After nearly 8 months of waiting for a Wessex League game....here's the report from the game:
Sydenhams Premier League (Tuesday 3rd August 2021)
Following fine results in their "Friendlies", it was a relief to see the Hammers return to meaningful action as they kicked off their League campaign in the New Forest. Harvey Wright, Max Wilcock and Jack Lovell, all recently signed from Christchurch, were making their Hammers' competitive debuts. Ex-Hammer Billy Walker, having recently taken the same journey back, found himself on a strong bench.
In a sprightly start, the Hammers so nearly opened the scoring on 10 minutes, Matty Neale's long shot clipping the bar after a slick move down the pitch. It was the Badgers however who drew first blood on 16 minutes. A superbly measured long ball by Ronan Moore bisected Adam Costello and Connor Cocklin, both seemingly taken a little by surprise and neither coming to terms with the flight of the ball. Silvano Obeng accepted the opening with both hands, stabbing the ball home to the left of the exposed Shane Murphy who stood tall as he came out to narrow the angle. Shortly after, Hammers' Steve Devlin had to succumb to a nasty knock to his back, and was replaced by Jamie Filkins. United were back on terms on 27 minutes. Eddie Hodge's initial shot hit a defender and rolled kindly into the path of Matty Neale on the edge of the penalty area. Neale's lethal strike was destined for the left corner, but was somehow pushed onto the post by home stopper James Mayo. Unluckily for the keeper, the ball rolled agonizingly to the opposite post, and eventually found the net as a defender tried to clear. The Hammers then got their noses in front on 33 minutes with a fine team effort. A clearance kick by Shane Murphy was superbly flicked on in the air by Jack Lovell to be met by the forward run of Matty Neale. After combining well with Wilcock, Neale, cutting in from the right, managed to steer the ball into the far corner of the net, just wide of the advancing Mayo. Hamworthy however, missed the comfort a decent cushion on 37 minutes. Having been pulled down just inside the box, Neale himself took the resultant penalty but blasted the ball over the bar, with a hat-trick at his mercy. The score remained intact until the half time whistle in what had been a very entertaining first period. The Badgers' main threat were the long balls down to Obeng, which frequently ended up with some heroic last-ditch tackles and blocks. The Hammers, possible woken up by the goal conceded, gradually came to terms with the Brockenhurst game plan, and started to take the game to their opponents with some good build-up play along the deck.
The second period continued to provide great entertainment with some notable moments.
Although both teams created decent chances, it was certainly the visitors who created the more and better ones. On 65 minutes, Wilcock intercepted a poor back pass, but having done the hard work by rounding the keeper, he could only find the side netting, albeit from a tight angle. With game becoming a little feisty at times, United were clearly not happy with some of the referee's decisions (or rather non-decisions), Lovell earning himself a 10-minute sin-bin visit on 71 minutes. On 84 minutes, it was the Badgers' turn to be a man down, this time permanently, Jack Smith branded a straight red card for hauling down Dan Cann as "last man". It then took a wonder save by Mayo to peg the deficit to one, who somehow managed to push Jamie Beasley's venomous free kick onto and over bar, which was met with due applause by both sets of spectators. Whilst United were unable to grab their third goal, there was always a feeling that the Badgers could snatch an equaliser on the break, in this closely fought game. However, the Hamworthy back line remained resolute until the final whistle, to create a welcome winning start for boss Tim Sills.
Hamworthy United; S Murphy, T Rolls, H Wright, S Devlin (J Filkins 20), C Cocklin, A Costello, E Hodge (J Beasley 80), L Francis (c), M Wilcock (D Cann 75), M Neale, J Lovell
Unused subs; D Randall, B Walker