Saturday, August 13, 2011

Game 3: Tintinhull 1.4 Hamworthy Recreation (Dorset Prem) 13.08.11


For the first competitive match of the season I decided to make the most of the dry forecast and drive down to Tintinhull to watch their first Dorset Premier League match against Hamworthy Rec, league champions for the past two years. The drive was straightforward, a turn off the A303 led into the village where the ground parking is found at the end of a lane, helpfully signposted. I managed to squeeze the car into one of the few remaining spaces which was blocked in for a short time after the match as latecomers had parked behind me.

Wandering through a gateway in the fence with the teabar prices on display, I took up a spot close to the dugouts. The changing rooms, tea bar and practice pitch were behind the main pitch which looked to have had metal railings installed recently around it's sides. The teams were out early and the referee blew to kick off the season a few minutes before 3pm. The first few minutes of the match summed up the game - Hamworthy pressing forward, seemingly a step ahead of their opponents, keeping the home keeper busy. They won two early corners, one shot wide and one header over. Tintinhull had one opportunity very early on, a high ball towards goal ended up just over the bar. In the 10th minute Hamworthy took the lead following a break down the left. The winger pulled the ball back to space outside the area and a teammate hit a powerful drive past the dive of the Tintinhull keeper. A minute later and it was almost 2.0 when a deflection fell kindly and allowed a chipped effort that the keeper did well to push over the bar.

The attacks seemed never ending as Tintinhull found it difficult to get quality possession in their opponents half. Hamworthy were trying to play the ball into space behind the defence to allow players to beat the offside trap and take the ball on. This was often successful but didn't translate into goalscoring opportunities as often as it should have done. The home keeper was still kept busy, pulling off a couple of saves at full stretch when the ball looked destined for the back of the net. Tintinhull made a couple of naive defensive mistakes with passes going astray or being telegraphed and easily intercepted by the alert Hamworthy forwards. The second goal finally arrived in the 35th minute, a player taking the ball from diagonal pass into space to the right side of the area. Before a defender could get back to cover he hit a low shot past the keeper into the far corner via the post. Tintinhull were unlucky not to get a goal back just before the end of the half when a freekick found a player on the right side of the area. He hit a first time shot but misdirected it slightly and it ended up wide of the post with the keeper beaten.

After a quick halftime break, the second half kicked off at 3.55pm. I moved round to the other touchline where there was a lovely scenic view of the fields in the background. The play was similar to the first half as Hamworthy would win the ball in their half and play it quickly upfield. On occasion I wondered if they overcomplicated matters by trying to play a pass rather than keeping the ball and trying to beat the defence for pace to get behind them. They were close to extending their lead in the 54th minute when a high backpass caught out the home keeper. He did well to take the ball down on his chest near the edge of the area but the bounce took the ball out of the area where a Hamworthy player ran onto it. He took a heavy touch in trying to bring it under control and round the keeper, who tripped him as he went by. The referee awarded a free kick but nothing more, deciding that the heavy touch meant the ball wasn't under control. The freekick didn't come to anything but the third goal wasn't long in coming. Following a corner two minutes later, the ball was deflected into the box, allowing a Hamworthy player to smash a shot past the keeper from close range.

The Tintinhull keeper had been lucky not to see a yellow card for his challenge outside the area but learnt from his mistake on the hour. The same Hamworthy player took the ball in space in the area with just the keeper to beat but again played the ball with a heavy touch. This time the keeper held back from a challenge and the ball went out of play for a goal kick. His luck was out when Hamworthy added a fourth goal after a defensive mix up in the 65th minute. The keeper was forced to come out to try and win the ball, leaving his goal unguarded. A low cross into the middle set up a Hamworthy sub with an easy tap in. He was also kept busy in the 70th minute, a spectaular reflex save pushing the ball over the bar.

Despite the scoreline, Tintinhull didn't give up and were playing some nice one touch football. They managed a consolation goal in the 80th minute, exploiting space on the right side to draw the keeper out. His dive slowed the ball down but deflected it towards goal where a Tintinhull sub tapped the ball in to make the final score 1.4. Both teams made this an enjoyable game to watch with little for the referee to do - to his credit, his common sense decisions assisted.