Another home game at the weekend, here's the report:
Sydenhams Premier League (Saturday 10th October 2020)
Bang in form Hamworthy, with clubs about them engaged in FA Vase action, knew a win would take them into second place in the standings. By contrast, their Portsmouth based guests had lost their last three in the league, this hiccup started in fact by United's 4-0 win at their Kendall Stadium two weeks ago. This was following on after Baffins' very good start to the season. For the fourth game running, the Hammers' boss Tim Sills kept faith with the same starting eleven, with Cam Munn returning to the bench after serving out his three-match suspension.
Following the kick-off, United seemed to lack the fluency that they had shown in their previous games. Credit though must be given to their opponents who were fielding a couple of new signings since the last encounter two weeks ago. They were closing Hamworthy down well, before the home team could create any real openings. In fact, they had the first shot on target bringing Shane Murphy into action on 14 minutes to gather a well struck bouncing shot from Tommy Scott. The Hammers did however manage to find a way through on 17 minutes. Eddie Hodge, out on the right, did very well to win the ball just inside the Baffins' half. After first cutting in well followed by some fine interplay with Matty Neale, Hodge fired the ball into the top right corner from just inside the area, giving the visiting keeper Charlie Searle no chance to save.
Although Dan Cann did shortly afterwards cleverly flick a teasing goal line ball from Hodge just over the bar (only to be caught offside anyway); the game still struggled to come to life. Drama did however unfold on the stroke of half time. The ball broke kindly to Matty Neale just past the half way line, enabling him a clear run to goal. Just as he was finally about to pull the trigger, he appeared to be blatantly pulled back by Zak Sharp. To the complete surprise of the Hamworthy players, and almost everyone watching, the referee overruled the line official's verbal advice of a spot-kick.
The Hammers did up their game after the break; Beasley's follow-up attempt was charged down by a defender after an excellent parry by the keeper. Beasley's in-swinging corner then rebounded off the far woodwork, and, in the ensuing scramble, Tony Rolls fired against the same post before the ball was cleared. With United now fully in control and creating more chances, the away defending was becoming rather feisty. This led to more work for the officials on 70 minutes. Max Buckler's overreaction to a very poor challenge from the back by James Cowan saw both players finally red carded, with Baffins' man Miles Everett also sent to the sin bin for dissent. When football did return, the Hammers were now well and truly in charge. They finally doubled their advantage on 76 minutes. Substitute Cam Munn did well to keep hold of the ball as he doggedly cut in from the left. He then played the ball square to Eddie Hodge whose shot was not the cleanest but still found the back of the net via a deflection.
The Hammers netted their third only three minutes later. Adam Costello swept an excellent ball out to Cann on the left, who in turn played it across for Matty Neale to tuck home from about six yards. However, the petulance on the pitch was now spreading off it, the Baffins' manager receiving first a yellow then immediately a red card for persistent use of inappropriate language to the referee. United remained on the front foot and in injury time, replicated the score of the two weeks' back. Substitute James Guthrie, although stumbling, somehow flicked the ball through the legs of an opponent to put Matty Neale in the clear. Neale then went on to beat Searle, who had a fine game, with a neat finish just inside the near post.
Although this game will never go down as a good advert for Wessex League, and this was not all the players fault, United can reflect that as well as achieving second place, they are also joint top scorers with the best goal difference. It should be a very interesting season ahead.
Hamworthy United: S Murphy, D Randall, C Clark, M Buckler, T Rolls, A Costello, E Hodge (J Filkins 75), L Francis (c), M Neale, D Cann (J Guthrie 80), J Beasley (C Munn 65)
Unused Subs: T Cooper, S Chilman