March 1, 2021, 7:13 a.m.
Saturday, 31st October 2020, 2PM, at Hempnall #1
Home Match, Anglian Combination Division 3 - 2020 - 2021
Loss, 2 - 3
Hempnall met Long Stratton Reserves in Stratton’s must win game of the season, and they brought a large contingent of support with them.
We knew this would be a hotly contested match, and we were waiting for the inevitable competitiveness between players, but fortunately, we had a strong referee who kept good control but missed several elbows in the face of Hempnall’s number 7, Blake, by a single Stratton player, a deliberate attempt to get him to retaliate and get sent off, but it was good to see the Hempnall player keep control in the face of this deliberate intimidation. It’s not good to see players trying to get others sent off, but that’s football I suppose.
I apologise for my outburst after seeing one elbow directly in the face, but that is aomething I see as unacceptable practice.
Fortunately, most of the players just wanted to play football as did the officials of both sides despite the local rivalry.
It was good, end to end entertainment, Hempnall played the better football but showed the usual frailties, getting caught out now and again, and it was one of these that let Stratton in for their first goal, but Hempnall came back strongly, and an almost ridiculous angled shot from the improving (after his two season lay-off through injury) Billy Kelly, which hit the bar, then a major goalmouth scramble left us wondering how the ball stayed out – whilst a similar indicent in Hempnall’s goalmouth later in the second half led to a Stratton goal – funny old game.
Another Kelly shot led to a comfortable save for the keeper, but Hempnall were looking the team more likely to score.
0-1 at half time.
Hempnall came out determined to makes amends, and an attack resulted in a corner, which was beautifully converted by the excellent Dowling for 1-1.
Another lapse allowed Stratton to score their second, but then up popped Blake to smash a volley from 20 yards past a bemused keeper, to level the match at 2-2.
The game looked to be heading for a draw when we saw another Hempnall mistake, this time we can blame an extremely skiddy pitch due to very heavy rain, and the Stratton player put the ball into the Hempnall net.
Such a pity for Hempnall who, for a large part of the game, looked the better side and played the more attractive football but unfortunately for them, Stratton seems to be their bogey team.
Given the intensity of the game, all the players gave 100%, it was hard to pick a man of the match, but this week, I’m giving it to Jamie Miller.
Finally, given the Covid issue we currently have, the Stratton players changed, after the match, in the pouring rain on the car park – I would just say to Damien and their other officials the dressing rooms were open on a staggered (four at any one time) basis. I realise that most clubs aren’t allowing the use of changing rooms. How grass-roots football is going to survive if players have to change on car parks in the pouring rain after a hard game of football beats me. Let’s hope this issue is resolved soon.