Hampton 1 Hamlet 0
It's hard to describe this game without sounding bitter, and a sore loser. Personally i felt the result was effectively decided by the pitch, which was an absolute pudding and arguably unplayable. Twenty to thirty years ago you'd see several matches a season played on pitches like that. (You'd also see the same pitches in Spring resembling dustbowls, with all the grass down the middle battered out of existence and the sand used to dilute the worst of the mud now mixed with dried out soil.) I haven't seen a match on a pitch this bad for several years, and whilst I wouldn't personally have called it "unplayable", for the reasons already given, I'd forgotten just how much it can have a bearing on the result. Of course it's "the same for both sides" but it's equally obvious that sides who normally place a greater than average emphasis on technical skills and short passing are going to be more inconvenienced than the average side. If the same two teams had contested this game on a normal pitch I believe there's no way we'd have lost. I always thought the rule of thumb for calling a game off was if there was standing water on the surface, but the modern directive seems to be to call it off if significant areas of the pitch don't allow the ball to bounce or run; under those criteria it should have been off. Margate was off on the same day, and their pitch looked fine a week ago - I can't believe it was any worse than Hampton's by Saturday. There was a large area on one flank near the halfway line that resembled a ploughed field, and every time the ball was hit into this area it just plopped dead like a shot put. Before the kick off the Hampton team had undertaken some intensive warm-up routines in this area, and before the match even started it looked like two packs of rugby forwards had been scrummaging repeatedly.
I thought we actually played pretty well all things considered (apart from our obvious failure to convert any scoring chances!) and in terms of our approach and tactics couldn't really have done any more. It was almost impossible to run the ball at opponents in wide positions or to play our quick short-passing game in the final third. We did our best to get the ball into the box more quickly and directly than usual, we had shots at goal without overelaborating as we sometimes do, but we must still be just about the smallest and most physically lightweight side in the division, with only Dixon of our midfielders and forwards offering anything more than an average presence, and it just didn't suit us. Our best first half effort came when Clunis broke clear inside the box and appeared to do everything right only to see his shot come back off the face of the near post. Hampton, whose players seemed man-for-man significantly bigger and heavier than ours, looked comfortable sitting tight and playing the percentages. Their left back was very lucky to last more than half an hour after three crude or cynical fouls on the same opponent, getting let off with a talking to for a cynical foul on Wanadio, then getting booked for another one ten minutes later, before the referee completely ignored a blatant shirtpulling offence as Wanadio accelerated away from him inside the box shortly after the game's only goal. That goal arrived when their right back punted a high ball into our box that fell favourably for them; admittedly the goalscorer produced a superb turn and finish that was worthy of deciding any game.
The second half was a slog, although after introducing all three substitutes within a few minutes midway though the half we began to look more capable of fighting our way back. Their keeper made a couple of good saves, a free kick was deflected just wide, other efforts were narrowly off target, but the best opportunity of all arrived when a corner led to a goalmouth scramble with the ball dropping at the feet of Carew no more than three or four yards out right in front of a gaping net, but somehow he seemed to freeze as if expecting someone else to grasp the opportunity to poke the ball into the net and a defender lunged in to hoof it to safety.
Team (4-3-3): Wilson - Abnett, Forbes(c), Pinnock, Shaw - Dixon, Carew, Samuels - Wanadio, Ottaway, Clunis.
Subs: Vidal (for Samuels), Jarrett (for Ottaway), James (for Dixon), Kamara, Hibbert (not used).
Next article in this thread: Re: Hampton 1 Hamlet 0 by the 12th man28/1/2015 00:52Wed Jan 28 00:52:48 2015