Hamlet 1 Leiston 2
It was a game the Hamlet should never have lost, although you to have to credit Leiston for an incredibly hardwroking and committed performance. The visitors defended in depth, and defended just a bit tighter than we did, and ultimately punished us by taking their only two really clear scoring chances of the night.
The first half was especially one-sided, tsaking place almost entirely in the Leiston half, but they took an early lead by catching us out on the break to score the first goal we've conceded in open play (excluding minor cup ties when many regulars were rested) since visiting Maidstone on 15 November. Hamlet repeatedly probed the massed defensive ranks ahead of them with a series of slick passing moves and testing crosses, but Leiston rode their luck as the ball ran kindly for them when a number of desp[erate clearances and interceptions could easily have seen the ball fall favourably for a lurking Hamlet man to slam into the net. Eventually, with around five minutes until half time, Vidal very much did slam the ball into the net, beating the keeper all ends up with an awesome 25 yard drive that flew into the corner; a slight deflection made little difference escept perhaps to take a layer of skin off the defender concerned!
Going in level at half time with the initiative, having fought back from conceding the first goal, is a position we often seem to find ourselves in at home, and we normally move smoothly into a higher gear to complete the victory. I get the feeling Gavin Rose must be particularly adept at pressing the right buttons during his half time team talk, and it's a while since we conceded an early goal after the break. But that's what happened this time when a corner was all too easily headed in at the near post around ten minutes in, and we just didn't seem to have a response. For the next twenty minutes or so there was no real rhythm or urgency to our attacking play and Leiston looked comfortable holding us at bay. It didn't help that we were repeatedly caught offside throughout the match as our opponents condensed the play by defending high up the pitch whenever they could. It was only in the final ten minutes or so that we managed to rouse urselves to put them under real pressure, but the best efforts were a cross shot from the impressive and dangerous Wanadio and a looping header form Ottaway, both of which narrowly missed the target.
Team (4-2-3-1): Wilson - Hibbert, Forbes(c), Pinnock, Shaw - Carew, Dixon - Wanadio, Vidal, Clunis - Ottaway.
Subs: James (for Dixon), Jarrett (for Hibbert), Kamara, Samuels, Maan (not used).