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AFC Hayes 2 - 4 Hartley Wintney
27 Oct 2015 - Combined Counties Premier Division

17 minute Ross Cook hat-trick puts Hartley in the driving seat

This fixture was predicted by management to be a very tricky evening for the boys for numerous reasons. It's a long distance to travel on a Tuesday night especially when you have to fight the inevitable traffic on the M4 or M25 at peak hours. Not only that, we were without Shane Hollamby, Steve Noakes, Nathan Nurse, Marc Vockins, Steve Duff, Eddie Smith and Aaron Parfitt. It's testament to the quality of the squad that we still went into the game with bags of confidence. Credit to the boys in the arrangements they made to get to the game on time, not something that is widely considered, but the commitment levels they are showing are fantastic - admittedly it's what we'd expect and demand, but the boys have delivered that side of things very well.

Credit to the boys in the arrangements they made to get to the game on time - the commitment levels they are showing are fantastic.

It's fair to say Hayes certainly started the better of the two teams, they were insistent on sending lot's of bodies forward in a bid to keep us pegged back and it appeared to work in the opening 5 minutes. Hayes created a number of chances although never really troubled our goalkeeper, Craig Atkinson. They continued to attack in numbers, however it was arguably their downfall as the space in behind gave Hartley the first real opportunity of the evening. An attack created with blistering pace and movement led to Sam Argent finding space on the right hand side, and with pin point precision, drilled a cross field pass to the on running Ross Cook, who with a clever touch that their number 4 is still looking for, powered home our opener on the half volley.

It didn't take long for Cook to grab his second of the evening, Toby Jannaway played the ball in between the left back and centre half and Cook made a clever diagonal run and lashed the ball in past the keeper in the opposite direction.

Hartley were dominating the midfield battle with the partnership of Ian Jones and Joe Paris, who hassled and hounded and, when in possession, played intelligent balls that set us up for repeated waves of attack. Their work was balanced nicely with Jannaway's sheer workrate and determination to make things happen and Everiss making pacey runs that were dragging their defenders out to secure further space for our front two.

It took just 17 minutes for Cook to complete his hat-trick and it was his own neat footwork that drew the foul that led to the goal. Cook and Everiss stood over the ball, but it was Cook who whipped it over the wall for it to crash off the post and into the other side of the goal.

Hartley dominated possession and chances for the next 20 minutes, although we were disappointed to let Hayes back into the game as, with mounted pressure, they found their footing in the last 5 minutes of the game which led to a goal.

Now, there's two reactions that could have germinated following the half time whistle. One which was happy that we'd scored three and that we were ahead going into the break, an element of satisfaction. And the other? Demanding more from each other and not allowing for standards to drop. Characterised by our skipper Sam Argent, who rallied the team on the way in to the changing rooms, pressing the players for more, it was the second option the boys took. It's important those cries for improvement are balanced with what's gone before it, but it's the signature of winners, those that strive to be better. A very positive trait to have and very pleased that we have a changing room the demands more from themselves and each other. Half Time 1-3.

The bulk of everything mentioned at half time was positive and reinforcement to continue to maintain what was working, with a gentle reminder of our failure to turn up during the second half with our game at Sandhurst, which we promised ourselves would not happen again. Luckily for us, it didn't. Hartley created some great chances, a ball played through by Adam Everiss into the path of Ross Cook who was unfortunate to see his shot go just over the bar. It was at this point that the Hayes centre half pairing took the opportunity to tell Ross how bad he was (although using slightly different terminologies), we can only assume this was laced with the art of irony with full knowledge that he'd already completed his hat-trick 50 minutes earlier.

The Hartley back four remained solid, Julian Sills and Liam Eagle won some very important headers, partnered by Walsh and C Eagles who continue to impress at full back. Max Elward established himself well into the game making some important interceptions and tackles. It was also great to welcome back Zac Horkan who had been out with an injury to his beak for a series of weeks.

It was Sam Argent's turn to get on the score sheet when a neat ball was played through as he cut across with pace and thumped the ball past the keeper. A well deserved goal for all his quality and hard work throughout the game.

It was Hayes who were to have the final say in terms of goals, as ex-Hartley player Jermaine Gumbs, who played under then manager Neville Roach, scored after a good run with the ball.

Hayes were a hardworking side that had us on the back foot in the opening exchanges. We were pleased to get an early goal as their confidence was mounting and they could have quite easily taken the lead, from there who knows where the game may have ended up. Nice place to play football and we wish them all the best for the rest of the season.

A good performance by the boys and an important win. On what could have been a difficult night it was a well rounded performance with grit and determination interwoven with class and quality in equal measure. It also meant we reached somewhat of a milestone making it ten wins out of ten in the league. It's not an opportunity to relax and admire, it's merely a marker point in a long season, with our 'one game at a time' approach, we now ready ourself for our next game. It is a great achievement for the boys and sets us up nicely for the FA Vase fixture on Saturday against Wokingham and Embrook. Once again, thank you for your continued support, it's never expected and always appreciated, especially knowing the distance you travelled to watch us last night. Means a lot to us and means a lot to the boys. [DB]


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AFC HAYES (AWAY) - 27 October, 2015

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