Hampton & Richmond Borough suffer their third straight home defeat in the Ryman Premier League against Bury Town, and are on the sharp end of some questionable decisions from the officials in the process.
Hampton manager Mark Harper was forced into a change to the starting lineup, with Karle Carder replacing the absent James Simmonds in midfield. For the whole of the first half, Hampton were dominant in every aspect of the match. From as early as the second minute, when Joe Turner dragged a shot wide, Hampton were pretty much camped in the visitor’s half.
Three minutes after that, Kamara’s driving run down the right saw him cross for Charlie Moone, who could only head over while stretching for the ball. Moone was at the thick end of everything that Hampton created, and in the sixteenth minute he went agonisingly close with a delightful lob that looked for all the earth that it was going to drop in. Instead, it dropped the wrong side of the crossbar. The chances kept coming for the home side; Mo Harkin cut in from the left but shot wide, and midway through the half Moone should have scored. He got clean through and bore down on goal, but fired his shot past the far post. He again went close six minutes later, hitting a stunning volley that Town goalkeeper Marcus Garnham palmed wide for a corner.
From that corner, though, Hampton took the lead that their play so richly deserved. Left back Neil Jenkins scored with a brilliant looping header that seemed to float forever into the corner of the net. It should have been the start of a rout, but the away goal continued to lead a charmed life. Jenkins seemed to have the taste for goals, as a minute after scoring, he was rampaging forward again, and hit a thunderous shot that Garnham palmed away. Moone then fired a left foot curler from just outside the box that was blocked. From my angle right behind said shot, I think Garnham might have struggled to deal with it had the shot got through.
Hampton’s utter dominance continued for the final ten minutes of the first half, Carder hit a screamer that Garnham beat away, and Joe Turner missed a gilt edged opportunity, blazing over from twelve yards with the goal pretty much at his mercy. Carder then played a wonderful lobbed through ball to Moone, but he was forced wide and his tame shot was easily dealt with by Garnham. The first of the bad decisions from the match referee came in the final minute of the half. Moone was clearly tripped in the box when he was about to shoot, but the ref waved play on unbelievably, and there was a bit of an altercation between Moone and Sam Nunn, with the latter getting booked.
If you think this report seems a little biased towards Hampton, trust me it’s not! Bury Town never had a shot, and barely crossed the halfway line for the whole of the first forty five minutes. That said, the score at the interval was only 1-0.
As the second half kicked off, I thought two things. First, how many times do we see a team dominate and then get punished for not taking their chances? And secondly, that surely there was no way that Bury Town wouldn’t have a shot on goal for the whole match. As it pans out, it took just three minutes for both points to be answered. Joe Ledgister shot straight at Garnham, and from the goalkeeper’s clearance, Town levelled the score. The ball fell to John Sands twenty five yards out, and he volleyed in superbly, with Rodney Chiweshe helpless at full stretch. Ten minutes later, and Town brought their shots to goal ratio to two for two. It was another superb shot to be fair, Craig Parker curling in first time from twenty five yards. Both goals were goal of the season contenders, and turned the game on it’s head. Sands got through just after the hour, but Chiweshe saved well, before the referee again got involved with a poor decision. Parker got his second of the match from the penalty spot after a Bury player went down way too easily and then grabbed the ball. It was not even in the same ballpark as the foul on Moone in the first half, yet the referee saw fit to point to the spot. Parker sent Chiweshe the wrong way to give the visitors an undeserved two goal cushion. Trust me though, the bad decisions weren’t finished there!
Borough did get themselves back into the match with eighteen minutes left when Joel Ledgister crossed to the back stick where Charlie Moone got his deserved goal, heading home emphatically. Hampton continued to press for an equaliser, first Gary Holloway headed inches wide from a corner, and then Darren Powell headed straight at Garnham. With four minutes left, Ledgister crossed for Moone, who volleyed home. The players and fans celebrated, but the realisation eventually dawned that the assistant referee had his flag up for offside. Quite how he came to that decision is beyond me. The cross was square at best, and Moone was level with the defender, but the goal was chalked off anyway. Ledgister then had a shot blocked for a corner, and Powell nearly scored at the death from said corner. He had two headers but couldn’t force the leveller. In amongst all this drama, Hampton were denied a clear penalty for handball on two occasions as shots rained in. The referee had a clear view of both incidents, yet it can only be said that he bottled it. The fact that every single Hampton player immediately claimed both is a good indication. As the pundits say, it’s the player’s reactions in these situations that are the most telling.
And so it finished, and a frustrating, and ultimately undeserved, defeat for The Beavers. This was their fourth straight league loss, and their fifth in six games. The result sees Hampton slip down to eighth in the table, while Bury Town climb to fourth.
Bury Town 3
Sands 49 & 64