May 22, 2019, 2:16 a.m.
Saturday, 25th August 2018, 2:30PM, at Hempnall #1
Home Match, Hadley & Ottaway Anglian Combination Division 3 - 2018 - 2019
Win, 2 - 0
Hempnall came into what looked a challenging fixture against a strong looking Gt. Yarmouth side, who came well supported as their first team had no game today.
Sporting their new ‘Bunno’s Platering Services’ kit, we were hoping for another performance to match that of the first game against CEYMS.
From the off though, Yarmouth looked a little more fluid, and had the best of the opening exchanges, with the speed of Yarmough catching the defence out on a couple of occasions, bringing the Hempnall keeper, Taylor Davis, into action.
Hempnall gradually worked their way into the game, with Etherington in particular able to dribble past the defenders with ease, and captain for the day, Billy Kelly, on the other wing, doing a similar job.
Matt Hartle was posing a major problem at centre forward, winning virtually every header, and his excellent hold up play and retrieval of the ball had the management (and reporter) in raptures.
With centre half, Tom Griffiths, on the bench due to injury, his normal central defensive partner Shaun Kelly teamed up with Jamie Miller, new signing Ben Radford and recent returnee, Richard Leather, and for the most part, the defence looked secure, challenging well and keeping Yarmouth at bay.
Early in the game though, the influential Miller was injured, with Griffiths having to enter the fray too early for his, or the managers’ liking, but as usual, he looked secure and despite his injury, was straight into the game as mobile as ever.
New signing Jake Gent (and what a class act he is looking), James Bennett and the ever dependable George Watts, were fighting for every ball, and Hempnall were beginning to really play their part in what was becoming an even contest.
First half chances fell to both teams, Yarmouth missing a header from a corner, though Hartle’s challenge was enough for the forward to mis-direct his header. Then Kelly fizzed a cross in that was not converted.
Yarmouth then missed when the ball glanced the crossbar, Etherington then had what looked to be a golden chance but the Yarmough keeper was quick to smother the ball.
Another Yarmough chance was saved in acrobatic fashion by Davis, and Hempnall had to defend well from the resulting corner.
A header from Bennett was straight into the arms of the keeper, as was a shot from him, then a header from Billy Kelly also nestled into the keeper’s hands.
Yarmouth were, however, still attacking well, and Davis had to react on several occasions, with a couple of excellent saves tipped over the bar.
Another shot, this time from Etherington, was straight at the Yarmouth keeper, and it was becoming increasingly obvious that the first goal would be extremely important.
Hartle started to really influence the game, setting up decent chances, one fell to Jake Gent, again hit straight at the keeper who saved well, and a similar chance to Etherington who also couldn’t direct his shot past the keeper, the same player then hitting a cross shot that nobody could get to.
Kelly hit the side netting, and an exciting, end to end game was getting somewhat frustrating for both sides, the finishing wasn’t wayward, just a bit weak, or both sets of defences last ditch tackles were successful.
Hartle and Radford both got in on the act, setting up chances, one of which was put away by Bennett, but the goal was ruled out for a very close offside decision.
Captain Kelly was sin-binned, leaving Hempnall to play with only 10 players for 10 minutes, it could have been crucial but wasn’t.
The second half was very much like the first – close, end to end, both teams looking as though they could score.
Etherington and Kelly, aided and abetted by Hartle, were running the Yarmouth defence ragged, but despite this, the Yarmouth number 9 should probably have scored after a breakaway, but Davis reacted superbly to tip past the post.
Half chances galore at both ends finally saw a breakthrough with Bennett getting his just reward with a fine headed finish.
Hempnall were now on top, Etherington had another mazy run ending in a shot that the keeper parried, then the excellent Gent hit an unstoppable half volley into the corner of the net to seal the win, 2-0.
A cracking match, well refereed by James Ludlum.
MOM is difficult to pick, with fine performances from a number of players (there were no weak performances I could see), though this week’s Secretary’s MOM is Matt Hartle.