HORSHAM >> For 40-plus minutes in Tuesday’s Suburban One League American Conference game, it looked like the contest was destined to end in a draw.
A draw was certainly not the result the home team Hatboro-Horsham wanted and with just over six minutes remaining in the game, Danny Bateman scored a goal to notch the desired result lifting the Hatters to a 1-0 win over Cheltenham.
“I thought we were the better team today, we had more opportunities we just didn’t do a good job finishing in front of goal,” Hatboro-Horsham coach Kyle McGrath said.
Bateman was on the verge of breaking through as his aggressive play in the midfield either encouraged the Hatters attack or just narrowly missed some solid opportunities.
“They threw their big guns forward and we kept Danny high like we typically do and we were able to play a long ball to him,” McGrath said. “He works hard and he’s relentless the entire match. We always know he’s going to get opportunities like that so for him to finally get on the end of a ball and really attack it is great to see.”
The weird thing about the Bateman goal was he got the ball on the run in the open field on a counter opportunity as the Cheltenham was pushing up on a throw in opportunity. The Panthers didn’t have the look of a team that was playing for a draw even though the result would have been more beneficial for the visitors.
“We know our strengths and our weaknesses and I sent our backs in to get a shot and get to the back post for a tap-in,” Cheltenham coach Chuck Gesing said. “We are going for a win.”
In a way, it was almost just that the Hatter broke through as they dominated time of possession and shots. Hatboro-Horsham finished with 18 shots to just four for the Panthers.
Although the shot totals were very skewed, Cheltenham did a good job defensively to prevent many quality looks and shots at the goal. Of the 18 Hatter shots, only six were on goal.
“We pride ourselves on stout defense,” Gesing said. “We want to keep teams outside. Today we had a freshman (Lou Ledika) in goal out of necessity and the boys really rose to the occasion and did a nice job protecting him.”
For the Hatters, they remain undefeated in league play while Cheltenham is looking to get things pointed in the right direction. The Panthers will be right back in action Wednesday night when they take on another undefeated SOL American opponent in Upper Dublin a game that’s a bit personal for Gesing.
“I work at Upper Dublin so those guys love beating me,” Gesing said. “They’re going to come at us hard and we’re going to come at them hard they know, they know I like beating them too.”