April 22, 2021, 4:46 a.m.
Saturday, 10th October 2020, 2:30PM, at Hempnall #1
Home Match, Anglian Combination Division 3 - 2020 - 2021
Win, 3 - 2
Hempnall welcomed Costessey Sports, to Bungay Road. The Costessey lads are coached by Stu Oakley, former Hempnall (well, Hempnall born and bred) player, A team manager, 3x clubman of the year, program seller (in the days we used paper) amongst other things. It was a pleasure to see him back albeit in the wrong colours!
Hempnall had a few enforced changes, with Billy Kelly stepping back up, getting back into the flow after his long layoff, and Cleverley replacing Leather who had to call off late. Lewis Bailey replaced the working Davis, and Steven Blake, normally a front player, went to centre half for the first time, to do a job for the team, with normal centre half Shaun Kelly moving to left back as Edwards was away on holiday.
Both teams started brightly, the rain became torrential and the pitch, albeit nice and flat, became very skiddy and difficult, but despite this, the football was attractive enough.
Hempnall started the better attacking wise, with Womack giving the keeper his first comfortable save of the match, then a second, and we were thinking this might ease in Hempnall’s direction, albeit the teams looked very well matched.
From a corner, with Womack causing difficulties for the keeper who was able only to punch the ball downwards, the hovering Billy Kelly, hammered the ball into the roof of the net for 1-0.
Hempnall continued on the front foot, though Costessey certainly had their moments, and Hempnall had to be alert, though Bailey was looking comfortable and quick off his line when needed.
A couple of chances for Hempnall came to nothing, and then it was end to end in the sun, the conditions far better for the players (and spectators).
This had become a classic end to end match, both teams going close, Bailey could only watch to see one go over his crossbar, and at the other end, the lively Billy Kelly, Womack and even Shaun Kelly caused issues, before Womack converted a Kelly cross for 2-0.
We came very close to a third and it seemed Hempnall were on the front foot and likely to take the game away from Costessey.
Well, that didn’t happen, and Costessey came out for the second half looking much better, their front players were given too much time and space, and their excellent centre forward crashed an unstoppable shot into the corner of the net for 2-1, and not long after, a second went in for a tense time for the Hempnall support.
Hempnall did then pull their socks up, Watts was really coming to the fore, not taking anything away from the other midfielders, he was, for a time, easily the best player on the park, and his efforts seemed to spur the team on.
Womack looked even more dangerous, and probably should have scored but shot across goal, Kelly then had a go, and Miller hit a lovely volley against the crossbar, so Hempnall were again on top.
Despite this, when an attack broke down, the speed of the Costessey forwards led to several excellent breaks, one of which did result in a goalmouth scramble when they claimed the ball went in, but the lino was unsighted, and it wasn’t given – VAR required.
Both keepers were called into action, and in fairness, Costessey could easily have taken the lead, before Hempnall took the game by the scruff of the neck and surged forward.
Both Womack and Dowling had chances, before another goal line scramble saw the keeper manage to keep the ball from crossing the line.
Still it was end to end, Womack headed over, but with about 15 to go, Womack finally managed to finish for 3-2.
It definitely wasn’t over though, and Bailey had to keep out a header from the Costessey number 10, then Billy Kelly bravely, with his mum putting head in hands, challenged the defender and keeper hoping for a loose ball which didn’t come his way; knee came out intact.
We were urging the ref to blow his whistle, and after 5 minutes added time, he did, and Hempnall won a very, very, tight game.
Arguably, the best teamwork today was in the hospitality room after the game, with Susan joined by Keri (Harty’s (much) better half), fully masked, Susan managing proceedings inside the bar, and Keri our lovely server. Brilliant job under Covid compliant conditions.
MOM is difficult – several decent perfomances again. Watts was again up there, as were Shaun Kelly and Lewis Bailey, who looks a better keeper every time I see him), but on this occasion, for playing pretty darned well in an unfamiliar role, making two or three great interceptions, I feel Steven Blake is MOM.