Sydenhams Premier League (Saturday 21st September 2019)
Team: S Jones, B Randall (H Cooper 80), J Gleeson, H White (L Middlewick 65), D Randall (c), C Tilsed, E Hodge, L Francis, M Steer, D Cann, A Pope (O Davis 55)
Unused Subs: C Beard, C Senior
Fourth placed, but below par Hamworthy United would certainly need to be at their best to return home from Arlebury Park with anything at all. Alresford on the other hand were clear league leaders having won all of their five League games. The Hammers unfortunately were also missing a few regulars in key positions. This resulted in captain Declan Randall bravely deciding to play only a week after suffering a nasty looking injury. United also welcomed new signing Charlie Tilsed from Wimborne Town to the starting line up.
The hosts in fact wasted no time setting out their stall. A very long punt down the pitch on three minutes by their new keeper Jordi Valero caught the United defence cold. The beneficiary Craig Harding was left completely unchallenged as he nudged the ball home just inside the right post.
Both teams created chances over the next half hour. A teasing corner by United's Matt Steer was crying out for a touch that never came as it drifted across the face of the goal, the defender at the near post having missed his clearance. A decent Dann Cann effort was also deflected wide, before the resulting corner by Steer was headed firmly, but just over the bar by Tilsed. Alresford's McAllister then drew two comfortable saves from Jones, who also did very well to claim a low cross from Harding just before McAllister could pounce. It was however the Magpies who next found the net on 33 minutes. A low cross to the near post by Josh Eatwell was easily dispatched into the back of the net by an unmarked Craig Harding. A few minutes later it took a remarkable save to preserve the Magpies' two goal margin. Ash Pope's powerful header to Steer's corner had goal written all over it, but Valero, who must have seen it very late, somehow leapt to claw it over the bar. The Town who had been getting ominously on top towards the break, just shaded the first half by making the most of their chances The United defence at times struggled to cope with the numerous high balls that were pumped into a physically strong home attack ably led by the dangerous McAllister.
Although the Hammers, as they often do, upped their game after the restart, their hope of clawing back the two goal deficit was virtually extinguished in the 53rd minute. Craig McAllister tucked home the rebound after Jones could only parry out an angled low shot on the run by Steven Hall.
Hamworthy to their credit were not giving up the fight, but they unfortunately lacked their usual cohesion, and failed at times to back up the good work done by Eddie Hodge, and, substitute Ollie Davis. More misery resulted for United on 71 minutes when Craig Harding completed his hat trick, heading in Hall's cross past the helpless Jones, again with no defender in sight. After some good approach work, Davis found Cann, who in turn laid the ball into the path Hodge. Sadly the United man's finish did not match the execution, his shot being easily saved by Valero.
The Hammers continued to huff and puff, but, as their crosses came in they were frequently snuffed out by the strong Town defence. The score soon became an embarrassment for the Hammers. On 86 minutes an excellent long ball from substitute Conall Bark set up a glorious opening for Duarte Martins, who slotted the ball home to the left of Jones who yet again had no cover. The hosts deserved the win on the day, looking stronger in all departments, and, unlike United, took their chances.
The Hammers just could not get it together as a unit, but a fully fit Declan Randall and the commanding presence of Tony Rolls at the back would almost certainly have blocked some of the easy openings the Magpies had created. All teams go through bad spells, and the players and management now have to move on and start again next Saturday at Amesbury.