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Stones Fantastic On Plastic

Maidstone United inflicted Hampton’s heaviest ever Isthmian League defeat on Saturday, running out 7-2 winners in a superb match. Well, for home fans and neutrals anyway!

On their now famous 3G pitch, the Stones were definitely the better side, although I don’t think they were five goals better. Two goals in the closing stages added gloss to the scoreline, when I think 5-2 would have been a fairer reflection. Instead of depressing myself by doing a standard match report and reliving the horror, especially as this report is being written three days after the game, I thought I would instead report on the day in general. For highlights of the match, click here to be taken to United’s site. For the Hampton view on things, check out Rob Overfield’s report.

IMG_4860Myself and my soon to be five year old son Callum decided to travel on the coach with the players and fans for the first time. There were a couple of reasons for this; firstly, it was a reasonably short journey – about ninety minutes – so it was a good one to start with. Secondly, the parking at the ground is restricted, and not wanting to end up a mile from the ground, coach it was.

My first impressions of the Gallagher Stadium have not been changed since Saturday. I didn’t like it (and no the result doesn’t influence my opinion). Don’t get me wrong; the staff were great, as was the food (more on that in a while), but I couldn’t shake the thought that the place looked more like a Goals Soccer Centre than a football ground. The 3G pitch obviously added to that feeling, but it was the whole package that made it just seem, well, a bit temporary to me. There’s no doubt that the club are moving forward (assuming they’re allowed to) and they should be proud to be back home in Maidstone, but the place just seemed unfinished. Which it undoubtedly is. There is definitely scope to expand should they earn the right to be promoted, and maybe a second visit will have a different effect on me.

So, the food. Oh wow, the food! I was delighted to see three outlets serving food, with one being called The Pie Hut. This is where I decided to sate my prematch hunger with a chicken balti pie meal deal. The man serving asked if I wanted mushy peas and gravy with my pie and chips, to which my reply was “I’m from Yorkshire. Of course I do!” The whole meal came to £4.50, which I can honestly say was fantastic value when you consider the burgers were only a pound less. If you happen upon this corner of Kent on your travels this season, I heartily recommend partaking of one yourself.

The Match

And so onto proceedings on the pitch. It all started off so brightly for Hampton. Charlie Moone clipped a ball through to Dave Tarpey to open the scoring after just ninety seconds, slotting the ball past Lee Worgan with the outside of his right boot. A lovely finish to get the travelling faithful dreaming of being the first club to come and take full points away with them. And the Beavers had a couple of chances in the following ten minutes to double the advantage, but Moone and Tarpey were both denied by Worgan. Two goals in five minutes, from Zac Attwood and Alex Brown turned the game on its head before twenty minutes had elapsed. The signs were there that this was going to be a goal fest.

Hampton's Tommy Brewer (with ball) and Luke Wanadio in first half action

Hampton’s Tommy Brewer (with ball) and Luke Wanadio in first half action

Dave Tarpey turned provider just past the half hour, playing in Joe Turner. The winger had plenty of time to size up his shot, and finished superbly to restore parity. At the other end, Hampton ‘keeper Rodney Chiweshe produced one of many excellent saves, keeping out Alex Flisher’s header. Minutes later, Chiweshe was at it again, saving Frannie Collin’s free kick brilliantly, before following up with another two superb stops in the ensuing scramble. Flisher did restore Maidstone’s lead six minutes before the break, drilling a low shot inside Chiweshe’s near post.

The second half started as the first half finished; with the home side on top. Attwood fired a shot wide, before Collin’s shot deflected off Alex Finney and past a wrong footed Chiweshe to put Stones 4-2 up. Lee Worgan came off his line quickly to smother the ball from first Tarpey and then Moone, before Chiweshe again pulled off a great save, denying Collin from close range. However, the home side were soon three goals in front as Jack Parkinson headed in from a corner.

To their credit, Hampton never looked like giving up, with first George Wells shooting over, and then Moone hitting an instant shot which Worgan saved well at his near post. The sixth goal was not long in coming though. Chiweshe saved from Collin, but the rebound fell at the feet of Michael Phillips who could hardly miss. And two minutes later, the rout was complete as Charley Robertson fired past Chiweshe. Hampton substitute Ben Harris came close to netting the game’s tenth goal, but his header flashed narrowly wide.

The referee brought the game to a close, and Hampton had conceded 7 (seven) for the first time in nigh on two decades. Amazingly, not only were nine goals scored, but they were scored by nine different players! I can’t remember ever hearing of more individuals scoring once each in a match, can you?

