Culley brace seals a sixth straight crown
SWANSEA 1 HARTPURY 4
HARTPURY'S senior football team clinched the BUCS Premier League South title with a game to spare as a dogged performance in poor conditions helped them to victory over Swansea.
As expected, the conditions were atrocious, with gale force winds and driving rain causing havoc.
The pitch in Swansea was heavy but playable and the wind played a huge part, with both teams struggling to get to grips with the opening exchanges.
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The first attack of the half nearly resulted in a goal for the home side against the wind, as a long ball over the top seemed to be going through to Hartpury's goalkeeper when a gust held it up and it fell to the feet of a Swansea player.
But Hartpury were happy to see him rush his shot and the ball squirm wide of the upright.
Hartpury raced into the lead on five minutes when a Dan Holloway corner swerved and evaded everyone in the box before dropping in at the far post.
Despite the sometimes farcical nature of the game, Hartpury continued to try and play effective but controlled football.
Another corner routine showed its worth, this time after 15 minutes with Adam Mann taking the dead ball from the opposite side. He swung in the ball which was met by the towering head of James Baldwin, who from six yards made no mistake and dispatched the ball high into the net.
The rest of the half fizzled out into a dull affair, with the middle third of the pitch turning boggy.
The second half started with Hartpury playing against the wind, and strangely enough it suited them as the ball was played with precision along the ground.
Steve Guinan's side nearly extended their lead as Jake Parrott saw his strike rebound off the post with the keeper beaten. Matt Liddiard then should have put the game beyond the Welsh side as he missed the target when it seemed impossible to do so.
The away side did not pay for their misses as an excellent piece of individual skill from Duncan Culley effectively put the tie to bed.
The powerful striker skipped past three challenges out on the left wing before cutting in and powering a strike past the Swansea goalkeeper.
Swansea showed the occasional attacking foray but were well marshalled by the Hartpury back four of Roome, Clarke, Halford and Njoya.
Culley then wrapped up the points and a sixth straight league title for the university side with a simple side-footed finish from Mann's low cross.
Hartpury will feel disappointed not to have kept a clean sheet, despite the fact it took a special strike to do so.
Goalkeeper James Nortei was harshly adjudged to be time-wasting, and from the resulting free-kick Swansea smashed the ball into the top left corner.
Hartpury: Nortei, Roome, Njoya, Halford, Clarke, Holloway (Wilson 60), Liddiard (Hancock 70), Baldwin, Mann, Parrott, (O'Leary 60), Culley.