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
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.
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