The final match of the season, and with nothing at stake for either team we looked forward to a good attractive game of football from two of the top teams in the league. What we got unfortunately was a rather niggly nasty affair that didn't do credit to either side. Sports started with two changes from last week, Nat Carney in place of Will Ireland and Matt Watson replacing Sam Gibbs, but it was evident from the start that Chickerell were taking no prisoners and with the referee keeping his head down, the Westland players began to react and so the tone was set for the afternoon.
Sports normally reliable defence were looking a bit shaky early on and we lost an early goal after only five minutes. Nick Wilton pulled a Chickerell player back by the arm and we conceded a soft free kick out on the left wing. The ball was fizzed across the box and with Sports defence static it cannoned off Phil Wells leg and rolled agonisingly into the corner of the net with Sports keeper Luke Silcox trying desperately to claw it back. A soft goal to lose but we gradually got back into the game and equalised after 15 minutes. Leo Hayward thumped a free kick at goal low and hard and their keeper spilled it to MATT WATSON who knocked it in. It was a scrappy match and in the 20th minute we went behind again to another soft goal. Stu Smith tried a passback to the keeper up the hill and left it woefully short. The Chickerell centre forward ran on and slotted the ball into the corner to put us 2-1 down. Neither side could create much after this. Sports were kicking downhill and were finding the ball tended to run away from our forwards who like to attack at pace. Westlands defence had now tightened up a bit so the Chickerell forwards were stifled and the two teams played out a bit of a stalemate until half time arrived with Westlands still a goal down.
Half time thoughts were mixed from the Westland supporters. There was an opinion that Sports would be better kicking up the hill when the through balls would hold up a bit. Anyway we were looking to both sides to up their game in the second half and show us some good football. During the break Sports took off George Rigby who was struggling with an injury and he was replaced by Sol Carney.
After some early sparring we had some drama in the 55th minute. A ball over the top from Chickerell caught our defence square and their forward ran on to the ball. He was chased into the box by Nick Wilton who made a desperate lunging tackle from behind and brought the lad down. The ref pointed to the spot and I don't think we can complain too much about that but he then made it a double whammy for Sports by brandishing a red card. Things were looking black for Westlands at this point facing a 3-1 deficit and down to 10 men, but our young keeper Luke Silcox had other ideas and dived to his right to turn the spot kick round the post for a corner. Wonderful save by Luke but not entirely unexpected as he has a bit of a reputation for saving penalties. That was a big moment in the game and seemed to inspire Westlands as there was definitely a bit more zip in the play now. Stu Smith was then forced off with an injury and he was replaced by the experienced Sam Gibbs at the back. A couple of minutes later we were level at 2-2. A free kick was flighted into the Chickerell box and was only half cleared as far as JOSH PAYNE who hit it on the volley and buried the ball in the far corner. This was more like it from Sports and we were definitely on top now and the Chickerell defence were looking a bit stressed. The next major incident came when Louis Irwin burst into the Chickerell box and was felled by a lunging tackle from behind that looked almost identical to Nick Wilton's earlier. This time however, the referee unbelievably waved play on claiming the defender had played the ball. I think everyone in the ground agreed it was a stonewall penalty and the fact that we had been severely punished earlier made it a bitter pill to swallow. However Westlands had their tails up now and were driving up the hill putting the Chickerell defence under increasing pressure. Nat Carney was taken out knee high which earned a Chickerell player a yellow card and when Josh Payne was given similar treatment a few minutes later all hell broke loose. What started as a minor 'handbags' incident was escalated when the Chickerell skipper, who had been pushed in the chest, threw himself to the ground and pretended he had been assaulted. It was comical really and even the Chickerell supporters down behind the goal were shaking their heads in embarrassment. Nevertheless his play-acting sparked off a mass confrontation and an invasion of the pitch by both benches. Credit to the referee he eventually calmed things down and the Chickerell skipper, who had made the tackle that kicked it all off, was shown a yellow card. Both teams were lucky that the referee did not deal out more punishments for the incident which did neither team any credit. When we settled down to football again it was still the ten man Westlands who were pushing for a winner. Chickerell did have a good break but Luke Silcox again came to Sports rescue with a cat like dive to smother a shot. Going into the last few minutes the Chickerell defenders were asking the referee for the final whistle as they hung on for a draw.
