MAGPIES 1 Crittenden (pen) 78
STAINES 1 Theophanous 45
NICK Crittenden held his nerve from the penalty spot to earn the Magpies a share of the spoils at the Avenue this afternoon.
The veteran wide man equalised for the hosts 12 minutes from the end after skipper Mark Jermyn had been fouled in the area.
Louis Theophanous had given Staines the lead with a curling effort just before half-time but also spurned a great chance to win the game in the dying minutes.
One change to the Magpies team that beat Tonbridge the previous Saturday saw Jake McCarthy come in for his debut at right-back.
The defender injured an ankle in training just after signing for the county town club with fellow loanee Charlie Losasso in January.
McCarthy replaced the injured Jamie Gleeson, the experienced midfielder having to sit out the match with a minor pelvic problem. Sam Lanahan was pushed up from full-back to fill the void left by Gleeson.
There was a distinct lack of a cutting edge from both teams in the opening stages and the crowd had to wait 13 minutes to see the first attempt on goal from either side.
Nathan Walker put a stop to a surging run from Theophanous with a solid block tackle and when the ball fell to Bajram Pashaj his effort flew wide.
Some seven minutes later it was Dorchester’s chance to go close and had it not been for Jerel Ifil they would have taken the lead.
A Crittenden centre looped into the air off a Staines defender, Nathan Craig hooked the ball into the danger zone and when visiting keeper Jack Turner’s poorly-executed punch fell to Losasso his goal-bound shot was kept out by the covering Ifil.
Both sides showed plenty of endeavour but there wasn’t much of an end product, and the bobbly pitch didn’t help much either.
A mazy run from Max Worsfold then set the alarm bells ringing in the home defence but fortunately for the Magpies his cross was just behind Theophanous, who would have had an easy tap in had the ball fallen for him.
A heavy challenge on Louis-Rae Beadle resulted in a booking for Walker on the half hour mark – Warren Byerley was also cautioned just before half-time too.
Dorchester’s Torquay loanee Ashley Yeoman, a scorer in the 3-2 home win over Bromley, then squandered a great opportunity. Found by Byerley, his low drive was blocked by the legs of Turner.
That miss would prove costly two minutes later when, on the stroke of half-time, Staines went in front.
Walker headed out a cross from the right by Sanchez Ming and, when the ball fell to the feet of Theophanous, his curling effort from the edge of the box flew past Alan Walker-Harris.
The goal was a little harsh on the hosts but for the neutrals it was just what the game needed.
Both sides went close in the first 10 minutes of the second half.
Dan Brown saw his glancing header scrambled out for a corner by Walker-Harris at one end, while Losasso sent a fizzing left-foot piledriver just wide at the other.
It was the Magpies who went close again moments later when Crittenden met Jake Smeeton’s deep cross from the left but couldn’t get a good enough connection on the ball six yards out.
Phil Simkin waited until the 72nd minute to make his first substitution, bringing Clive Makoni on for Lanahan – and just six minutes later the home side was level.
The hard-working Crittenden floated a cross to the far post where Jermyn was waiting, and when he went down under a challenge from Ming referee Steve Plane pointed to the penalty spot.
After Ming was booked, Crittenden stepped up, showed his mettle, and blasted the ball into Turner’s bottom right-hand corner.
Neither side looked like they were going to settle for a point and there were a few scares for both sets of supporters late on.
While Makoni caused problems for the visitors with his pace, Staines replacement Ashley Lodge saw a header gathered by Walker-Harris following a crucial intervention from Walker.
The hearts of the home fans were in their mouths twice deep in injury-time as Staines wasted a couple of glorious chances.
Theophanous blasted over from eight yards out then, with virtually the last kick of the game, Calum Willock did the same.
Magpies: Walker-Harris, McCarthy, Smeeton, Jermyn, N Walker, Lanahan (Makoni 72), Yeoman, Craig, Crittenden, Byerley, Losasso.
Subs not used: Munday, Twyford, S Walker, Way
Staines: Turner, Ming, Brown (Ngamvoulou 79), Ferrell, M’Boungou, Ifil, Pashaj (Lodge 58), Worsfold, Theophanous, Beadle (Willock 72), Brown.
Subs not used: Neville, Merson.
Yellow cards: Magpies – N Walker (foul 30), Byerley (persistent fouling 43), McCarthy (foul 74)
Staines – Ifil (persistent fouling 67), Ming (foul 77)
Referee: Steven Plane (Pershore)