With the FA draw giving the Hammers their 7th FA match away from home, it was off to Andover this time to play in form Andover New Street of the Wessex Division 1. Here's the report:
Andover New Street 1 Hamworthy United 2
Buildbase FA Vase Second Round Proper (Saturday 20th November 2021)
Before the game the Hammers were hoping to keep their Wembley dreams alive, but their hosts would certainly have different ideas. The Street had not lost at home in the league this season, so giving them reason for hope. The omens were also in their favour, having done the double over United in the only two previous meetings between the two clubs in 2018/19. This was despite being relegated from the Premiership after just one season. Meanwhile Hamworthy, had enjoyed a rare week-long respite from action, and were able to welcome back more players from injury. This gave boss Tim Sills more options, although he made only one change from last Saturday's highly successful starting eleven. In the Street programme this game was described as one of the biggest in their Club history.
The large crowd of almost 200 soon witnessed the Hammers making all the early headway, and taking an early lead. With only three minutes on the clock Jamie Beasley's long free kick did not seem to pose too much threat. However, the ball rebounded off Street’s captain Max Scott and fell straight into the path of Lee Francis. The United captain duly slammed the ball into the left-hand corner of the net, giving home keeper Sean O'Brien no chance to save. That goal turned out to be the start of a host of excellent chances that the visitors created, but were just unable to find the net. In almost identical circumstances Matt Neal and Max Wilcock picked up good through balls from Jamie Beasley, but could only direct their efforts just inches wide as the keeper came out to narrow the angle. O'Brien then got down well to deny Neale. It was against the run of play when the hosts equalized on 20 minutes. A lapse in the Hammers defence was seized on by Shane Lock, and his low hard cross from the left bye-line struck the arm of the retreating Adam Costello standing only a yard away. The referee Roger Smith who was was not the youngest of officials, but in his wisdom deemed this worthy of a penalty. It was clearly not a deliberate hand-ball, but these days those decisions tend to be given, and there were few complaints. Ross Cook's spot kick found the bottom left corner of the net, just outside the reach of Shane Murphy. At the other end, the Street keeper continued to have a stand-out game, showing a good sense of positioning throughout, with two good saves in particular from Eddie Hodge. It was therefore with some relief that the Hammers regained the lead just before half time. Max Buckler picked up a good ball from Jamie Beasley who in turn threaded it forward to find Max Willcock's run towards the left of goal. The keeper again held his position well and gave the United striker very little to shoot at, but from tightest of angles he managed to curl the ball just inside the far post. Just like the Cadbury Heath game in the previous round, the Hammers must have been relieved to enter the break one goal to the good. They will however again have wondered how the margin was not three or four with all the gilt-edged chances that they failed to put away. They were perhaps again prone to take just that one touch too many in the box before shooting.
The second period did not have quite the fluency of the first and was far more even. The hosts started strongly, and also again in the latter stages when the United defence certainly had their work cut out. However, the closest the Street actually came to scoring was late on. Substitute Josh Jeffery forced Shane Murphy into a reasonably comfortable near post save. Although the game was never truly dirty, it did become rather feisty at times as the Street pressed hard for their equalizer. Hodge bravely played on after an accidental elbow to the back of the head that meant he had to be bandaged up and change his shirt. Captain Lee Francis also took a nasty gash on his leg from the over enthusiastic Steet substitute Ashleigh James making his first tackle, and he was deservedly booked. The Hammers two best chances also came in the latter stages. Lee Francis's near post header from Neale's corner was we was well turned around the post by O'Brien. The resulting corner led to a big melee in the six-yard box after the keeper was unable to hold onto the ball, but the ball would just not find the net. At the final Whistle, it was job done for United who just looked that bit fitter, and had just that bit more class, but New Street had certainly given them a battle especially in the second half.
Hamworthy United: S Murphy, T Rolls, H Wright, M Buckler (B Walker 85), C Cocklin, A Costello, E Hodge (D Eccott-Young 90), L Francis (c), M Wilcock (J Lovell 70), M Neale, J Beasley
Unused Subs: C Clarke, D Randall, S Lanahan, C Munn