Final day draw
Combined Counties Division One
Westfield finished off their league season with a visit to last year’s champions Worcester Park, hoping for revenge for defeat at Woking Park earlier in the season. Manager John Comer was forced into 2 changes from the previous week’s up exploits with Mike Brawley and Ricky Hogsden returning in place of Nick McGregor and Damian Panter respectively whilst Daryn Hennessy and Rob Jones joined Jamie Doble on the bench.
With Westfield defending the not insignificant slope, as well as a prolific breeze, in the first half it was the home side who started much the brighter and immediately had Westfield on the back foot. The first chance of the afternoon fell to the home side when their dangerous right winger broke to the Field touch line and drilled the ball across goal. The sprawling Brawley was able to get a solid connection on the ball which released Adam Harding to stride out of defence.
This early warning was one which Westfield failed to heed and again moments later Worcester Park were able to escape down their right and whip the ball across the 6 yard line. This time Edwards had made great ground up however his attempted clearance jerked sharply towards goal and Brawley got down sharply to make a nice one handed save.
Field started to get a foothold in the game from an attacking sense however were let down too often by a poor final ball into the box. The visitors managed to create one clear chance when a deep cross from the left was met by an excellent Shane Cheeseman run and the home keeper was forced into a smart block from a tight angle. This aside though Westfield were guilty of being profligate in possession, attempting to force extravagant long passes, or having heavy touches, with team mates better positioned.
The hosts continued to press with the spring heeled forward belying his short stature by causing danger in the air and forcing Brawley to cling on to a header from close quarters. The breakthrough was looking imminent for Park however when it did arrive it owed, in no small part, to a large slice of luck. Mark Tyler blocked a shot from the edge of the area which ricocheted to into the path of a Park forward and as Brawley flung himself in front of the advancing forward Edwards made a heroic block which only contrived to cannon the ball into the Park captain, past the prone Brawley, and back towards the Field goal. Edwards desperately tried to recover and clear however the ball, somewhat bizarrely, appeared to speed up in the beach like conditions and continue over the line.
Westfield managed to respond well to this set back and the combative skipper Lee Allum continued to drive his troops forward. Unfortunately the sloppiness for the visitors continued preventing them capitalising on the toiling efforts of Hegarty and his fellow forwards.
As the half approached the final chance fell to the Worcester Park captain, previously shackled excellently, who unleashed a dipping volley towards the Field goal and Brawley dived to his left to push the ball out of the sand and to safety. As the half time whistle blew Westfield knew they had a lot of improving to do with regards their quality in possession however also aware they had largely weathered the ‘difficult’ end to defend and optimistic they could overturn the deficit.
Westfield began the second half by bringing on Hennessy for Scott O’Connor who was complaining of a tight hamstring, moving Wright into the middle to join the excellent Allum, and putting Hennessy on the left. It was clear from the start that this was going to be a vastly different half as Westfield immediately went on to the front foot and began getting a better quality of ball into the box.
Westfield’s first chance of the half fell when Allum received the ball tight on the touch line and drilled the ball across the Park goal. Unfortunately the ball evaded a myriad of Field forwards and the ball rifled across the box for a Park through in.
Despite the increased possession Westfield were enjoying Park were still very dangerous on the break, especially from deliveries by their talented captain, and twice Brawley was needed to be quick off his line, narrow the angle, and block at the feet of the hosts’ forwards. Worcester Park were also very dangerous from set pieces with the big substitute forward causing danger in the Field box and a couple of goal area scrambles.
When the equaliser came it was a typical piece of Hogsden opportunism, reacting first to a Wright flick on, getting himself between the defender and the ball, and calmly slotting the ball past the advancing keeper. Once this went in visitors were in buoyant mood and believed there was only going to be one winner from there on.
Whilst Worcester Park were still causing a threat on the break the closest either side came to a winner was when Cheeseman got himself on the end of a ball into the box but at full stretch could only turn the ball onto the post and into the grateful clutches of the Park keeper.
One moment of controversy came when the ball was put out of play in the Field half by Worcester Park for treatment to one of their players and when Hennessy hammered the ball back, from his own half, towards the Park goal for them to reclaim possession some of the home side, in particular the number 8, took umbrage with how close the ball got to challenging their keeper and a small melee ensued in the middle of the pitch. This was soon calmed by the referee however the 8 continued to moan for a few minutes after and was promptly booked for his troubles.
The afternoon soon turned worse for the angry 8 who was booked again soon after for a vengeful lunge at Hennessy, and received his marching orders.
The game soon finished without further incident of note, the 10 men coming too late for Westfield to make good use of the advantage, with both sides probably thinking they could have won, but with the draw as a fair result.