AFC Portchester 3 Hamworthy United 1
Sydenhams Premier League (Saturday 13th January 2018)
In-form United arrived at the Blanchard Wells Stadium looking for three points against one of their rivals for a third placed League finish. The remarkably similar orange v yellow kit (both in black shorts) would not have impressed the officials, but at least it brightened up a dismally cold afternoon. United's squad which is strong in depth these days had previously established players missing out, or starting on the bench. Manager Brendon King however had opted for the same starting eleven as last week.
The difficult uneven pitch did not do justice to the excellent club facilities, with the hosts adapting better in a scrappy opening with few chances. Portchester’s Steve Ramsey tested Nick Jones on the quarter hour, before Jake Morgan fired well over the bar. The Royals grabbed the lead in the 28th minute. The United defenders were caught off guard by a quick break after having defended a free kick. Joe Bye had time and space to measure a fine cross into the path of the unmarked Steve Ramsey. His powerful header found the net past the leaping Nick Jones. It wasn't until 35 minutes that the Hammers were able to trouble Lewis Noice in the Portchester goal. He did very well to hold a bobbling shot across his goal from Carl Preston, following good work by Chris Clarke and Darren Watts. Ramsey for the hosts saw his powerful cross shot finish just wide after a good build up. Nathan Walker then headed Carl Preston's corner just over the bar to signify that United were still very much at the races at the half time whistle.
Both teams moved up a gear after the break, but the second goal was to fall to the hosts seven minutes after the restart. Bobby Scott delivered a cross from the left into a crowded goal mouth, with Jake Morgan getting the decisive touch and head the ball home off the underside of the bar.
An inspired substitution by Brendon King helped United reduce the arrears on 63 minutes. New signing Jamie Beasley nodded in Darren Watts' long cross, with keeper Noice static. Remarkably, all three goals so far had resulted from headed-in crosses. A minute later, Beasley's involvement almost leveled matters. His cross from the bye-line just eluded the head of Dan Cann who was positioned just in front of goal. With the Hammers pushing bodies forward looking for an equalizer, the hosts wrapped the game up with a counter on 87 minutes. United gave the ball away cheaply on the half way line to Brandon Miller. He still had plenty of work to do as he ran the ball into the penalty area with defenders chasing back. Nick Jones came off his line well, and forced him wide, but the Royals' man still managed to find the net from a tight angle. The final score was a little harsh on the Hammers, who showed good character to get back into the game from two goals down. In previous recent meetings between the clubs the Royals' stronger physical presence and fitness had been apparent, but in no way could be that be said today, the hosts simply being that little bit more clinical with their finishing.
Hamworthy United: N Jones, S Clarke, C Clarke, E Hodge (S Smith 75), N Walker (c), B Walker, J Gleeson, M Buckler (J Filkins 80), D Watts, D Cann, C Preston (J Beasley 60)