Just under the hour around the M25 to Hampton. This is the first of the
'return' games the sign that the half-way point of the season is upon us.
Hampton defeated The Saints by 3-1 at Clarence Park on the opening day of the season and they looked a very good side. They haven't fulfilled their potential as they are in 14th spot in the League with 21 points from 21 games. City were poor that day but this morning, we are 7th with 34 points and come into this game on the back of 5 successive League victories and a super performance at Billericay last week.
For today, The Dynamic Duo selected Wilmot in goal; 3 at the back: Moran, Brown and Campbell; 5 in the middle: Wraight, Sugrue, Evans, Smith and Rattle; and up front: Martin and Rattle. On the bench were Kean, Upsher and Cook. A somewhat weakened Hampton side without top scorer, Craig Maskall and their right-back and captain whose name I can't remember.
City started the livelier, confident on the ball and finding each other
through the side. They were rewarded early on in the fourth minute when a
fine through ball form Sugrue into the side of the box was anticipated by
Martin who took it on a pace or two and shot powerfully from a tight angle to beat MacKenzie, possibly with the help of a slight deflection. Super strike, fine goal. 0-1. With the exception of a 7 or 8 minute spell midway through, The Saints were in command in this first half. Several chances fell to Bignall, often following good work from the midfield, but the veteran home keeper dealt comfortably with longer shots. Bignal should, perhaps, have done better with a chip from close range but the writing was on the wall. The game was over in a devastating 6 minute spell just before the break.
First the home No 5, who had a nightmare today, chested the ball into his own net from a corner, with encouragement from Martin, who, to me but not the referee, pushed him in the back. 0-2. Moments later, the home defence was split again leaving Smith and Martin to exchange several two yard passes with each other across the penalty spot before Martin beat the bemused keeper. 0-3. Just before the break, a corner from the right was headed powerfully home by.....well I and the announcer thought that it was Brown, who claimed the goal, but some thought that it was the home No. 5. 0-4. H.T.
I don't think many sides double their score in the second half in a one-sided encounter, and City didn't today. However, they were in complete control. The rare Hampton attacks were stopped before they became threatening, with the back 3, especially my MotM, Brown, very comfortable again today. Wilmot was not stretched. Smith had a fine game. City made it 5 when a free-kick from the left was converted by Brown following a goalmouth scramble. 0-5. Towards the end of the game, Kean replaced Sugrue, and Upsher came on for Evans. F.T.
Hampton were very poor today. The back 3, Nos 4,5 and 6, will wish to forget this one as soon as possible. Nothing should be taken away from The Saints, however. 5 goals for the second successive week, but more important than that, the work-rate, confidence and teamwork were very impressive. Once again, they played very good football, finding each other in space, using the width of the pitch, confident on the ball and a great team-spirit.
The crowd was 308 with perhaps 120 or so Travelling City Faithful. Up to 6th in the League. 103 points is still on.
Entertainment 9/10. Atmosphere 7/10. Technical Merit 8/10. Referee 6/10.
Next up. No game next Saturday, December 22nd. Turkey and all the trimmings on the 25th, and the next games are on Boxing Day, versus Hendon (ko 1.00) and then on Saturday, December 29th vs. Bedford, ko 3.00. Happy Christmas to all our readers from the entire Executive, Managerial, Production and Sales teams here at Webbo Towers. Peace on earth, goodwill to all men.
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