The Hammers returned to league action on Saturday. Here's the report:
AFC Stoneham 1 Hamworthy United 1
Sydenhams Premier League (Saturday 14th August 2021)
This was always going to be a tough match; both clubs being on the backs of good FA Cup wins last weekend. Stoneham had also gained a share of the spoils at much fancied Blackfield & Langley in their opening League encounter. It has finished one win apiece on United's two previous visits to the impressive Stoneham Lane Football Complex, with both very close and open games. Tim Sills again showed his willingness to rotate his large squad, making five changes to last Saturday's starting eleven.
Perhaps not helped by the warm atmosphere, play started off quite sluggishly, neither team really standing out. The first shot of note came from United's Eddie Hodge ten minutes in. It did not lack pace, but it was pushed out with little difficulty by home keeper Tom Parker-Trott at his near post. It was the hosts though who opened the scoring on 16 minutes with a quality goal. Hammers' man Jamie Beasley was bundled off the ball on the half-way line on United's left. It then quickly found its way down the right flank to Purps' man Tommy Barnes. Barnes sent in a sublime low cross, almost along the edge of the penalty area, which was expertly dummied by Matt Bainbridge. The ball then rolled on to Jacob Gilpin to execute a perfect side foot curler into the far side netting which left Shane Murphy motionless. It took only a minute however for the Hammers to respond. Max Wilcock combined well with Harvey Wright on the left, before teeing the ball back to Lee Francis. The United captain captain's crisp strike from 20 yards beat the dive of Parker-Trott to find the left corner of the net. Hamworthy remained in control and, on the stroke of half time, a good effort by Max Wilcock only just cleared the corner of the goal frame. If you take away the two fine goals, there not too much to write home about in the first period. Hamworthy had more of the ball and ended it the stronger. AFC Stoneham meanwhile, although putting up a determined rear guard, managed to counter with a few ground shots which Murphy fielded competently.
Although the Hammers were still unable to set the game alight after the interval, they continued to dominate, but there was always a sense it was never going to be their day. Glorious chances fell to Cam Munn and Eddie Hodge in almost identical circumstances, both having been put through by good balls. However, both could only screw their shot agonisingly just wide of the far post. On 86 minutes, United must have finally thought they had earned the points when they were awarded a penalty after the referee spotted a clear nudge on Munn. Jack Lovell's spot kick to the left corner had plenty of meat on it, and it would have beaten most keepers. However, the busy Parker-Trott pulled off a magnificent save, pushing the ball wide; after guessing correctly. When the final whistle came, AFC Stoneham, who only once managed to work Murphy after the break, would no doubt feel it was a point gained. United on the other hand were reminded that chances count for nothing if the ball is not put into the back of the net. On the bright side, the Hammers unbeaten start continues and there is of course almost all the season still to play for.
Hamworthy United: S Murphy, D Eccott-Young, H Wright, M Buckler (C Munn 60), B Walker, A Costello, E Hodge, L Francis (c), M Wilcock (D Cann 65), M Neale, J Beasley (J Lovell 75)
Unused Subs: D Randall, C Clarke