The Eagle rises to seal important win
Only five games went ahead in the CCL on Saturday afternoon after some horrendous rain the day before running up until kick off. The Hanworth ground staff did a fantastic job in keeping the game on. The pitch was soft and was going to lead to a difficult afternoon, but at this time of the year it's important that the league does all it can to keep games on.
Joe Paris is to midfielders what limescale is to dishwashers.
We were disappointed with the way in which we've started games of late, like a centipede who is only doing up his 5th pair of laces when the starting whistle blows, it's taken a while for us to get going. Well, we had all our boots strapped on, as we started very brightly. In the early stages of the game we set up a 5 man tent in their half with Joe Paris standing outside ready to cover any leaks. Hartley created a number of chances in the opening 10 minutes, Eddie Smith went close but the keeper saved well down to his left.
It was Argent who broke the deadlock. A very neat touch round the corner by Jannaway led to a pass to Sam, the ball bounced up and with composure and awareness of the time he had, he cut down on the ball and drove it into the bottom left hand corner. He made it look simple, but holding his composure to strike the ball at the optimum time, the placement and the technique was superb. Other strikers would have snatched at it, but it demonstrates why Sam has now scored 22 goals this season.
Jonah and Joe were working well in midfield continuing to probe through balls to the front two, whose dynamic movement was creating spaces on a small pitch. Joe Paris is to midfielders what limescale is to dishwashers. In the early stages he appears a mere nuisance, but in time, he learns where he can bed in and no amount of Cilit Bang will remove that.
The game continued in a similar fashion, but in a slight lapse of concentration the ball managed to break through our normally excellent defensive shape and found it's way to the left midfielder. He whipped in a dangerous low cross, but the ever-ready Atko smothered the ball and stopped the attack.
A foul was awarded to Hartley following a foul on Joe Paris, in a handbag moment, a few Hanworth players gathered around the ref promoting their innocence, then unexplicably a Hanworth midfielder charged onto the scene in an attempt to barge over JP with some force. The ref had no alternative but to send the player off. Hanworth down to ten, it was important we buried the game and there was a frustration at half time that we hadn't scored more having carved out 5 or 6 good opportunities. Half time 0-1.
The centipede had forgotten to lace half his boots again! Everything that was good in the first half was forgotten and we began getting dragged out of position. Without wanting to make it appear that Hanworth didn't earn their way into the game, arguably it was Hartley's inability to refocus and start doing the things that were working in the first half. Hanworth did deservedly get a goal back after some good play down their left hand side. The winger wormed his way through to the byline and played a low and driven cross in between the 6 yard box and the goalkeeper. A corridor that every defender dreads as, with you facing your own goal, it's a difficult ball to deal with. The striker met it at the back post and scored past Craig.
Hartley had been here before, luckily for us we had past experience in winning the game from this position. It wasn't long before Adam Everiss found himself with the ball out wide, and he delivered a pin point cross to the lively Sam Argent who met the ball with an intelligent run to the front post. The game then became relatively even, but it was still Hartley who were creating the better chances. With Hanworth having to press forward in numbers, larger gaps started to appear. Toby Jannaway created two great chances having driven down the ball right hand side and Eddie was once again denied by the keeper's legs.
Hartley earned a corner after some sustain pressure in their final third. Whether it's nominative determinism or a natural talent, Liam Eagle is a power house in the air and once again scored rising above his marker, heading home from close range.
The final minutes of the game was a bit of a battle. The pitches are starting to turn and what was before the game a soft pitch, had turned into a sticky and heavy pitch. It's demonstrated we can deal with the surface which is a huge positive. We were disappointed with the second half performance, but with all things considered, it was always going to be difficult. Going down to 10 can sometimes galvanise a team, and it certainly did Hanworth in the second half, but we coped, held out and then went on to win the game. Needless to say, the pitch had an impact but we have to contend with that entering the cold and wet months of winter.
A good win in a place many will struggle to come away with anything. Full Time 1-3. We now look forward to Tuesday night's game away at Bedfont Sports. The pitch looks great so it should lead to a quality game of football. [DB]