Hamlet 2 Hornchurch 0
Another win, but not a great spectacle, and rendered almost unwatchable towards the end thanks to an incredibly petty and pedantic approach from referee Craig Green. I don't think I've ever seen so many free kicks awarded in ninety minutes, yet there wasn't a single bad foul I can recall; in fact I don't really recall any specific foul at all. There seemed to be dozens and dozens of them, most of which seemed to be against the Hamlet although that bit may be selective memory. On at least three occasions we were awarded free kicks deep inside our own box for offside or minor infringements when the keeper already had the ball safely under control and the best option would have been to let him carry it to the 18 yard line and release it. It was the performance of someone who has never played the game, or even watched it for enjoyment. By the end of the eight minutes of stoppage time I'd almost lost the will to live.
Hamlet made a poor start, repeatedly conceding possession in our own half, but fortunately the visitors seemed to lack a cutting edge up front. It took us more than ten minutes to even get close to the visitors' box, but we then took the lead from our first attack. A throw on the right preceded a nice passing move around the right side of the box, and when Vidal received the ball around fifteen yards out he spotted a gap to the keeper's right and drove the ball low inside the far post. Shortly afterwards we had a shot against the crossbar from a set piece but it wouldn't have counted anyway as the whistle blew for one of those many infringements.
Our next attack of note wasn't until early in the second half, and it led to our second goal. McCoulsky barged a defender off the ball in the left corner, turned inside and ran the ball menacingly into the box before beating the keeper from a tight angle. It was similar to Hamici's memorable last minute winner against Margate. Carew almost made it three with a direct free kick that was turned away at full stretch by the keeper. Much of the second half seemed to be a sequence of Hornchurch set pieces that didn't amount to much. There were a few shots and crosses blocked by defenders in the box but Wilson was relatively untroubled despite clearly being hampered by an injury, and the visitors looked like a side that have now failed to score in eight of their eleven league matches.
With Wilson and Forbes both limping heavily by the end it seems doubtful that either will be ready for Tuesday's home game with Fingate. Youngster Malachi Robinson made his debut in midfield, Brandon Hobbs and Cherno Mendy were unused substitutes, while reserve keeper Oshane Brown was going through some training exercises after the game, and I suspect he may appear on Tuesday. He played around a third of Merstham's league fixtures two seasons ago in D1S including their 3-1 win agaisnt the Hamlet. I believe he was aged only 16 at the time so not surprisingly was a bit raw, but he's a big lad and seemed to have something about him that made me feel he could establish himself at our level in time.
Team (4-3-1-2): Wilson - Hibbert, Forbes(c), Pinnock, Gonsalves - Carew, I.Mansaray, Robinson - Vidal - McDonald, McCoulsky.
Subs used: Hysi (for I.Mansaray), Kamara (for McDonald), A.Mansaray (for Hibbert), Hobbs, Mendy (not used).
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