In the final match before Christmas 2021, the Hammers faced a tricky game against the most entertaining team in the country (goals per game wise), a team who have beaten league leaders Horndean 5-1 yet also lost heavily in other matches. Which Fareham would turn up for this one? Here's the match report:
Fareham Town 3 Hamworthy United 3
Wessex Premier League (Saturday 18th December 2021)
Hamworthy were keen to get their league title aspirations back on track after dropping points of late, and mid-table Fareham have had some inconsistent results in recent weeks. However, as they proved in their away 5-1 demolition of title contenders Horndean in late November; on their day they can be a match for anybody. United still had a few first team contenders out with injury, but were bolstered on the bench by the signing of ex-Hammer Mickey Finch from Bournemouth Poppies.
A remarkably good crowd of 342 on a pleasant afternoon were soon witnessing some entertaining open football. It was the visitors who scored first after 6 minutes, but not without some controversy. A long high ball down the right of the pitch by Tony Rolls was nicely brought under control by Jack Lovell. Having got goal side of his man Lovell went to ground after a slight, but clear nudge. The assistant referee was right in line but did not flag, The referee however, to the surprise of the hosts awarded a penalty, which was well taken and converted by Cam Munn. Despite that early setback, the Town showed they had no intention of playing second fiddle, with the long throws of Ethan Jones always a threat. It was no surprise when they were back on terms in the 16th minute when a long corner was headed in at the far post by Archie Wilcox. In an end-to-end match, it was only a technicality of the rules that prevented the Hammers from retaking the lead just minutes later. Following a brisk build-up, the experienced Town keeper Luke Douglas did well save point-blank from Eddie Hodge. The ball though only fell back to the same player whose second effort did find the net. However, because Lee Francis on the line had got a touch to the ball, the "goal" was correctly ruled offside. The Hammers continued to have the edge and regained the lead on 41 minutes. This followed a superb run in from the left by Cam Mann, who finally slipped the ball neatly past the keeper at his near post. The half time score was probably a fair reflection of the proceedings. Though chances were abundant at both ends, the visitors had just that bit extra with their control of the ball and quality of finishing.
The Town had a golden chance to pull level again a minute after the restart. After Crit Clarke's boot had made contact with the head of Town's Josh Benfield, the referee had no hesitation in awarding another spot kick. This time though Ben Rowthorn's penalty bounced high up off the bar and back into play before being cleared. Murphy was now much the busier keeper, but United must have thought they had done enough to make the game safe in the 70th minute after another well worked move. Substitute Drew Eccott-Young picked out the forward run of Eddie Hodge, who in turn found Max Wilcock. Wilcock then laid the ball back into the path of Drew Eccott-Young whose eloquent low shot found the left corner of the net. However, the two-goal comfort zone was to take a big dent just three minutes later when the second header from a Town corner arched just inside the far post, Archie Wilcox was again the scorer. Fareham were now dominating, but in the 88th minute and with time running out the Hammers were stunned in the 88th minute by a late equaliser. Town's Josh Benfield managed to hook a loose ball into the far corner of the net to make it 3-3. In a game of high drama, United then almost snatched the lead back in injury time. After some resolute home defending the ball fell to Harvey Wright but his effort, seemingly destined for the top right corner, drew a breath-taking leaping save by Douglas. The final score in this entertaining game was about right, with the Creeksiders edging the second period. The Hammers however, will not be pleased that they let a two-goal lead slip, and Fareham will be delighted with their late comeback.
Hamworthy United: S Murphy, H Wright, C Clarke (B Walker 70), M Buckler (D Eccott-Young 55), C Cocklin, T Rolls, E Hodge, L Francis (c), M Wilcock, C Munn, J Lovell (M Finch 80)
Unused Sub: J Filkins