Take me Home

Chiddingfold   5   Hampton Harriers 4 (Friendly)

18th September 2005

‘This is Jamie’s cousin Tash. She’s come all the way from Australia.’ Andy G.

‘I’d better put him back on then …’ Manager

Another encouraging performance against a determined and physical opponent. Hampton Harriers dropped out of the West Surrey league two or three years ago and have been playing friendlies since (we’ve twice played and beaten them comfortably). They are now sufficiently well organised to rejoin a proper league and are certainly a different proposition now.

Nevertheless our chaps were well on top for most of the game (being 4-1 up at one point) and just need a little more time to gel as a team and get a shape and rhythm going.

The game was also notable for the début of newly qualified referee Mike O, who had a fine first game with quite a lot to do – he could easily have given us a penalty in the opening minutes of the game and Hampton weren’t exactly shrinking violets in the tackle.

We were a goal up in the first five minutes – an excellent early ball from Steve put ‘TK’ through and he pressurized the keeper into fumbling the ball for an easy goal. Joint Man of the Man Mike put in the first of a series of blinding saves shortly after, when poor defending gave Hampton a clear shot at goal but the boys battled away and gradually established dominance.

On twenty minutes new boy Tom D. made his entrance and instantly stood out for his touch, speed, courage and attitude – he never stopped working, never cheated and was always ready to encourage his team mates. He deservedly won joint Man of the Match.  

A few minutes later Hampton equalised after we failed to close them down in midfield but we were soon back in front when Scott  cheekily chipped the keeper off the back of his heel. Then TK made it 3-1 after a lovely Tom D through ball set off him and Dan; the two of them battled their way into the box, again the keeper fumbled and TK needed no second chance.

As was the case not long afterwards, when Dan bravely went for a 50:50 ball, was unceremoniously clattered by the keeper, who missed the ball completely and let it squirm past for Tom B to poke home.

The boys were clearly dominant now, with Hassie and Tom D running the midfield and combining well with Will, but still not quite firing on all cylinders. Individuals and groups of players were playing well, but we weren’t gelling as a team.

Next Hampton pulled one back with a long shot which sneaked just inside the post but soon Tom D put another magical ball through, for Scott to pressure his way through and into the net just before the interval, 5-2.

Not long into the second half and Hampton got their second goal with a terrifically struck free kick from the edge of the area. Unfortunately repeated exactly soon afterwards, 5-4. In fact the spectators thought they had equalised not long after that, were it not for the excellent linesman (W. Hosker) spotting an infringement.

Most of the second half was an uninspiring, very physical battle (Daryl bearing the brunt of some serious studding), illuminated by some terrific passing movements from our chaps and a series of courageous saves at feet from Mike in goal. Anthony and Reece played particularly well too, as did Theo, Kirk and captain Jon B in central defence.

Jamie put one especially wonderful long ball into the opposition half, from which Scott was very unlucky not to score and, right at the end, excellent movement between Jamie, Scott and Tom D tore apart the Hampton defence only for Tom to blaze over the bar. Looking good.