Sydenhams Wessex Premier League (Saturday 28th December 2019)
Hamworthy United: O King, T Cooper, F Saadi, J Gleeson, D Randall, A Costello, O Davis (C Cocklin 85),
L Francis (c), E Hodge, D Cann, J King (J Filkins 70)
Unused Subs: T. Sills, D. Madouat
Goals: Hodge (2), King
MOM: Eddie Hodge
The Hammers were hoping to build on their emphatic win last week against Solent University. Although well placed in the league, Portland’s home form of late has been inconsistent. However they had managed a 5-0 win over league leaders Alresford recently. This game was to be the third between the two Clubs this season. With two minutes remaining and a goal down in the FA Cup encounter at the Weyline Stadium in August, the Blues, somehow found two late goals to win the tie 4-3. The league game at Hamworthy finished 1-1 with the Hammers having a disputed last minute goal ruled out off-side.
Playing in slightly misty conditions, it was Hamworthy who applied the early pressure. Eddie Hodge headed a pinpoint looping cross by James King just over the bar. King himself then headed a simple chance just wide of the far post. Portland did counter briefly, and King now had to turn goal saver, by clearing Jamie Symes' header off the line from a corner. The Hammers soon had another scare when Beasley, chasing a bouncing ball, hit the deck just outside the area which ad resulted from keeper Ollie King’s challenge. Beasley himself, now fully recovered, took the free kick, but missed the far post by inches. More orthodox keeping by King followed, when he this time narrowed the angle before keeping out another effort by the clean through Beasley.
Hamworthy opened the scoring in the 25th minute. A long ball forward by Fawzi Saadi found Eddie Hodge in the middle of the Portland half. His first touch superbly deflected the ball over the defender behind him. Running on, his shot from the edge of the area had little on it, but was enough to take it past the keeper and into the net just inside the right post. The Hammers doubled their lead only a minute later. Hodge's ball across the penalty area was touched on by Dan Cann to set up a rasping close range finish into the net by Ollie Davis. The visitors then made it three goals in five minutes. Man of the match Eddie Hodge picked up a ball that had been headed out of defence, and struck a low shot into bottom left hand corner of the net from 15 yards. There was still time before the interval for Cann to fire just wide. King produced two more good saves; the first was from Beasley, before tipping over a Bailey Rowe header. Although the Blues had come more into game towards the interval, the Hammers still deserved their three goal advantage, having missed two sitters themselves. The main threat now was the game being called off due to the thickening of the notorious Portland fog,
Both teams strove to make the best of the testing elements after the break, but there were few chances. The Blues though began to get the upper hand, and managed to reduce the deficit on 60 minutes with a quite remarkable goal. Ben Morris dribbled the ball into the Hamworthy half, before trying his luck from 30 yards. The ball whistled into the top left corner of the net and would have beaten almost any goalkeeper, even in clear daylight. In a rare Hammers' counter attack, Blues' stopper Steve Boore did well to push wide an effort from Davis that had followed another good diagonal ball by Saadi.
The Hamworthy nerves were put to the test when Portland reduced the deficit to one on 80 minutes when Ed Bastick managed to head Ben Morris's corner in at the near post.
The hosts were now applying all the pressure, and substitute Ryan McKechnie had a golden chance to equalize in the closing minutes, but dragged his shot wide. The game got a bit heated in injury time, and in the last minute Hamworthy's Tom Cooper was sent off for a second yellow. He kicked the ball away, after having earlier being cautioned for a rash challenge on Beasley. However this time the Hammers did manage to hold onto their lead to win the game.
A quality first half and some dogged second half defending merited that win. Every man had played his part. Tim Sills' new tactics, in moving Jamie Gleeson to midfield and Fawzi Saadi back, is proving a great success. Dan Cann was able to see much more of the ball, allowing him to hold up play before laying it off to others. This was another fine team effort.
WATCH: TIMS SILLS'S POST MATCH INTERVIEW