Sydenhams League Cup 2nd Round (Saturday 12th October 2019)
O King, J Filkins, D Dwyer, H Cooper, C Cocklin (O Davis 40), T Rolls (c), A Pope (C Beard 80), H White (C Munn 80), E Hodge, D Cann, B Randall
Unused Subs: S Cooper, L Francis
Goals: White (2), Cann
The Hammers were playing on unfamiliar territory albeit on their own Ground. Due to a now repaired damaged floodlight lamp, it has not seen a home League game since August 10th.
Since then apart from the first few games the results have not been good. That is until new Manger Tim Sills fine winning start made at Tadley last week. That poor run included a five goal thrashing by the then, and still now League Leaders Alresford Town three weeks ago. This game therefore could not have been a tougher one. However because this was a league cup game, Tim Sills decided to use this game as an opportunity to experiment with his squad.
United adapted better to the constant heavy downpour, and deservedly drew first blood on 11 minutes. Brandon Randall swept the ball out to Dan Cann on the left, and his well placed ball across the danger area should have been cleared by Mike Gosney. However the Magpies' man was dispossessed by Eddie Hodge, and his short accurate pass was clinically finished by Harrison White. Seven minutes later Hodge combined well with Randall before another pinpoint cross found Dan Cann.
His powerful header found its way just inside the far post to double the United lead. The Magpies stunned the Hammers with a remarkable goal in the 27th minute. Duarte Martins' 30 yard volley screamed through the air before dipping into the top right corner of the net. Ollie King, making his home debut between the sticks, had no hope of saving that one. The visitors were ominously improving towards the break, and started to find holes in the United defence. This was not helped by Connor Cocklin sadly having to go off on 40 minutes following a last ditch tackle with a recurrence of his hamstring problem. The Hammers knew there was still a lot of hard work to be done in the second half to protect their slender lead, in which tactics would also play an important part.
It was the Town who applied the early second half pressure, levelling matters on 50 minutes. If their first goal was pure class, their second was quite avoidable. Hamworthy again as they had done throughout the match, pushed too many players up for a corner, leaving just two against two at the back. This time Alresford made them pay. Following a quick break, Duarte Martins was found in acres of space by Jamie Johnson's through ball, and his first time shot found the net just inside the right post for his second goal.
The Hammers though still had fire in their belly, and regained the lead on 64 minutes. Harrison White now completed his own brace, ramming a loose ball home into the bottom corner following a good build up. However, it was all to be in vain, with Town notching up two quick goals, the first in the 75th minute. Hesitation at the back at the back led to Craig Harding finding the net from close range. The same player then scored his second, with the hosts again being caught out at the back following a long throw. United still had time to find a way back and they did give it their all.
However their chances became that much slimmer when Cann was sent to the sin bin for dissent on 85 minutes. One had to feel a little bit of sympathy for the United danger man, who had been subjected to frequent nudges in the back that was not picked up by the officials. To add insult to injury, an apparent clear push in the back on substitute Cam Munn in the final minute of play again brought no whistle for what seemed an obvious penalty. The Town therefore held on for the narrow win, but knew it had been a much tougher battle than the recent fixture at Arlebury Park.
The game had numerous chances at both ends, and both keepers despite the final score, made a number of very good saves. Although United's defending at times was not of the best, they can still take out a lot more positives than negatives, and could certainly have done with a little more help from the men in black.