SOUTH COAST FOOTBALL ROUND UP (WEEK FIVE)
The turn of the month saw a large break in league action across the south coast – England’s top two tiers had been interrupted by the international break, whilst the FA Cup was picking up a bit of steam, as sides from Step 3 of the non-league pyramid entered the competition.
Hamworthy United have already won two games in this year’s edition of the historic cup, alongside their flying start to the new Wessex League season.
Their strong start sees them sit 3rd with five wins and a draw, but they couldn’t match their strong start with their efforts in the early stages of the game.
Thatcham Town were the visitors, and for the first twenty minutes or so, dominated possession.
Whilst the away side didn’t generate many chances, the Hammers were struggling to get out of their defensive areas.
A rare foray forward saw captain Nathan Walker get enough behind a header to beat the opposition keeper – only for a well-timed sliding block to take the ball off the goal-line and out of danger.
As the game progressed it became clearer that the away side were in the ascendency, and it wasn’t long before the Berkshire side took the lead. Some smart link-up play teed up Josh Helmore in the box, allowing the striker to slot home.
The goal did not spark any immediate revival from the Hammers, as they allowed their guests to control proceedings for the remainder of the first half. Again, in the second half there was no instant change from a half-time talk, as Thatcham carved upon the hosts for a second time to double their lead.
Hamworthy seemingly learnt nothing as it took Thatcham only a few minutes more to kill the game off. A simple cutback to Shane Cooper-Clarke across the face of goal found the attacker in ample space to stab at the ball – sending it careering into the post, before receiving the good fortune of a kind bounce, allowing him to make it three on the rebound.
From there the Hammers threw caution to the wind, chucking Walker up-top. This only served to leave the hosts further exposed at the back, as Thatcham grabbed another two goals sandwiched between a late Hammers consolation goal to finish the match 5-1 winners.
Speaking to Chairman Steve Harvey after the game, there was not too much disappointment, as his club looks to focus on their league campaign. Recent improvements around the pitch now ensure that if Hamworthy maintain their league form and end up in the promotion picture, they could compete in the Southern League.
Elsewhere in the Cup, Salisbury visited Farnborough to endure a tight encounter. A positive start for the Whites saw them take the lead via Lewis Benson. Salisbury couldn’t make more of their early domination, as a goal shortly before half time restored parity amongst the teams. A mix-up between keeper Charlie Searle and his defenders saw them gift Farnborough a second.
But the Whites rallied, as Rhys Baggridge headed home from Marvin Brook’s rebound. A Flávio Tavares screamer from 25 yards was the difference between the two sides, which means Salisbury win another FA Cup tie 3-2.
Winchester made the trip across to Somerset to battle with Paulton Rovers for a place in the next round. It was a close affair, as Paulton’s first half goal was the difference in a evenly contested match-up.
Moneyfields finally succumbed to their first defeat of the season when they travelled to Cinderford Town. A poor first half performance saw them go 2-0 down prior to the break, and whilst Steve Hutchings pulled one back with 24 minutes to go, Moneys couldn’t muster anything to fully comeback.
Gosport claimed their first win of the season over Western League Bridgewater Town. Chiendu Vine’s first half tap in was the difference in a rather drab match.
Dorchester’s woes continued, as the managerless Magpies fell to a shock 1-0 defeat at the hands of AFC Portchester in the FA Cup. After Monday’s derby drubbing at the hands of Ridgeway Rivals Weymouth, Craig Laird resigned from his role – leaving struggling Dorch searching for another manager just a month into the new campaign.
The Terras were in fine form as they blasted five past Odd Down, avoiding any potential banana skin of their own. A slender 1-0 lead was all Weymouth took from the first half, but a second during the second half put any nerves to bed. A quickfire treble in the last ten added gloss to the scoreline, which ended up as 5-0.
AFC Totton couldn’t overcome a tough task in the form of Frome Town. The Robins are an established Southern Premier League side, and it showed as they came back from 1-0 down, after Curtis Young capitalised on some poor defending. Unfortunately, the Stags couldn’t hold out, eventually losing 2-1.
Yeovil Town were the only south coast club in action in the top four leagues, but there was little to cheer about – or report on, as they slumped to a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Crawley Town.
In the National League, Eastleigh made the trip up to fellow big spenders Ebbsfleet, where the two sides shared the spoils in an entertaining draw. James Constable’s half volley gave the Spitfires the lead on 20 minutes, before the away side slipped, allowing Ebbsfleet to take the lead in the second-half. Some pinball in and around the box eventually saw the ball fall for Craig McCallister, allowing the Spitfire to let fly and equalise with 12 minutes to go.
In the league below, none of the south coast’s representatives tasted defeat – but there will be mixed feelings. Bognor Regis held league leaders Chelmsford to a draw, showcasing their resilience and ability, whilst Havant and Waterlooville jumped up to fourth with a comprehensive victory over Weston-super-Mare.
Poole Town’s new striker, Warren Bentley, scored on his debut to help his side race into a 2-0 lead away at Whitehawk, but Poole’s poor performances continued as they dropped two points in the second half, as the Hawks came back to restore parity.
2nd September 2017 - Jack Tanner; Andy Orman