'Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness'? Well it was pretty grey at Clarence Park for the visit of Hampton & Richmond Borough. They are propping up the league with 1 win and 7 draws from their 20 outings this season and in danger of losing touch, despite the recent appointment of new Manager, Chic Botley. Saints start the day in second place, 2 points behind the leaders, Aldershot whose top of the table clash today at Hendon was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.
The Dynamic Duo selected Wilmot in goal; 4 at the back: new signing from Barnet Lee Gledhill, Brown (C), Campbell and Naylor; 4 in the middle: Kean, Challinor, Castle and Smith; and up front: De Souza and Browne. On the bench: Crawshaw, Mackail-Smith, Moran, Hollenbach and Roberts (D).
A promising first 10 minutes or so when City threatened. Gledhill showed his pedigree early on, clearly forming an understanding with Kean and Challinor and The Saints looked positive in attack on the right. The closest to an early goal was at the other end, however, when Boro' striker Mark Royal was put through to be denied by Wilmot coming smartly off his line to block the shot on the edge of the box. City seemed to become frustrated and fell to playing deep in defence once again. If I had a notebook, it would be blank for the rest of the half. H.T. 0-0.
Within 10 minutes of the restart, City took the lead. Kean broke down a Boro' attack just inside his own half and played a super long pass to De Souza, splitting the visitors defence. The City striker took it on at pace and beat the keeper from the edge of the box. Fine strike. Good goal. 1-0. Crawshaw came on for Browne. City were on top without stretching and without creating the chances on goal. With just over 10 minutes remaining, the win was sealed when a Gledhill cross was handled in the box and De Souza hit a firm penalty to Iga's right. 2-0. For the last 10 minutes, City pressed and the crowd saw some entertaining football with De Souza pressing for his hat-trick. It was not to be. F.T. 2-0.
The visitors will have to work hard to climb out of the relegation zone. Their back line of defence looked sound to me but they had little to offer in the midfield or up front. The Duo will take the 3 points, of course, but they will know that the team can and must improve upon this performance. A little pedestrian. The sponsors MotM was Kean who worked hard today, closely followed for me by Challinor and Gledhill. The crowd was 478, with not many having made the trip from The Beveree.
Despite the 3 points and a clean sheet, City were overtaken at the top on goal difference as Purfleet put 6 on Chesham.
Entertainment 5/10. Atmosphere 5/10. Technical Merit 5/10. Referee 6/10.
Report by Homer