IT was billed as the clash of the Golden Boots as Tintern Abbey hosted Division 1 leaders Underwood on Saturday.

With last season’s hottest strikers going head-to-head, a high-scoring match seemed on the cards but both defences were on top form, restricting Underwood’s Josh Downing and Tintern’s Geraint Reynolds to only a handful of shots and honours were shared with a goal apiece although the visitors took the points with a 2-1 victory.

Playing up the slope in the first half, Underwood enjoyed a fair amount of possession on a surface which could have done with a cut. Downing produced the first real chance with a smart overhead kick to set up Kyle Harrison but as the winger drove the ball past home keeper Robert Hill, referee Mark Pring blew for offside.

Play swung end to end with defences holding firm against tricky forwards and both keepers being called upon to make good saves.

The deadlock was broken just before half time when Reynolds ended a strong run by beating Justin Bidgood from just inside the area.

Soon after the restart, Elliot Campfield drove home the equaliser and as time ran the almost and the strength-sapping surface took its toll, Downing pounced on a moment of indecision in Tintern’s defence to skip past a tackle and fire the winner, the relief and despair being shown all around the pitch.

At the final whistle Tintern manager Martin Woodford was disappointed but optimistic that his team had turned a corner following a 6-1 defeat the previous week at Sudbrook CC.

“All but our most hardened supporters were bracing themselves for defeat,” he said. “I was proud of the way we competed against quality opponents today. Darryl Reynolds in midfield and our defence were superb. We undoubtedly deserved at least a share of the points”

Underwood boss Danny Williams gave Tintern credit for the way they battled.

“They scored and could have added a couple more but for us, with the long grass and Tintern using the long ball, it was hard for us to get into any sort of rhythm

“They worked hard but we never gave up trying to win and I think we deserved to win it in the end.”