Sydenhams Premier League (Saturday 16th November 2019)
Hamworthy United: S Cooper, D Randall, J Gleeson, H Cooper (H White 80), C Cocklin, A Costello, O Davis (A Pope 70), L Francis (c), E Hodge (J King 80), D Cann, F Saadi
Unused Subs: T Cooper, J Filkins
Goals: Eddie Hodge
The Portsmouth based visitors are now in their fourth season of Wessex Premier Football, and have always proved tough opposition for Hamworthy. Nothing different was expected today, with both teams in good form with the Rovers lying four places and three points above the Hammers, in third position. United welcomed back two players from last season, Adam Costello starting for the injured Tony Rolls with James King on the bench.
In an end-to-end opening, Baffins’ captain Jamie White headed Robbie Taw’s corner straight into the hands of Shane Cooper. The Hammers responded quickly, but Lee Francis’s simple header from Fawzi Saadi’s corner was cleared off the line.
Home keeper Cooper then timed his run well to clear the ball just ahead the advancing Callum Dart. Eddie Hodge, set up by Saadi, saw his low shot gathered by Baffins’ keeper Cameron Scott at the second attempt. It was United who opened the scoring on 15 minutes. Apparent confusion between Baffins’ man Brandon Miller and his keeper Scott was seized on by Eddie Hodge. He took the ball on a few paces before his low well placed shot found the far corner of the net. The visitors were however back on level terms six minutes later.
They won a foul some ten yards back from the penalty area, after Harry Cooper’s illegal use of the arm as he fought for possession with Robbie Taw. Taw himself delivered a teasing high free kick diagonally into the box, which was allowed to bounce.
No United defender had picked up the run of Brandon Miller who, after drawing the keeper, fired decisively into the corner of the net. Both teams continued to create good chances. Francis just failed to connect with a low Ollie Davis ball across the goal before it was cleared for a corner. At the other end, a pinpoint cross from Dale Mason was headed against the post and into touch by Dart.
A few minutes before the interval a trademark free kick by Saadi was pushed out and away by the diving Scott. His opposite number Cooper then used his legs well to deny Taw let through on goal after a defensive slip.
It was the Hammers who were setting the tone in the early stages after the restart. An Adam Costello header from Saadi’s corner hit the outstretched arm of the keeper before rebounding back off the bar; Francis then saw his follow up well saved. Soon after, a treble chance fell to the Hammers when somehow the ball could not find the net.
After a neat build up, Davis sent in a good cross from the right, but Cann, Hodge and Saadi in turn could not get a decent connection before the ball was finally cleared for a corner. Hodge, after good work by Saadi and Cann, saw his effort saved by the legs of Scott, who then did well to divert substitute Ash Pope’s low shot around the post. Baffins though were always a potential threat on the break. They should have taken the lead when after some slack defending, Cooper’s parry to Dart’s effort, set up a simple tap-in for Charlie Williamson. However the Rovers’ substitute could only belt the ball into the grounds of the neighbouring school.
On 75 minutes United did succumb to a sucker punch. The Hammers again gave the ball away cheaply trying to play it out of defence. This allowed White to find Tommy Scott in space. He cut in well before his low shot this time did find its way into the net past Cooper.
The Hammers gave it all in the last 15 minutes, but the visiting defence held out until the final whistle. United’s best chance fell to Connor Cocklin who headed a fine ball from Saadi just wide of the post. In the final analysis, two very good teams were well matched. United will be rueing their many missed chances, while, on the other hand, the visitors were twice able to exploit some hesitancy and a lack of sharpness to take theirs..