Four-goal Simons denied by gutsy Onions
Flanagan's Onions 4 X-Roads Warriors 4
Striker Paul Simons netted four times but X-Roads still could not manage a victory after Omar Wilson's scorcher in the 89th minute earned Onions a share of the spoils.
Simons gave the visiting side the lead four times but Onions continually found equalisers in a frantic match that also saw them have a penalty saved midway in the second half.
Onions gave an indication of things to come when they found the net after just 25 seconds, only to have Keston Lewis's effort ruled out for offside.
Simons broke through the Onions defence on the left corner of the box before placing his low shot inside the far post to give X Roads the lead. Lewis replied just a minute later a minute from close range.
Simons made it 2-1 when he forced the ball home from inside the six-yard box when a corner by Rahmori Brangman found him unmarked.
Onions replied from a corner themselves late in the half when the ball reached captain Peter Robey on the edge of the box and his effort dropped under the crossbar.
Onions were forced to make three changes to their defence, full back Nicoy Anglin going off at the start of the second half, while centre backs Mohamed Aden and Robey picked up injuries.
Onions' defence was breached again in the 62nd minute when goalkeeper Chejon Berkeley came off his line but failed to clear the ball as Simons challenged. The ball rolled into Simons's path before his shot towards an open goal skimmed the bar.
X-Roads took the lead for the third time a minute later when Brangman's cross bounced off the leg of Simons and into the near post past a stunned Berkeley. Simons went close to giving X-Roads a two-goal cushion two minutes later when his shot from an angle inside the box struck the near post.
Onions were awarded a penalty in the 67th minute when Treshun Smith was fouled by captain Jamin Furbert. However, Jez Burrows made a save to to keep out Smith's spot kick.
Three goals late in the game brought the match to a thrilling finish. Onions equalised when X-Roads defender Orlyn Williams scored into his own net at the near post from a corner on the left, only to see Simons to score his fourth.
“It's absolutely disappointing, we were looking for three points today,” Fared El Karfa, the X-Roads manager, said. “We dominated, especially in the first half and created a lot of chances but defensively we weren't good.
“We conceded a lot of unnecessary goals. Obviously you have to give respect to our opponents, they are fighting to stay up as well. They didn't give us an easy game, a draw is better than a loss.
“This season we needed Paul up front and you can see he did a great job today. He worked very hard and scored four goals. He was a big asset to the game today. It's still a positive result because it leaves us ahead of three other teams.”
Wilson, the Onions left back, certainly saved the best for last when he scored the game's best goal, a shot from all of 25 yards that smashed into the back of the net.
Then Onions, who finished the match with ten men when substitute Paul Smith went off feeling dizzy, went close to an injury-time winner when substitute Miles Brewer drove a slot from 25 yards that looked headed into the bottom corner before the diving Burrows turned the ball around the post.
Coach Mick Ward praised Wilson's late strike and his team's fighting spirit against the promoted side. “He [Wilson] put in a great one and saved our bacon,” Ward said.
“To have to come back four times is obviously disappointing, we've played better than we did today but today things went against us. We finished the game without our two recognised centre backs and finished with ten men because of injuries.
“However, the lads showed fight and spirit and kept going and never gave up. To come back four times is fantastic. At the end of the day we're happy with the point. It was a decent game for the neutrals.”
Lewis 12, Robey 38, Williams 75 og, Wilson 89
Simons 11, 15, 63, 76
Flanagan's Onions: C Berkeley — N Anglin (sub: C Burns 46min), M Aden (sub: P Smith 51), P Robey (sub: M Brewer 56), O Wilson, A Rocker, J Higson, N Dunkle, S Swan, K Lewis,
T Smith. Substitutes not used: M Ward, L Matthews.
X-Roads: J Burrows — A Burgess, J Furbert, K Wilkinson, O Williams, P Parsons, K Davis-Jones, A Heyliger (sub: J Swan 51), R Brangman, R Beek (sub: J Sanchez 51), P Simons. Substitutes not used: K Godfrey, M McGowan, D Cooper, P Quinn. Booked: Parsons, Furbert.
Referee: A Francis.