The Hammers returned to league action at the end of a week which saw the sad passing of former Chairman Steve Harvey. The players paid their own respects warming up in t-shirts adorning Steve's picture on the front. It was then time to concentrate on the match.
Hamworthy United 4 Alresford Town 2
Sydenhams Premier League (Saturday 17th October 2020)
On fire Hamworthy were finally forced to change their line-up, Jamie Filkins stepping in for the suspended Max Buckler. Connor Cocklin returned to the bench, sufficiently recovered from his lengthy rib injury. United needed a win to stay in the mix at the top of the table, and, on recent form, Alresford looked easy pickings after their unusually indifferent start. They had also been well beaten by the Hammers at Alrebury Park in an earlier cup game. The Magpies however have shown a fine league pedigree in recent years and normally give United a tough game.
Both teams struggled to find their feet early on with no clear chances at either end. The first shot on target fell to the hosts on 16 minutes. A fine long ball from Matty Neale found Eddie Hodge in space, whose attempted lob was easily caught by the Town keeper Aaron Bufton. The visitors however soon shocked United by snatching a 22nd minute lead. Louis Russell managed weave his way past Declan Randall along the left bye-line, before slipping the ball across to his captain Ashley Elson to poke into the net from close range. The Hammers responded positively and were back on terms on 38 minutes with a picture goal. Neale's long corner was nodded back in by Randall, setting up a free header for captain Lee Francis, which forcefully found the back of the net. It took only a further three minutes for United to score again and claim the lead. Following a headed clearance from a corner, Dan Cann won a good challenge on the left. The United danger man then whipped in a cross to Neale who slotted the ball through to Jamie Beasley unmarked in the six-yard box to fire home. Remarkably, the Hammers' sudden scoring spree continued. Jamie Beasley was almost on the far-left bye-line, and was surrounded by opposition players when he received the ball back from his own pass. His options seemed very limited, but, after cutting in a few paces, he somehow squeezed the ball just inside the far upright for his second and United’s third.
The second period started with vigour, Francis for the hosts and Daryll Phillips for the visitors saw fierce shots pass very close to the post. Francis then saw his header well held following a good United move. It was the Magpies however who reduced the arrears on 55 minutes. Ashley Elson will go down in the books as the scorer, but all the credit must go to surely Louis Russell. After the Hammers lost the ball near the half way line, Russell's long darting run, in from the left, finally presented an easy tap in to his colleague, who was found spare in the six-yard box. The Town were now starting to look much more dangerous in attack, with Shane Murphy making two fine saves. At the other end, following a United break, Beasley somehow put an easy chance over the bar following a ricochet off the keeper. United must have been relieved to find the net again on 73 minutes. Neale won the ball deep in Alresford territory and slipped it into the path of Dan Cann, who planted the ball home just to the left of the exposed keeper. The Hammers, now took control and began to produce the football they are capable of. Neale soon smashed a cross from Hodge against the upright, before the same player ended a fine inter-passing move putting his effort just wide; when it looked easier to score. Late on, Francis's stooped header from another Hodge cross just cleared the far post, after which substitutes James Guthrie and Cam Munn both drew good saves. The Hammers finally achieved the three points they expected and remain third, but a spirited Alresford certainly at times took the game to them and United knew that they had been in a match.
Hamworthy United: S Murphy, D Randall, C Clarke (C Cocklin 65), J Filkins, A Costello, T Rolls, E Hodge, L Francis (c), M Neale, D Cann (J Guthrie 70), J Beasley (C Munn 80)
Unused Subs: T Cooper, C Ward