Sydenhams Premier League (Saturday 31st August 2019)
Hamworthy United: S Jones, J Filkins (D Dwyer 80), R Watkins, H Cooper, D Randall (c), T Rolls, E Hodge, H White (B Randall 65), C Beard, M Steer (O Davis 65), A Pope
Unused Subs: C Senior
After their recent FA Cup disappointment, the Hammers were hoping to extend their perfect league start, and make four straight wins. However, their long trip to Five Heads Park would possibly be their hardest test yet. The Deans, although not yet firing on all cylinders in the league, finished a clear second place to runaway leaders Sholing last term.The home side also had their sloping pitch which they know how to play very much to their advantage. United were still missing a few regular first-choice players, but welcomed back Jamie Filkins and Matt Steer to the starting eleven with Ollie Davis on the bench.
The hosts, kicking down the slope, took an early lead on three minutes. With the Hamworthy defence appearing to ball-watch, a cross from the right by Mark Smith picked out Miles Everett a few yards out from the far post. Everett's shot was well blocked by the outstretched leg of Tony Rolls, but Bobby Scott made no mistake from the re-bound with virtually the whole goal to aim at. In the 10th minute United had keeper Sam Jones to thank for keeping out a powerful near post header by Scott, with the hosts twice this time unable to convert the rebound. The Deans continued to make the early impact, consistently beating United in the air and looking stronger in midfield. The Hammers, heavy in numbers at the back, were also prone to give away needless free-kicks.
Towards the middle of the half Hamworthy at last started to pick up momentum. However off-target finishing from Harrison White and Ash Pope meant they were unable to match their corresponding approach play. In the 27th minute a sudden rasping long distance strike by Eddie Hodge cleared the bar by only a few inches. This was undoubtedly the Hammers' best effort so far. Cameron Beard then found himself in an excellent position following some gutsy work by White and Hodge across the edge of the penalty area. The United man however could only fire straight into the raised hands of home stopper Kieran Magee. Jones at the other end did well to clasp onto a dangerous high cross from Josh McCormick. The Hammers were still at the races at half time, but they would certainly need to tighten up against a physical (but fair) Horndean side, and to start converting some of their own chances.
It was however the Deans who re-emerged the stronger, seemingly happier kicking up the slope. They soon doubled their lead on 54 minutes when Ash Howe's corner was met by a bullet header by the unmarked Dan Sackman. Three minutes later Horndean gave themselves clear daylight with a third strike. A long cross from the right by Mark Smith found Everett. He rounded Jones before squaring the ball back to Bobby Scott, who blasted it into the back of the net to complete his brace. The rather flattering lead for the hosts now galvanised the Hammers, but again their finishing was consistently poor.
Substitute Ollie Davis could only ram the ball against a defender from two yards out, after Magee had dropped a simple cross right in front of him. The jittery keeper then fumbled a Declan Randall header, but again United were unable to pounce. After making good ground Hodge then just failed to connect with a cross right in front of the goal. In the 85th minute Jones did well to touch a free kick from Scott onto and over the bar, but this only punctuated the United pressure.
The Hammers' best chance came when Hodge laid the ball on superbly to Pope just wide of goal. Unfortunately he hurried his shot and put it well over the bar, when a ball to the back stick may have been a better option. Hamworthy deserved credit for not giving up the fight, but too many players seemed to have an off day. The main difference was that the Deans took their chances United didn’t. Hamworthy now drop to third, but so early in the season and with key players missing there is ample opportunity for Alan Lay and his team to put things right.