The result of this local derby was always going to be more important than the performance so it was highly gratifying that both aspirations were met at Honeycroft on Boxing Day. Manager Ray Duffy made a number of changes from the recent, encouraging narrow defeat against the league leaders, in the formation, in the personnel selected and in the positions to be played and the three points accrued totally justified his decisions.
The game started quietly, with the home side having the slight edge, but it burst into life after five minutes. A Charlie Mitchell corner, such a valuable source of goals for Hanwell this season, was knocked back out to him, enabling him to send the ball back into the danger zone. The cross was deflected towards Alfie Cain, who swivelled and fired the ball low into the net from just inside the area. On a day when his homophone was breaking records, Alfie’s goal was as well received by the Hanwell faithful as was Harry’s hat-trick by the Tottenham thousands at Wembley.
The early goal seemed to give Hanwell confidence and they looked the better team for the next period of the game although the home side posed a threat on the break, particularly through Dylan Kearney. In fact, with sixteen minutes played, Hanwell ‘keeper Sam Bunting did well to race out of his area to beat the aforementioned Kearney to the ball as he raced clear. Three minutes later Peter Dean, who seemed to be playing as a deep-lying or ‘false’ centre forward, sent Harvey Killeen through with a deft flick. Harvey outstripped the home defenders but had his shot parried by home ‘keeper Paul McCarthy. Unluckily for Hanwell the ball bounced in Uxbridge’s favour and McCarthy just beat Harvey to the ball.
The rest of an entertaining half saw the ball going from end to end with skipper Olly Duffy looking commanding, alongside Joe Chandiram, who went on to have an outstanding performance in a back-four line-up. While Harvey and Alfie were catching the eye in attacking mid-field situations, Luke Aifano was looking very assured in a more holding mid-field role. In addition Charlie and Mergin Qirri were providing available wide outlets as Hanwell went forward. However, with six minutes to go before half-time, the Reds gave Town a scare when Prince M’Bengui fired narrowly over following a corner. They threatened again five minutes later when Olly managed to block Kearney’s shot after the striker had been set up by Rhys Rabess. In the meantime Harvey had gone close for Hanwell from almost twenty-five yards.
Early in the second half Sam was caught late by already booked Dylan Kearney, who was fortunate not to receive a further punishment. The Hanwell custodian was then beaten on the hour mark. A headed clearance by Olly only went as far as Cole Brown who hit the ball into the bottom corner from a good twenty-five yards.
The setback, however, did not discourage the players as much as might have been feared and Town should have scored less than a minute later. Mergin played the ball to Harvey in the area. His header found Peter, alone, in the six yard box. He looked certain to score but McCarthy managed to block the shot and divert the ball behind. From the ensuing corner, taken from the right by Alfie, the ball was firmly met and headed in at the near post by Calum. That Hanwell had restored their advantage from a corner rather than open play seemed almost inevitable!
Three minutes later the Hanwell supporters breathed a sigh of relief as substitute Adam Mohammed could not rise quite high enough to meet a peach of a cross into him just eight yards from goal. It was then Uxbridge’s turn to be concerned. Charlie executed a mazy dribble before playing the ball low across the box, where it was missed by everyone. The ball was played back in and once again McCarthy saved brilliantly, this time from the marauding Calum.
As Hanwell pressed for the goal that would make the game safe, so the home side continued to press for an equalizer. There were worries for Town when an injured Calum needed to be replaced as there were no obvious defenders on the bench. However, Charlie went to right back where he performed very well for the remaining twelve minutes plus eight! On the other side of the two stalwart central defenders Mason Welch-Turner was adding another good performance to his Hanwell portfolio.
Well into added-on time Peter was substituted to warm applause after his battling performance, having been particularly successful in the air despite the defenders having both a height and numerical advantage.
The elongated time added on for injuries seemed to go on forever. Finally, with the Hanwell supporters in the stand pleading for the referee to check his timepiece and a singular member of the ‘Massive’ beating a supportive rhythm the corrugated tin roof behind the goal, the full-time whistle was finally blown. The Hanwell team had acquired a belated Christmas present of a valuable three points for all those connected with the club!
TEAM: 1.Sam Bunting 2.Calum Duffy (16.Elijah Seymour 78) 3.Mason Welch-Turner 4.Oliver Duffy © 5.Joe Chandiram 6.Luke Aifano 7.Mergin Qarri 8.Alfie Cain 9.Peter Dean (14.Simon Cocrhoran 90+4) 10.Harvey Killeen 11.Charlie Mitchell. Unused substitutes: 12.Jesse Kewley-Graham 15.Ned Clarke 17.Sam Pekun.