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REPORT: POrtland 4 - 3 Hamworthy (FA CUP)

Emirates FA Cup Preliminary Round (Saturday 24th August 2019)

Eddie Hodge (Mirrorbox Studios)
Eddie Hodge in MOM display

Hamworthy United: S Jones, D Randall (c), R Watkins, H Cooper (D Dwyer 85) , C Cocklin, T Rolls, H White (A Pope 65), L Francis, C Beard, E Hodge, B Randall (J Filkins 75)

Hamworthy Goals: Francis, Hodge, Pope MOM: E. Hodge

The Hammers had made a perfect start in the League, and they must have fancied their chances at the Weyline Stadium. Their hosts surprisingly had picked up just two points from their first three league games. However cup football is all about what happens on the day, and Portland, with ex-Hammer chief Brendon King at the helm, and containing a sprinkling of ex-Hammers on the pitch, would no doubt be up for the fight. Hamworthy had a few normally first-choice players unavailable, but with their large in depth squad they still looked strong on paper.

Both sides created early chances, but it was the Hammers who opened the scoring on 13 minutes. Eddie Hodge picked up a diagonal ball from Harrison White just outside the penalty area. After first beating his marker Ed Bastick, and then rounding Luke King, he slotted the ball home superbly from the left, just inside the far post. The game continued to remain very open, with the home keeper being slightly the busier of the two, making some good blocks. However, around the half hour mark, Hodge and Brandon Randall swapped wings. The move however appeared to backfire, with the Hammers losing their shape a little. The hosts were now starting to look stronger and managed to level the score on 40 minutes. A low ball was played in by Bastick to ex-Hammer Max Buckler. His sweet first time strike from 20 yards just beat the dive of Sam Jones, before nestling in the bottom left hand corner of the net. Agonisingly for the Hammers some poor defending allowed the Blues to get their noses in front in first half stoppage time. No Hamworthy defender had picked up the darting through run of Jamie Symes who was having a fine game. He played a quick one-two with Josh Williams, and with no defender in sight, the Portland danger man’s shot again beat Jones to find the back of the net.

[Images provided by Trudy Lay]

It took only three minutes after the restart for the Hammers, now back to their original formation, to equalize. Man of the match Eddie Hodge's clever gamble to anticipate a back pass from King to his keeper Steve Boore paid off. When the back pass came, Hodge was onto the ball in a flash, rounding the goalkeeper, before running the ball into the back of the net. Again with the scores back level, both sides to their credit played for the win, but the pendulum was to swing back to the visitors on 68 minutes. After Cameron Beard won the ball just left of the penalty area, he laid it into Hodge, who in turn played it back to Lee Francis. Francis then stroked the ball wide to substitute Ash Pope who cut in before delivering a venomous low shot that ruffled the back of the net.

Hamworthy have generally this season got stronger in the second period, and must have felt the win was now in their pocket. However Portland had other ideas, levelling for a second time on 75 minutes, and again with not the best of defending by the visitors. With Portland outnumbering Hamworthy in the six yard box, a cross reached Ed Bastick whose acute angled shot could only be parried sideways by Jones. The ball looked to have already have crossed the goal-line before Bailey Rowe made sure, ramming the ball into the back of the net. With the Hamworthy still at times looking uncomfortable at the back, and the Blues just edging the midfield battle, the score moved back in favour of the hosts on 88 minutes, again with Hamworthy defending called into question. A Bastick free kick came in from the right, which Ryan McKechnie completely unchallenged, headed powerfully home.

This time there was no way back for Hamworthy, and indeed, with their players pushed up, the hosts almost added another in injury time. Possibly missing the influence of the experienced Jamie Gleeson at the back, and the strength of Matt Steer in midfield, the Hammers were never somehow able to reproduce their early season form. Portland probably just about deserved their success on the day in what was an entertaining and hard fought game. We wish them luck in the next round.

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