THERE was plenty of drama and controversy on Friday night as Ledbury Town finally kicked off the new year in a 4-3 defeat to Clee Hill United.

Having had an extended Christmas break and after last weekend’s postponed fixture against Hinton, Ian Merrick’s men were able to kick start the season again but it ended in disappointment at New Street.

United scored twice in the opening stages to race into a 2-0 lead before Tom Boyle pulled one back after 20 minutes and then equalised nine minutes before half-time.

Boyle completed his hat-trick in the 69th minute but Craig Breakwell levelled once more before a controversial free-kick allowed the visitors to win it with ten to go.

It was a disastrous start underneath the floodlights as Ryan Clarke scored twice within three minutes for United, even if Boyle managed to pull one back before twenty minutes had elapsed.

The prolific home striker restored the stalemate nine minutes before the interval as the match remained anyone’s game going into the break under what was akin to a cup semi-final atmosphere at New Street.

The crowd of 80 with a crowd erupted in the 69th minute when Boyle completed his treble.

The joy of Ledbury supporters was short-lived however, when Craig Breakwell equalized barely two minutes later, before a yellow card for the red and black shirts and a consequential and highly controversial free kick from Town substitute player Curt Williams saw Steven Preece bag a crucial fourth goal for his side with ten minutes to go.

A highly unusual and somewhat bizarre 85th minute saw the referee that evening briefly pass out on the pitch in the frigid conditions, with the Clee Hill’s later-disallowed fifth goal occurring whilst the official was on the floor to cap off an already-dramatic evening full of twists and turns.