Another away match and a return to league action, here's the report:
Sydenhams Premier League (Saturday 12th December 2020)
After rather lukewarm performances and mixed results in their two cup games since the unscheduled break; Hamworthy were keen to return to the title challenge that they have been relishing in prior to that. The Crest Finance Stadium with its now fine facilities has always proved a tough hunting ground for the Hammers, and the maximum 300 allotted fans present would no doubt create a charged atmosphere. Their ambitious hosts were also on song having won their two league games 3-0. With Max Buckler suspended for four matches, Tim Sills drafted in two new signings from Poole Town, Steve Devlin who started, and Bailey Rowe on the bench.
The match started on a fairly even keel with play a little scrappy and tense. Lee Francis for the Hammers and Ellis Martin for the Royals however both saw solid efforts well held. It was the Hammers though who took the lead on 23 minutes. This followed some dogged work by Matty Neale, and was courtesy of a good advantage played by the referee. His shot rebounded off a defender into the path of Cam Munn lurking just inside the penalty area. Munn made the most of his opportunity; his clean strike finding the net off the right post. Hamworthy now started to take control. One excellent move saw a long through ball by Steve Devlin expertly dummied by Dan Cann to set up Munn. However, his effort was pushed wide by the advancing Brad Snelling. Tony Rolls at the far post then only just failed to connect with Devlin's resulting corner. In the 30th minute, the Hammers missed a golden chance to double the lead. The referee awarded them a penalty after Lee Francis had been pulled back by Martin. The Royals' man was dismissed having been adjudged to be "last man". Eddie Hodge however saw his spot kick well saved by Snelling diving low to his left. Hodge managed to make atones on 46 minutes with a goal worthy of the entrance price alone. Steve Devlin's corner from the left was first headed clear, the ball bouncing gently towards Hodge way out on the right. Hodge then managed from 30 yards what he could not do from 12. His first-time connection sent the ball like a missile into the far top corner of the net, the keeper only able to watch. Every spectator present should count themselves fortunate to have witnessed it.
United emerged from the interval again the stronger and soon made it three on 53 minutes. The visitors were perhaps a little fortunate to be awarded a free kick on the edge of the area. The decision could in fact have gone either way, with Cam Munn and Royals' man Henry Lander (also booked) both tussling with feet up for a lose 50:50 ball. This did not bother Steve Devlin, who spotted a gap before blasting the dead ball into the top right corner of the net, again leaving the keeper motionless. However, it was down to calamitous defending when Hamworthy added a fourth three minutes later. Devlin's deft and quickly taken free kick played in Cam Munn. Munn rounded the keeper who then collided with one of his own defenders. Munn finally forced the ball into the vacant net despite receiving a late challenge. The hosts did up their game a little after that point, with United understandingly content to hold onto what they had. Barry Mason's corner on 61 minutes was put right into the mix, but after a succession of stabs the ball somehow stayed out of the net. The Hammers though still continued to create good chances, the best of which saw Lee Francis' close range header at the death well tipped over by Snelling.
This must surely rank as United's best performance of the season, even surpassing the match at Fleet for the quality of the goals. This was against a team that will surely themselves be eyeing for the title at the end of the season. It contained a hard core of the Sholing title winning team from two years' back, that included Lee Wort, their own man of the match. Every United player put in a shift. Special mention though be given to Cam Munn for his relentless energy, and Steve Devlin for his remarkable perception in playing the killer ball. Even the Portchester chairman was full of praise for Hamworthy's performance. This fine win keeps them top of the League albeit by a point. The match was also very well refereed.
Hamworthy United: S Murphy, T Rolls, D Randall (C Clarke 70), S Devlin, C Cocklin, A Costello, E Hodge (J Beasley 80), L Francis (c), C Munn, D Cann (B Rowe 60), M Neale
Unused Subs: T Cooper, O Davis