On reflection a draw was a good result under the circumstances and means we keep our unbeaten run going through to the end. Had we not won the league at Sturminster Newton last saturday we would have needed a point at Chickerell today so it was job done in that respect. We didn't perform to our best on the day but to be fair the lads have done it when it counted and that showed character and resolve when the chips were down.
Westlands lineup:- L.Silcox; M.Watson, S.Smith, N.Wilton; N.Carney, G.Rigby, L.Irwin, Sam Carney, P.Wells; J.Payne, L.Hayward. Subs; Sol Carney, S.Gibbs, J.Bundy.
Saturday 3rd May 2014, Dorset Senior League
STURMINSTER NEWTON 0 WESTLAND SPORTS 5
This was the big one for Sports, probably our biggest game of the season. We needed three points from our last two games to clinch the league title, but with our last match being a tough visit to Chickerell, the only team to have beaten us in the league this season, we wanted to do the job today. Westlands had only one change from last week, Sam Carney came into the midfield with Sam Gibbs dropping back into defence. The players knew the importance of the game and were obviously well up for it but there was a rather subdued atmosphere at the ground before the match. Perhaps it was the hot sunny day with a shirt-sleeved crowd basking on the grass, or perhaps it was the pitch which was hard with a lush covering of grass and daisies, but either way there was a distinct summery 'end of season' feel as the match kicked off.
Westlands showed some early nervousness, having difficulty controlling the ball on the lively surface but still we created an early chance when Leo Hayward had a snap shot blocked for a corner. We were having some joy down our left wing and Phil Wells broke into the box only to slice his shot wide. In the tenth minute a Stur player thumped in a good shot on target but Luke Silcox dealt with it. Stur were enjoying some good possession in midfield and their left winger was causing us a few problems with some decent deliveries into the box. In the 14th minute we had a let-off when another good cross from the Stur left saw their centre forward rise unchallenged and his thumping header came off the far post with Luke Silcox beaten. This was perhaps the wakeup call we had needed as after some strong words from the manager we took the lead three minutes later. Phil Wells won the ball in midfield, drew in their right back and slipped a nice ball down the wing to LEO HAYWARD who cut in and fired a lovely shot past the keeper which just crept in at the far post. Just what we needed to calm the nerves and we now began to dominate the game, with more chances beginning to come our way. Some good interplay between Stu Smith and Josh Payne ended with George Rigby firing a shot just over the top and on the half hour mark their keeper made an excellent double save from Leo Hayward and Louis Irwin who had followed up for the rebound. After 35 minutes Josh Payne cut in and shot just wide as Sports kept the pressure on. We were having a lot of joy now down the left wing and a couple of minutes later a lovely crossfield passing move ended with JOSH PAYNE picking up the ball on the left, cutting inside the full back again, and slotting the ball into the far corner in almost a repeat of the first goal. The pressure was really off the Westland players now and the opposition heads were down a bit. In the 40th minute Louis Irwin put a header just over the top but the Stur defence were looking a bit ragged now and we took advantage to hit them with a deadly one-two in the four minutes before the break. Leo Hayward set up the third goal, driving the ball across the goalmouth for JOSH PAYNE to slide in at the far post and turn the ball into the net. The next goal was similar, JOSH PAYNE again netting from close range after a cross from the right. A clinical hat-trick within 7 minutes from Josh had put Sports into an unassailable 4 goal lead and just before the half-time whistle he almost added another with a header that just cleared the crossbar.
