Sydenhams Wessex Premier League
(Sunday 3rd March 2020)
Hamworthy were hoping to make it four straight league wins in a row, but with the Church challenging for the title, and unbeaten at home in this league campaign, the odds were against them.
However, it was perhaps of some comfort to United that Christchurch were not strictly at "home", the game being moved at short notice to nearby New Milton due to pitch concerns at Hurn Bridge. There has always been a lot of player movement between these two neighbouring clubs, with Christchurch boss Ollie Cherrett himself an ex-Hammer. United also welcomed back Crit Clark, starting on the bench after returning from Portland.
The first quarter hour was quite even, with no clear cut chances at either end. The Church then started to win more possession, and with it looked the more threatening. Their first real chance came on 24 minutes; Max Wilcock at the far post headed a long cross from Ron Frost just over the bar. Five minutes later, one of many long teasing throws by Frost was glanced against the bar, by Wilcock, before the ball was scrambled clear. The same player fired another good chance hard but wide Tom Cooper then did well to deflect Matt Neale's close range header out for a corner.
This had been an uninspiring first half, with neither goalkeeper yet to make an actual save, but certainly the omens were now favouring the hosts.
Christchurch carried on after the break where they had left off playing mostly the long ball game. An early Church free kick from just outside the area was rammed into the wall before the rebound was put just wide. The Hammers continued to defend resolutely. Their task though was made that bit harder when Jamie Beasley was sent to the sin bin midway through the half, rather unnecessarily as United had already been awarded the free kick. Five minutes later Christchurch’s Manny Ohameje's near post header from Kyle Graham's cross just cleared the bar. As so often happens in this sort of game, it was Hamworthy who finally broke the deadlock in the 83rd minute with a very quick and well worked move; and certainly the best bit of football in the game.
Substitute striker Jamie Filkins picked up the ball in his own half, before his sudden deft pass on the turn picked out the run of substitute Fawzi Saadi. Saadi then cleverly threaded the ball forward to the unmarked James King, who ran on to beat the Church stopper Lewis Gunstone-Gray with a cool shot from the edge of the area, that finished just inside the far right post. The hosts came back with some intent but United held firm. Deep into injury time it looked, at least to those watching from the side that Christchurch substitute Will Fletcher's grass-cutter from twelve yards had been misjudged by the keeper, and might just creep inside the post. Rees however had got his bearings dead right, and watched the ball pass just wide.
This had been a scrappy game not helped by a bumpy pitch, and one that the Hammers at the start would have been grateful to take even one point from. They worked hard, and had to do some dogged defending over the 90 minutes, against a Christchurch team who did themselves no favours by continually hitting long balls which on the whole were comfortably dealt with. Although Tom Rees was kept on his toes a lot of the time he never really had to make a difficult save the whole game. On the other hand Hamworthy won the game with the best build up and shot from either side in the entire game.
We now move up a place into seventh position in the table, albeit a little artificial having played more games than their rivals. They will also have a big say in who actually wins the league having to play four of the top six all at home.
Hammers : T Rees, T Cooper, D Randall, J Gleeson, A Costello, T Rolls, J King, L Francis (c), C Cocklin (J Filkins 45), C Munn (F Saadi 75), J Beasley (C Clark 80)
Unused Subs : T Sills Goals: King