Sydenhams Wessex Premier League
(Sunday 22nd February 2020)
Hamworthy were looking for three points in their challenge for a top half finish. The Yachtsmen also needed the points, caught in yet another relegation battle. However, Cowes' recent results suggested that they do not give in without a fight, and indeed Hamworthy's 5-2 win in the reverse fixture in November was a much closer affair than the score suggested.
Although United started the better, it was Cowes who opened the scoring on 9 minutes. As Hamworthy pushed up Tom Rees was left exposed when Cowes countered. He took a bit of a gamble by rushing out of his penalty area in the hope of reaching a long clearance before Sport’s Ji Nash who had been left unmarked. It was however Nash who got the vital first touch. He still had work to do to score, but he did it very well. He turned and found the empty net from a difficult angle from some 25 yards out. Both teams had chances before, in the 23rd minute, a clever through ball by Tom Cooper was met by James King. The United striker slotted it eloquently into the net past Hatt, but the line official had flagged for offside.
A minute later came some interesting drama. The referee initially showed a red card to Declan Randall who was clearly holding back Gareth Bricknell in the box as last man. However, after reflection and discussion with his assistant, the referee felt that Declan had, at least initially, got something on the ball. Applying his interpretation of the current rules, he rescinded the red card and issued a caution instead. United's relief was further enhanced when Ewan Cranwell's penalty, low to his right, was pushed wide by the diving Rees before the ball was cleared.
The first half ended in a remarkable flourish of activity. In The 44th minute Nash was put through with the goal at his mercy, but somehow blazed over the United bar from five yards. Play then switched to the other end with King slamming into the net Beasley's cross at the far post, but for the second time saw a "goal" of his ruled out for offside. The Hammers did at last manage a valid goal in first half injury time. Beasley again played the ball out to King on the right, whose first time ball to the far edge of the penalty area was hit hard and high into the net by Connor Cocklin. The half time score was probably a fair one, with both teams creating two or three good chances in addition to their goal. The Hammers however feeling more than aggrieved about some of the decisions given against them, let their normally high standards of behaviour slip (they had until this game one of the best disciplinary records in the league), but they had incurred two sin bin visits in the first half.
The second half remained very even, until the Hammers managed to find a way through on 80 minutes. Beasley showed great determination to plunder his way past a succession of Cowes' players before laying the ball wide to Eddie Hodge on the left. Hodge's pinpoint low cross took out a couple of the Sports' defenders and found substitute Louie Coulson in space. He duly tucked the ball home from close range. That goal finally opened up play, but on 87 minutes the referee spotted an infringement on Jared Wetherick, and awarded Cowes a second penalty. This time Ewan Cranwell sent Rees the wrong way to level the score.
The never say die Hammers though were soon back in front; two minutes into injury time. A precise through ball by Tony Rolls found Eddie Hodge closing in on goal, and beating Hatt with a low crisp shot. This time there was no way back for the Yachtsmen, even after Hamworthy were reduced to ten men when Coulson was rightly shown a red card for using inappropriate language.
Whilst United took their chances better and deserve credit for never giving up even when decisions appeared to be going against them. Cowes will also feel they deserved something from the game, but apart from their first goal and their penalties they never really bothered keeper Rees. The Hammers on the other hand found the net 5 times albeit twice being given offside.
Hammers : T Rees, T Cooper, D Randall, J Gleeson, A Costello, T Rolls, J King (C Munn 80), L Francis (c), C Cocklin (L Coulson 60), E Hodge, J Beasley.
Unused Subs : T Sills Goals: Cocklin, Coulsen, Hodge