Feb. 19, 2019, 11:20 p.m.
Saturday, 19th January 2019, 2PM, at
Home Match, Anglian Combination Division 3 - 2017 - 2018
Win, 3 - 2
Hempnall welcomed Bradenham Wanderers Reserves to Bungay Road for a mid-table encounter – a win for Hempnall would see them rise in the table to a height not seen for a while, before injuries, suspensions, work and holidays took their toll.
So it was great to see a number of players return, and despite this, bizarrely, only 12 players, plus the manager, were available following a late, unannounced withdrawal of one player and family duties for Bunno. So, there were five changes in all. The Reserves were without a match so crowd favourite, Alex Chapman, was called in and started on the bench.
As expected, Hempnall started in disjointed fashion, the defence included Griffiths, back after a 12 match absence, looking mobile but by his own admission, not as fit as he was, partnered in central defence by also returning Aaron Clarke, with Leather and Kelly at full back.
Certainly, for the first 15 minutes, Bradenham looked more dangerous, their first attempt sailed over the bar, but at the other end, the again excellent Womack was working tirelessly, and Etherington was creating major problems on the left wing, so we were looking at a largely even game.
It was competitive, end to end, the nearest efforts in the earlier stages were from Bradenham, with Davis in the Hempnall goal having to be very watchful, managing one decent save to keep Hempnall level.
Hempnall worked their way into the game very well, Adam Clarke again working extremely hard, as were all of the team, and with Watts also his usual competitive self in midfield, Hempnall were starting to create chances.
The best came from a run from Etherington, involved Clarke and Womack, but the keeper in the end collected.
Then a great run and shot from Etherington saw the parried ball fall to Gent whose shot was again parried, finally falling to Womack who buried the chance.
Bradenham got back into the game very quickly to equalise, the usual Hempnall failing of trying to play football where perhaps an agricultural type clearance would have been favourable.
Both teams had penalty shouts waved away, but the referee finally awarded Hempnall a penalty when Etherington was again taken out, this time in the penalty area, and Miller coolly despatched the penalty for 2-1.
Annoyingly, Hempnall rather let Bradenham in, they scored just before the break for 2-2 at half time.
The second half started similar to the first, Bradenham were perhaps a little stronger, but all the defenders were in determined mode, some excellent interceptions, with Kelly having another stormer, and Leather not far behind, Aaron Clarke and Griffiths were doing all they could and succeeding admirably.
One rash tackle, right on the edge of the penalty box, saw Bradenham awarded a penalty, which was blazed over the top. We felt then it was going to be Hempnall’s day.
Etherington was suffering with his hamstring, about to be substituted, but with Griffiths tiring and suffering significant cramp, on came Chapman for Griffiths, to add skill and guile, and he started as he meant to go on – taking the game to the opposition, running at them and showing us what we have been missing in recent years – so pleased to see Alex back playing in our first team.
Kelly was also getting in on the act, running forward, creating difficulties for the defence, Adam Clarke was arguably the fittest player on the park, showing class, going close, as did Womack, then Clarke again, though at the other end, Bradenham hit the crossbar, so it was all quite exciting and not a little competitive, making it difficult for the referee.
Another penalty shout when Womack was pulled back in thepenalty area but not given.
Adam Clarke finally got his deserved reward with a ‘Worldy’ from the edge of the box which the keeper didn’t see, let alone have a chance of saving, so 3-2 to Hempnall.
Hempnall withstood some late pressure and we were getting jittery when the referee played over 5 minutes of added time, but Hempnall survived to win 3-2, and reach the heights of 6th in the division.
A really good, competitive game, with great team spirit, and we are very pleased with the excellent disicpline despite a couple of, in my view, rather harsh bookings, but the lads kept their heads in what were, at times, difficult circumstances.
There were several excellent performances, again my stand out players were Womack, Adam Clarke (sorry, Aaron, he got the nod!), Etherington, but again several others were in the frame, but for his overall excellence, MOM for me was Womack who edged it over Adam Clarke.