It's the start of a very busy October, 1st stop - AFC Stoneham, here's the match report:
Sydenhams Premier League
Saturday 3rd October 2020
Fourth placed Hamworthy had dropped only two points from their three league games. The Purps though would not be an easy obstacle, having taken four points off United last term, and being well in the mix for the title when the season's results were expunged in March. They are also to be congratulated on negotiating two rounds of FA Cup before finally becoming unstuck at Southern League Frome Town. Although not yet fully on song in the league, they did inflict a heavy 6-1 defeat of Tadley Calleva four weeks back. United boss Tim Sills started with the same eleven as last Saturday, with James Guthrie back available and on the bench.
In a lively opening, United were given a very early scare when Scott Hills' effort for the Purps was only half stopped by Shane Murphy, with Crit Clarke on hand to clear the ball off the line.
It was though the Hammers who opened the scoring on 3 minutes. Eddie Hodge, out on the right, picked up the ball about 15 yards into the Stoneham half. After taking the ball past a couple of defenders, his low cross to into the six-yard box was diverted into his own net by the luckless Ben Clarke as he slid in to clear.
United continued to have the edge in an open game and almost scored again on 20 minutes when Matty Neale dragged his effort just wide from one of a number of teasing diagonal balls from Jamie Beasley. On 36 minutes Lee Francis saw his firm effort very well saved off the legs of Stoneham keeper Tom Parker-Trott after a fine sweeping move involving Hodge and Neale.
United duly doubled their lead on 41 minutes. Another long ball from the left by Beasley eluded a Purps' defender, enabling Dan Cann to find the left corner of the net, wrong footing Parker Trott.
The Hammers almost netted again on the 44 minutes. Beasley forcefully carried the ball down the pitch into the Stoneham box. He finally won a penalty, falling after clear but slight contact by Pip Nolan. Dan Cann's spot kick however was very well saved by Parker-Trott diving low to his right.
Half Time 0-2
The Purps emerged from the break looking the sharper and, just after having a "goal" ruled out for a marginal offside, managed to reduce the deficit on 52 minutes. A perfect ball was delivered across the penalty area from Callum Laycock to half time substitute Sam Woodward, who managed to tuck the ball home across Murphy.
With the away defence now looking strangely hesitant, Stoneham managed to equalize on 57 minutes. The ball quickly found its way down the right side of the pitch following a United corner. With the Hammers outnumbered at the back, Hills finally played the ball across to Sam Woodward to drill into the net, completing a remarkable brace for a player who had only been on the pitch barely ten minutes.
The Hammers however gradually started to settle, compose themselves and return to their normal passing game. Hodge's high diagonal shot was well held by the keeper, while Neale saw a couple of efforts deflected. They eventually regained the lead on 70 minutes when Beasley's well floated corner from the left was powerfully headed into the roof of the net by Tony Rolls.
Stoneham now moved players forward as they fought for the equaliser. Murphy made a couple of good saves, while the Hammers' defence was forced into some desperate clearances, including substitute Sam Chilman doing well to head the ball off the line. Some of these clearances, if more by luck, set up sudden counter attacks, one of which led to Hodge hitting the near post after a good pass by Neale.
Neither team though was able to add to add to their tally before the final whistle. The visitors probably deserved their win, even if in the end they made heavy weather of it after a first half of fine football that they should have ended at least three goals to the good. The game was also pleasant entertainment for the neutral, hard fought but not ugly, with plenty of switching of play.
Full Time 2-3
Hamworthy United: S Murphy, D Randall, C Clarke (S Chilman 75), M Buckler, T Rolls, A Costello, J Beasley (J King 75), L Francis (c), E Hodge, D Cann (J Guthrie 85), M Neale
Unused Subs: T Rees, J Filkins