Lowestoft Town made the 340 mile round trip to Hampton and left with all three points thanks to a dramatic first half which saw two goals and two red cards.
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.
Myself 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.
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.
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?
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.
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
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!
Seven clean sheets in the first eight games of the season, and joint top of the Isthmian League Premier Division table, not to mention still in the FA Cup. What a dream start to the season for Hampton & Richmond Borough! Read the rest of this entry
Another unhappy night for the team as Salisbury managed to convert the precious few chances they made, the second goal wasn’t even a proper shot but in the end not even Dean Inman’s 3rd goal of the season in stoppage made much of a difference, writes Rob Overfield.
The Beavers started the better and on 18 minutes, Tarpey managed to get through; turning inside and beating two defenders, but Salisbury keeper Puddy was equal to it and tipped it wide. More of the chances were coming the Beavers way; Tarpey had another shot blocked, Simmonds header ballooned over and it just looked a matter of time before they took the lead. Nathan Collier looked to have created a good chance with a mazy run into the box, but when he got there, the ball suddenly developed a mind of its own and got caught under his feet, giving the Salisbury defenders a chance to clear the ball. The first half was drawing to its close when, against the run of play, Salisbury took the lead. Lossasso collected the rebound fromGriffin’s attempt and accurately placed a bobbling shot past the diving Ross into the corner of the net. The frustration in the team was beginning to show and the half time break looked to be much needed but in the last action of the half, Salisbury freakishly doubled the lead. Danny Webb chased a loose cross, catching up close to the by-line, and more in hope than expectation, lobbed the ball back into the goalmouth. It looped high and slothfully into the air, looking like it was going over the bar but it quickly dipped and dropped into the opposite side of the goal, to everyone’s shock and amazement. HT HRBFC 0 Salisbury 2
The second half turned into Beavers dominance; Tarpey had two clear opportunities within 5 minutes of the restart, hitting one shot at Puddy and then only managing to direct a simple header into Puddy’s hand after a neat cross from Reece Jones. Tarpey was the recipient of most of the chances but the touch that had seen him score 24 goals deserted him; put through by Powell, his shot was blocked by Puddy and Reece Jones could do nothing with the rebound. James Simmonds wasn’t to be ignored and with just 20 mins left on the clock, his attempt went wildly over after Darren Powell had created the opening. Time was running out for the Beavers, and Salisbury nearly caught them on the counter with 5 minutes to go but the shot was scrambled wide. Hampton fought back, Karle Andrews playing a delightful pass through the Salisbury defence but Tarpey had the ball taken off his feet by Puddy in a desperate dive. One of the chances was sure to be converted and as stoppage time began, some 5 minutes in total, the Beavers finally did get that goal. A corner had been forced and the box was crowded with Powell and Inman taking their places; the cross was only half cleared to Inman who with his back to goal, lifted it over his head past Puddy for the best goal he’ll get this year. It was late but was it too late? With time almost up, another corner to the beavers was awarded, and Inman again came storming in at the back post to meet Ferrell’s cross; his powerful header was on target but was straight at the flying Puddy, who clawed the ball away, saving the win for the Whites. This was a winnable game but the efforts of Puddy in the Whites’ goal meant it was not to be.
Hampton now have just three games left to preserve their Conference South status, starting with a home game against high flying Welling United this Saturday.
Many thanks to Rob Overfield for this report. Rob is the Press Officer at the Beveree Stadium, and he can be found on twitter here. The club are also on twitter, and you can visit their website by clicking here.
In a disappointing and ultimately fruitless journey to the south coast, the Beavers came home having dropped 3 points to relegation rivals, having Darren Powell nursing a niggle and with Dean Inman facing his 3rd suspension of the season, being dismissed for two bookable offences again, writes Rob Overfield. Read the rest of this entry
A look at some more of the frontmen blazing a trail in the non-league game. Read the rest of this entry
Hampton & Richmond Borough won the 119th Middlesex Senior Cup Final thanks to second half goals from James Simmonds and Dave Tarpey. Read the rest of this entry
Dave Tarpey’s 23rd goal of the season enabled the Beavers to take an unexpected but ultimately deserved victory over a Dover line up that looked jaded, and not in the kind of form you’d expect of a playoff chasing team, writes Rob Overfield. Read the rest of this entry