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REPORT: Hamworthy United 2-2 AFC Stoneham

Sydenhams Premier League (Tuesday 19th November 2019)

Hamworthy United: S Cooper, D Randall, T Cooper, H Cooper, C Cocklin, A Costello, O Davis (J King 75),

L Francis (c), H White (J Filkins 80), D Cann (L Coulson 85) , A Pope

Unused Subs: R Watkins, B Randall

Goals: White, Pope

The Eastleigh based visitors were in good form, and were sitting in a creditable 9th place in the table in this their inaugural season of Wessex Premier football, having been promoted as Wessex One champions last term. This was Stoneham's second visit to the Specsavers. A late rally saw United overcome the Purples 5-2 in an early round FA Vase encounter in September 2017. With a few of the normal first team choices being unavailable, the mid-table Hammers were able to utilize their large squad, with a new signing from Poppies Louie Coulson who started on the bench.

Although the visitors were able to muster two early off target shots in an even, but uninspiring opening, it was United who broke the deadlock after 16 minutes with a very well worked goal. Ollie Davis showed great determination to keep hold of the ball as he cut in from the right. He passed the ball to the feet of Dan Cann, whose deft layback set up a superb strike by Harrison White which found the top left hand corner of the net. Chances remained few and far between, but it was Hamworthy who just edged the possession, and doubled their lead on 35 minutes. After another assist by Cann, Ash Pope weaved his way in from the left. He went past a couple of defenders before his clinical finish found the bottom far corner of the net. Another Stoneham effort finished well clear of the bar, making sure Shane Cooper had still not had to make a save before half time. The Hammers however had managed to convert their only two real chances in some style, making them favourites at this stage of the game.

Hamworthy were quickest out of the blocks after the restart. A typical low Ollie Davis cross was well snuffed out by Stoneham keeper Tom Parker-Trott. Although United continued to have the majority of the possession, they were now defending deeper, and were starting to lose their shape in midfield. They were also prone at times to giving away the ball too cheaply. The alarm bells should have started ringing on 65 minutes. Stoneham man Edu Jiminez rifled the ball onto and over the bar from distance. Had it gone in a goal would not have stood anyway due to an offside flag. A Purples' goal however now looked ominous, and it came 5 minutes later, a classic case of deja vu for the hosts. In a Hammers' build-up from defence, a ball right across the pitch was intercepted by Mat Bainbridge. The Stoneham man fed the ball forward to Callum Laycock in space on the far right. He powered forward before tucking the ball home to the right hand side of the exposed Shane Cooper.

The Hammers should have restored their two goal cushion almost straight away. Cann almost completed a hat trick of assists when he set up a glorious opening for Pope. Unfortunately he chose to jink his way into the six yard box, and walk the ball around Parker-Trott. The keeper was now able to wrest the ball from his feet, whereas an earlier hit might have been a better option.

It was no surprise though when the visitors completed the recovery on 75 minutes. Laycock picked out Edu Jimenez whose stunning 25 yard strike clipped the bottom of the bar before going in, giving Cooper no chance to save. In fact the Purples could even have won it in the final minute.

A free kick was awarded on the right edge of the penalty area, the Assistant Referee having evidently spotted a United arm around a neck, Cooper distinguished himself by saving a point-blank header, before Declan Randall and Lee Francis bravely defended with their bodies the two follow up strikes. Apart from four well taken goals this was a disappointing game with not a great deal of attacking football being played by either side. Stoneham can take credit for coming back from two goals down. In the last game although they lost the Hammers played well, and could and should have won both these games, but they most stop conceding poor goals.

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