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Charlie At The Double For Last Gasp Beavers

Charlie Moone took his season’s tally to thirty goals in all competitions with a brace as Hampton & Richmond Borough came from two down to draw with high flying Dulwich Hamlet in an eventful game littered with strange decisions from the officials. Read the rest of this entry

Beavers Left Frustrated By Postponements

Wouldn’t you just believe it? A stunning pair of victories over Christmas saw Hampton & Richmond Borough move up the Ryman League Premier Division table, finally recording the results that recent performances have deserved. And then the weather happens. Their last two matches – very winnable looking fixtures at Cray Wanderers and at home to Bury Town – have fallen victim to the horrendous rain and storms that have hit the majority of the country, leaving fans and players alike frustrated at the stalling of their season.

Those two wins over Christmas were the first time this season that the team have strung together back-to-back league victories. And the most impressive thing about the wins? They were against the top two sides in the division. Boxing Day saw a fourteen minute second half hattrick from top scorer Charlie Moone help Beavers to a stunning 4-1 win over local rivals Kingstonian. Two days later, Moone again scored as his teammates recorded a 3-1 success at leaders Wealdstone. Perhaps the most striking thing about these wins, other than them coming against the two best sides in the league, was that in both matches they came from a goal down. This really goes to show that team spirit and confidence is high.

All in all, December was a good month results wise, but it could have been so much better. While they remained unbeaten in their five league games with three wins and two draws, those two draws could so easily have been wins too. Late, late equalisers for both Lewes and Margate saw victory turn to draws, and four points lost. Instead of being in thirteenth, the club could be sitting in the top ten, and only be eleven points off a playoff place. As it stands, the gap is a rather too large for comfort fifteen points to fifth placed Maidstone United, but with the team in such good form, that gap could shrink quickly.

New Management

Towards the back end of last season, the club changed managers, with Mark Harper departing and being replaced by a joint managership of former Camberley boss Paul Barry and Hampton legend Darren Powell. They took the reins for the final nine games of last season, and immediately supporters saw an upturn in the team’s performances. Three wins and three draws followed, and a busy preseason of signings and squad rebuilding has led to Paul and Darren assembling an excellent, youthful squad – including bringing back Moone from a spell at Boreham Wood – that is showing great potential and signs of putting together a great run.

And then we get the weather enforcing an unwanted winter break. Just two defeats in thirteen league games has seen The Beavers climb up the table after a poor start saw them not win any of their first five league encounters, despite playing reasonably well. Now, though, the results are starting to match the performances, fuelling faint hopes that a playoff push could be on the horizon. And lets face it, if they were to put that sort of run together, they would be hard to stop in said playoffs!

More New Signings

Dave Tarpey has returned to the club. Picture from hamptonfc.net

Dave Tarpey has returned to the club. Picture from hamptonfc.net

Recently, Paul and Darren have added yet more quality young players to the squad, along with an old favourite returning. Dave Tarpey, a striker who scored 42 goals in 125 games in his previous spell at Beveree, has rejoined after being released from his contract by Conference South side Farnborough. With Charlie Moone being far and away our top scorer with 26 goals already this season, it has long been a priority to get in another proven goalscorer to take some of the responsibilty. “Tarps” was prolific before in the Conference South, and should be a lethal frontman in the Ryman Premier. He also provided one of my most memorable moments in my relatively short time as a Beavers’ supporter – hooking in a volley to secure the Middlesex Senior Cup against Wealdstone back in April 2012. Whether he can form a successful partnership with Moone could be the key to Hampton’s season.

The other three new players to join the club are all about potential. Former Chelsea and Spurs youngster Freddy Champion joins from QPR to add numbers to midfield, along with Jake Hicks, who has been promoted from the reserve team. Hicks was at Woking last season, and was voted their Under-18 Player of the Year. Finally, striker Ben Harris joins from Windsor, where he had a better than one-in-two strike rate. All three are sure to get fans excited, and hopefully they can have a big impact on the remaining portion of the season.

The Coming Months

Despite already being into January, Hampton have played less than half their scheduled league games. With twenty four matches still to play, that means it’s going to be Saturday-Tuesday for the next few months, as on top of the league games there are County Cup commitments too. No other team in the division has played less games, and Hampton have as many as three games in hand on the teams above them. Of course, as the old cliche says: points on the board are better than games in hand, but if you’re in form when those extra matches come around, then it can end up being a blessing in disguise that they were postponed in the first place. Every player in the squad will get plenty of time on the pitch, and it will be up to them to show that they are worthy of a place in the team.

Back in August, I predicted – rather biased perhaps – that Hampton would win the playoffs and gain promotion back to Step Two. Who knows, despite the weather’s best attempts to derail our season, maybe I will be proved right!

Moone Double Seals Late Win For Beavers

A brace of brilliant finishes from top scorer Charlie Moone earned a hard fought victory for Hampton on their second trip to Essex in a fortnight. Read the rest of this entry

Late Show Gives Beavers First Home Win

Four goals in the last sixteen minutes gave Hampton & Richmond Borough their first home league win of the season against bottom side Cray Wanderers. Going into the match, Hampton had lost all three of their previous home league encounters, whilst Cray had lost each of their three games on the road.

