Sydenhams Wessex League match - 20th October 2020
Following a victory coming from behind for the first time this season on Saturday, the Hammers next fixture away at Portland although on paper may have looked like a certain away win, any visit to the Island can never be taken as an easy fixture! Tim Sills was forced into a change from the weekend line up due to an injury to Crit Clarke on Saturday and so Connor Cocklin returned to the starting line up with Tony Rolls moving to right back and Declan Randall to left back. The hosts were looking improve on their 2nd half showing from the weekend were always going to be "up" for their 'local' derby visitors.
The first half turned out to be well fought if a little shy on quality from both sides. Hamworthy were trying to work up a head of steam and although had more of the possession and a number of corners, there were few outright chances being created, though one corner from the right whipped in by Matty Neale ended with the ball falling agonisingly past the post and Cocklin and the Portland keeper colliding with each other and the post leading to a short delay. The left flank was providing more punch with Beasley and Neale working a few openings without ever creating anything clear cut. However, it was a break from Portland and a well struck long range shot, dipping towards the net but for a fingertip save onto the bar from keeper Shane Murphy, which led to the 1st goal of the game after 18 minutes. The resulting corner was taken short and a lapse in concentration from Hamworthy enabled the home team to put in a fine cross to the far post met by a firm header past Murphy for Portland to take the lead. Deja-vu from Saturday! Another quarter of an hour of toil followed from the Hammers who had to wait until the 36th minute for some quality play with Eddie Hodge releasing Neale down the left wing who cut in and cut back for Dan Cann to finish well from around the penalty spot.
The 2nd half started with Hamworthy looking to stamp their authority upon the game and with the breeze at their backs, started to press more and more looking for a breakthrough. Although Murphy in the Hammers goal only had to deal with a few long range efforts in the half, the Portland keeper wasn't actually tested much himself bar a good save from a downward header from Cann, to the growing frustration of the Hammers team and management. The quality of play in the final third wasn't up to the normal standard with overhit and wayward passes creeping more and more into their attacking play as Portland retreated trying to eat up time. It was Portland who came close to snatching a winner after a free kick was blocked by the Hammers' wall, a shot flew not far over the bar, a warning to Hamworthy that even a point wasn't necessarily guaranteed at this point. Shortly before 90 minutes were up Cocklin was sin-binned for comments made to the referee and left the 10 men to press forward to try and get something from the game. Young substitutes Munn and Ward had been introduced in the final quarter with Ward making a great last ditch tackle to prevent Portland getting through one on one with Murphy and it was Cam Munn in added time who slotted a through ball nicely into the path of Dan Cann who got there ahead of the advancing Portland keeper to poke it past him and then side foot into an empty net from just inside the box. Jubilant celebrations followed from the Hamworthy management, the relief and release of the frustration which had grown throughout the match was evident to all at the ground!
It was practically the last action of the match and Hamworthy had won 'ugly', a trait needed if the team have title aspirations this season, though one feels that performances need to return to the standard of the Baffins games to overcome their next hosts, Fleet Town. Perhaps the amount of games is starting to take it's toll? it's going to be a long intense season!
Hamworthy lineup: Murphy, Randall, Cocklin, Costello, Rolls, Beasley (Munn), Francis, Filkins (Ward), Hodge, Neale, Cann
Unused sub: Chilman