the effort went narrowly wide of the goal. Two minutes later the Met increased the lead. Desbois rushed from his goal and smashed a clearance against one of the Row defenders with the ball going for a corner on the left. From the flag kick by Conor Lee, Rodrigues-Alves rose unchallenged to head home. (2-0). 

On 29 minutes a crisp move by the home side created space for Keeya who saw his parting shot go inches wide of the goal. Hartley responded and had a good spell of pressure as they strove to try and get back into the match. Zidan Akers for the Row managed to get behind the Met defence but delayed his shot. Under pressure he passed to Anis Nuur who set up Benjamin Purcell who saw his excellent strike bring out a very good save from Met keeper Liam Beach. The Row continued to press and a minute later Beach was forced into another save from Nuur. On 39 minutes a dangerous cross from the left from Josh Webb was spilled by Beach and Kingsley Eshun was unlucky to see his follow-up shot deflected wide by Beach.

The Met responded and added another goal on 43 minutes. Beach rolled the ball out to left back Louis Birch who played a long ball down the line. The Row right side looked threadbare as the home side forwards claimed the space given to good effect. The ball was squared to Joshua Keeya who shot home from the edge of the penalty area. (3-0).

Hartley pulled a goal back before half time. A long cross field pass found Zidan Akers oming in from the left. The parting shot took a slight deflection and Beach was unable to prevent the ball entering the net (3-1)

Hartley started the second half well and play moved constantly towards the Met goal. On 55 minutes a decent move ended with Harry Cooksley shooting wide from a cross from Eshun. The Row had possession for long periods but were unable to create a meaningful effort on goal. However, their hopes of retrieving the match were dealt a blow when midfielder Anis Nuur was sent from the field of play by referee S.Scott. This followed a reckless challenge when Nuur’s feet were off the ground when making the tackle.

Despite the man disadvantage Hartley still came forward and should have reduced the lead on 73 minutes. Purcell’s incisive pass sent Paul Hodges through behind the Met defence creating a one-on-one situation with Beach in the home side goal. Hodges shot was saved by Beach.

The last 10 minutes saw the Met regain the initiative against the 10 men. On 80 minutes an incisive move created a chance for Mather and Desbois brought out a good save. Two minutes later Desbois was called into action again as he produced a fine stop from Rodgrigues-Alves after he was set up by Keeya. The Row goal had a narrow escape on 83 minutes when a period of pressure saw a header from Luke Robertson crash off the post. Then Mather had an effort which was saved by Desbois.

The Row finished the match well with a spell of pressure but were unable to narrow the score line. Defensive frailties apparent in the first half were always going to be hard to recover from.