Hartley Wintney v Dorchester Town, Evo-Stik League South, Premier South. Saturday 27th April '19
Report by David Graham
Hartley Wintney concluded their league season in style with a win over Dorchester Town. This enabled them to finish in a very creditable 8th place in their first season in the Southern Premier Division. The 8th position saw the Row finish highest of the Hampshire sides; the local football fraternity will be relieved to have Southern Premier League football available again next season.
Dorchester had wind advantage in the first half but it was the Row who created and missed several chances. The home side forced three early corners and, on four minutes, should have gone ahead. A free kick from Matt Drage found the head of Dan Stewart, whose header across goal saw Mitchell Parker just fail to connect in front of an open goal.
On 14 minutes, a long pass from Jack Ball found Marley Ridge free. The midfielder took it passed a defender, and with the 'keeper to beat from a narrow angle, his shot across goal hit the post. Four minutes later, a long ball from Matt Drage found Dan Stewart free behind the Magpies defence. However, the striker was unable to get control of the ball, which was collected by the alert Dorchester 'keeper, Kingsley Latham.
The visitors struggled to make use of the wind and a number of forward passes were over hit. Their main threat came from some intelligent play by Antonio Diaz.
Hartley continued to dominate the match and on 25 minutes a Parker cross saw Ridge just fail to get his header on target. On 33 minutes, a Mitchell Parker corner saw a Nathan Smart shot blocked, and Jack French's follow-up shot brought out a good save from Latham.
HALF TIME: HARTLEY WINTNEY 0 DORCHESTER TOWN 0
Dorchester opened the scoring on 47 minutes after a fine move. Defending a Hartley set piece, Harry Kite sent a measured pass to the impressive Antonio Diaz on the right. Diaz made good progress and set up Tom Blair. The winger's shot was parried by Row 'keeper, Paul Strudley, but only into the path of Ben Seymour who scored from ten yards. (0-1)
Hartley responded well and drew level on 62 minutes. Steven Duff had come on as substitute and his first contribution was to head home, unchallenged, an accurate free kick from the right delivered by Nathan Smart. (1-1)
The Row remained on top and edged ahead on 75 minutes. A free kick from Josh Webb on the left was only partially cleared by the Magpies defence to Matt Drage, who volleyed home spectacularly from beyond the edge of the box. (2-1)
Hartley should have gone further ahead soon after when Duff set up Jack Ball, whose close range effort was parried by Latham.
The Magpies pressed towards the end but it was the home side who scored the decisive goal. On 89 minutes, Sal Abubakar made good progress down the left before being hauled down in the penalty box. Jack Ball stepped up and scored from the resultant penalty. (3-1)
At the final whistle the Row left the field to much applause after a truly memorable season. The players assembled for the Supporters' Player of the Season Award, which was won by Jack Ball. [D Graham]
FULL TIME: HARTLEY WINTNEY 3 DORCHESTER TOWN 1
HARTLEY WINTNEY MAN OF THE MATCH: MATT DRAGE
MAGPIES MAN OF THE MATCH: KYLE EGAN
HARTLEY WINTNEY: Paul Strudley, Tyron Smith, Louie Paget, Alexandru Albert, Jack Ball, Matthew Drage, Nathan Smart (c), Jack French, Mitchell Parker, Daniel Stewart, Marley Ridge.
Subs: Steven Duff (on for Mitchell Parker), Angel Zapata Montes, Salhin Abubakar (on for Dan Stewart), Tyrone Newton, Josh Webb (on for Ty Smith).
DORCHESTER TOWN: Kingsley Latham, Kyle Egan, Neil Martin, Sam Jackson, Nathan Walker, Harry Kite, Callum Rose, Luke Winsper, Ben Seymour, Antonio Diaz, Tom Blair.
Subs: Aaron Rodriguez (on), Billy Lowes (on), Mike Edgar, Dom Panesar-Dower (on), Ben Morris.
David spoke with departing Head Coach, Luke Tuffs, after the match.
"We had a game plan today and the boys stuck to it. They were excellent. We felt we needed width against Dorchester and we pushed our full backs well forward. Also we played a high pressing game, which was effective. I felt we recovered well from going a goal behind and definitely deserved to win.
"It is truly astonishing that a tiny little village side like ours could have finished so high at this level. But I feel the club must not accept this as a plateau, and instead look to push on again next season. It is a remarkable club."
Luke leaves his post after this final game of the season to pursue a management/coaching career elsewhere. He leaves with the greatest affection and gratitude from everyone associated with Hartley Wintney Football club.
Pictured below, Jack Ball receiving the Hartley Wintney FC Supporters' Player of the Season Award presented by Row supporter Tyler House.