The first half was a virtual non event, with Hampton unable to break down a stubborn Cray side. There were absolutely no shots of note on target, with only off target efforts from Tom Hickey and Joel Ledgister for the home side, while a tame effort from Cray frontman Tommy Whitnell was easily dealt with by Rodney Chiweshe, who threw his proverbial cap on the shot.

The second half, though, was a completely different story. Hampton started to grow into the game, becoming ever slightly more dangerous every time they attacked. Tom Hickey, on his way to earning my man of the match award, played in Ledgister with a great pass, but the striker – fresh from an FA Cup hattrick at the weekend – poked his shot wide. Jordan Rocastle, making his first start for the club after impressing from the bench in recent weeks, had his first serious sight of goal just after the hour mark, but his smart turn and shot curled just wide of Andy Walker's left hand upright. Two minutes later, Rocastle again missed the same upright, prodding an effort agonisingly wide. Still, the signs were encouraging for the home fans.

As has been the case in recent games, the substitutions made by joint managers Paul Barry and Darren Powell made all the difference. James Simmonds and Charlie Moone replaced Ledgister and Alex Parsons for the final twenty minutes, and it wasn't long before they were influencing the game. Before that, though, Hampton took the lead; young left back George Wells scored his first goal for the club, his tentative effort taking a sizeable deflection to leave Walker wrong footed. Wells was mobbed by his teammates, and you could tell how much of a relief it was for that to go in.

The goal seemed to have a huge effect on the two teams. While Hampton visibly grew in confidence, you could see the Cray team drop their collective heads. Not surprising, though, when you consider they have been beaten 5-0, 6-1 and 7-1 already this season, and were dumped out of the FA Cup at the weekend at home to a team from the division below.

Two minutes after the goal, Joe Turner, having another excellent game on the right, cut in and fizzed a fierce drive which Walker beat away well, before Tommy Brewer hit a shot that narrowly missed the top corner. Cray did have a couple of golden opportunities to level, though, with Chiweshe saving bravely at the feet of Marcus Ekeh, and then Whitnell fired wide when clean through. In between those chances, Rocastle again narrowly missed the target, his shot just clearing the crossbar after a surging break down the right by Turner.

Into the last ten minutes, and the aforementioned subs, Moone and Simmonds, put the Cray defence to the sword. On 81, Simmonds got the ball on the left and crossed superbly to the back post, where Joe Turner thundered a header past Walker to give the home team some breathing space. Five minutes later, Wells picked out Moone, and the fans' favourite fired home left footed from the edge of the box, with Walker flatfooted. And in the last minute, Simmonds scored the goal of the game. Joe Turner lifted a super ball up to Simmonds, who controlled brilliantly before lobbing the stranded Walker. There was still time for Moone t hit a stoppage time shot which brought the best save of the game, Walker tipping the effort over acrobatically.

All in all, then, and excellent, and ultimately deserved win for Hampton, even if they did leave it late! As for my man of the match, it was definitely Tom Hickey. The midfielder broke up play well and his passing was also excellent, starting off many of the Hampton attacks.

Hampton & Richmond Borough 4 (Wells 74, Turner 81, Moone 86, Simmonds 89)

Cray Wanderers 0

Attendance 149

Hampton: Chiweshe, Case, Wells, Hickey, Rose, Lake(c), Turner, Brewer, Rocastle (Carder 84), Ledgister (Moone 70), Parsons (Simmonds 70). Unused subs: Mills, Pilgram.

Cray Wanderers: Walker, Coleman (Ogunbiyi 83), Sessegnon, Stavrinou, Day(c), Cook, Robertson-Feehi, Saunders (Wybrow 40), Ekeh, Whitnell, Fray. Unused subs: Eshilokun, Fatai, Edgar.

Raring To Go! Ryman Premier Preview 2013-14

Well, here we go once again. We are now just days away from the start of the Isthmian League season, so here’s my preview of the Premier Division. Read the rest of this entry

Thurrock Situation Needs Sorting. Fast.

How the fiasco surrounding Thurrock FC’s points deduction and subsequent relegation and appeal could cause havoc for the upcoming Ryman League Premier Division. Read the rest of this entry

Beachboys In Conference South!

Concord Rangers blogger Alan Jessup-Peacock takes a break from celebrating his club’s promotion to jot down a few words on the subject! Read the rest of this entry

Beavers End Season With A Win

Hampton & Richmond Borough ended a disappointing 2012-13 with a fine performance and win against Bognor Regis Town which saw them leapfrog their opponents in the Ryman League Premier Division table. Read the rest of this entry

A Bit Of A Mixed Bag

Alan Jessup-Peacock updates us on Concord Rangers’ season so far, as the Beachboys are almost assured of a playoff place. Read the rest of this entry

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