Sydenhams Wessex League Premier Division (Wednesday 19-03-06)
With AFC Totton dropping points to the Hammers at home recently, and the need for them to keep winning in their bid to stay top of the league, there was no doubt that this was going to be a very hard game. That is how it turned out to be, with the Hammers once again stepping up to the mark, and competing against a very talented and experienced side. Hamworthy were without both of their talented young full-backs, Matt Grimason, who pulled out of the squad through injury, and Joe Byrne who was unavailable. However, Phil Simkin is showing faith in younger players, as Greg Horlock, former Under 18’s captain, played against Totton for the second time this year, and the bench consisted of four current youth players.
The match started brightly, with AFC Totton having a lot of possession, passing the ball around briskly. The first real moment of danger came early on, when Totton broke down the right hand side. A low cross into the 6 yard box avoided Hammers keeper, Martin Peters, but was slid away by Nathan Walker to safety. AFC Totton front man, Mark Osman looked a constant threat with his pace and ball control. Midway through the first half he collected the ball just inside the Hammer’s half, and ran directly towards goal with the ball at his feet. Greg Horwood could not tackle in case of a penalty, but great speed and strength from both Nathan Walker, and Steve Gilbert took the ball out for a corner.
The Hammers kept their shape and a Steve Legg pass found Lee Thomas. Only a touch was needed by Thomas to flick the ball past the defender, to give a free run in on goal. The defender, Matt Jones, realised that he was beaten, and fouled Thomas. This resulted in a yellow cared being shown to the Totton man, followed by a red for a second bookable offence. The Hammers were unable to make anything of the resultant free kick unfortunately. The half time break came, with the score remaining at 0 – 0.
The second half started with Carl Mutch hitting a post in the first Hammers attack, with the rebound going straight to the keeper. The Hammers exerted plenty of pressure early on. Lee Thomas struggled to control the ball when put through one on one with the keeper, and the Totton defence was able to clear. A Mickey Hubbard corner, found a thunderous header from Ryan Dovell that hit the target from 6 yards out. Gareth Barfoot, made a great save to keep the scores level. The Stags started to get more control in the latter part of the game. Martin Peters kept United in the game before Mickey Hubbard headed off the Hammers line to keep the score level. You could feel the tension building up in the AFC Totton camp, as they were becoming frustrated in their effort to win the game. The goal eventually came down the right hand side, when the Hammers lost possession. A quick ball in found an unmarked Gareth Byrne who headed in from close range. Despite the efforts from United up to that point, the Totton goal remained intact. In the last minute of the game Phil Simkin sent everybody forward to try and level the match. A quick break out followed when the very athletic Osman was matched against Greg Horlock in a sprint to the Hammers goal. The Totton man won the race and scored to give his team a 2-0 win.
This was a very entertaining game and a credit to the Sydenhams Wessex League.
Team: M.Peters, S. Gilbert, R. Dovell, G. Horlock, N. Walker, R. Middleton, S. Legg, M. Hubbard, C. Mutch, L. Thomas, R. Jackson. Unused Subs: M. Glavin, C. Khinder, J. Reavenall-Nuete, J. Crossin, P. Hedges.