Ed Rolph hat-trick earns Histon success over Cambridge City in Velocity Trophy
Ed Rolph scored a second-half hat-trick as Histon defeated Cambridge City 4-1 in the Velocity Trophy.
City had taken the lead through Matt Sparrow, but after Max York’s penalty levelled matters in the half, the Stutes pulled clear in the league cup after the break.
After an inconsistent start to the season for both sides, the match had a feel of a bit of a free hit about it.
For the winners, they could use it as a confidence boost and a step on the way to building a bit of momentum. For the losers, they could point to it as a league cup game with little meaning.
The latter did not paint itself during the match though, as it was keenly contested.
Both teams seemed intent in trying to play in behind the other, which lead to no outright control in the midfield and a search to expose the channels.
Maybe not so for supporters, but for neutrals of a certain vintage, the battle between City centre-back Derek Ubah and Histon striker Rolph was fascinating to watch.
They are both physically imposing characters, with neither being shrinking violets, so the tussle was compelling as they sought to steal a yard off one another.
What made it equally stand out was that, bar the odd foul here and there that earned Rolph a yellow card, it was by and large just a good, old-fashioned battle.
In the attacking stakes, Matt Sparrow offered City’s best outlet in the first half.
The winger looks so at ease with the ball at his feet and, as the side beds in, you imagine that he would just get better, and he got the opening goal after 17 minutes.
Seizing on a loose header, Sparrow took a deft touch and then with the outside of his right boot gave Histon keeper Sam Roach no chance.
Histon were back on level terms in the 28th minute.
Inside the first 10 minutes, a deflected clearance appeared to hit the hand of a City defender in the area, but it was certainly accidental and nothing was given.
However, when Dan Brown - who was doing well to stretch the City defence - broke down the left and put in a low centre, Ubah slid in at the front post to defend against the threat of Rolph.
The ball accidentally hit the hand of the City defender, but this time referee Shaun Gregory awarded a penalty. Max York made no mistake with the spot kick, firing it low to Lewis Landers’ right.
There were few clear-cut chances for either side, but Histon gained the ascendancy in the second half as they started to get the upper hand in midfield and City found themselves increasingly on the wrong end of the referee's whistle.
The third goal arrived in the ninth minute of the second half.
A long throw caused problems in the City area and when it was hooked back across to the front post, Histon had three players queuing up to score and the job fell to Rolph to score.
It was 3-1 in the 66th minute. Another melee in the area fell to Rolph, who fired across goal and into the net via a deflection off City defender Seb Simpson.
Rolph had his hat-trick five minutes later.
Brown had been a great avenue for success for Histon all game, and he got in down the left and crossed low for Rolph, who took a touch inside the defender to finish off.
It remained 4-1 at the final whistle, and will mean Histon jump above City in the Velocity Trophy, which is a group format.
Cambridge City: Landers, Dua, Simpson, Palmer, Gent, Ubah, Sparrow, Maynard, Amu, Burnett, Davis.
Subs: Sharman (Davis, 54), Bantick (Amu, 54), Booth (Sparrow, 69). Substitutes not used: Head, Farrow.
Histon: Roach, Bexfield, Camacho, Smith, York, Ruddy, Rolph, Swinton, Brown, Harradine, Gould.
Substitutes: Weinman (Harradine, 53), Marshall (Gould, 66), Chivers (Bexfield, 82). Substitutes not used: Green.
Referee: Shaun Gregory.
Bookings: Histon - Swinton (foul, 45), Rolph (foul, 63).