Four-nil at half time was game over really, both teams knew it and subsequently the second half was a bit of a non-event apart from the first minute when Sports scored a stunning fifth goal. Josh Payne picked the ball up in a deep position and lobbed the ball over the square Stur defence to the onrushing LEO HAYWARD who hit it superbly on the volley past the startled keeper who could only watch as the ball hit the back of the net. A super goal and a definite candidate for 'goal of the season'. That goal signalled three substitutions for Westlands with Nat Carney, Joe Burgess and Matt Watson all taking the field. On the hour Will Ireland had a sight of goal but blazed his shot over and this was followed by a little bit of excitement when Matt Watson got involved in a bit of a fracas with an opponent which saw them both get yellows. On another day they could have been reds so both players can count themselves a bit lucky. Stur Newton had the next chance with about 20 minutes to go but the shot slipped by the post. A nice ball from Josh Payne then gave Sam Gibbs a shooting opportunity but his shot curled just over. Stu Smith was next to try and get himself on the scoresheet but his low shot just missed the target. With a couple of minutes to go a Stur player blasted over from a good position and saved our clean sheet.
The players champagne celebrations in the dressing room afterwards were well deserved for the effort they made during our run-in for the title. Some of the stats show just what an outstanding achievement it was. Sports finished the season with 11 straight victories, 7 of which were away from home. They kept an amazing 8 clean sheets in those 11 games, scoring 39 goals for the loss of only 6. Still one game to go, of course, but now its one to relax and enjoy so we look forward to that.
Westlands lineup;- L.Silcox; S.Gibbs, S.Smith, N.Wilton; W.Ireland, Sam Carney, L.Irwin, G.Rigby, P.Wells; J.Payne, L.Hayward. Subs: M.Watson, J.Burgess, N.Carney, Sol Carney.
Saturday 26th April 2014, Dorset Senior League
KINGSTON LACY 0 WESTLAND SPORTS 1
We knew this was going to be a tough match as Lacy would be able to beef up their team with a few Merley Cobham players from the DPL as they didn't have a game. However, thats the way it goes and we were still confident we could get a result regardless of their line-up. Westlands made three changes from Monday's match with Stu Smith and Josh Payne coming back in and Luke Silcox replacing the missing Jason Bundy in goal.
Westlands were caught napping in the first minute when a long ball over the top put their centre forward clean through on our goal. After seeming to hesitate, Luke Silcox redeemed himself by clawing the ball away as the shot went over his body. A couple of minutes later Phil Wells blocked a shot for a corner as the home side looked for an early goal. From the corner a Lacy player missed a sitter, putting the ball wide when he should have scored. Westlands had not switched on yet and were standing looking at each other. However, after 8 minutes we at last carved out a good opening. Louis Irwin burst down the left, fed a good pass to Leo Hayward but he fired over the top. A couple of minutes later George Rigby put a powerful header just over. We had woken from our slumbers now and the pressure was on the home team. Stu Smith got his head to a corner but couldn't keep it on target and after another good break Phil Wells shot was saved by the keeper. After 20 minutes Luke Silcox made a great double save to keep the score level and five minutes later Lacy had a free kick in a dangerous position but they blasted the shot well over the bar. With half-an-hour gone both sides had missed chances but in the last 15 minutes of the half it was Westlands who took control. We had three good chances during this spell but failed to make any of them count. Josh Payne burst through the home defence and as the keeper came out rolled the ball past him, Unfortunately the ball deflected off his foot just enough to take it past the post. Then Leo Hayward cut in from the left but he leaned back and lifted the ball way over the crossbar. Finally, Josh Payne had another chance but his shot went straight into the grateful arms of the Kingston Lacy keeper.
The general opinion in the Westlands camp at half-time was that we could have been ahead if we had cashed in on some of the chances we had made but in fairness Kingston Lacy had let us off the hook a couple of times as well so it could have gone either way. Nevertheless we felt we could play a lot better and if we stepped it up we could win this one.
Sports came out for the second period on the front foot pushing forward into the opposition half and George Rigby, who had been strong in Westland's midfield, had a good shot tipped round for a corner. The corner was cleared but after only four minutes of the half, we opened the scoring. Leo Hayward made good headway down the left wing but when he cut in and let fly his shot was blocked by the keeper. But waiting on hand to smash the ball home was LOUIS IRWIN whose runs into the box are proving very fruitful at the moment. A crucial goal in the context of the game and another great contribution from a young player who has hit goalscoring form at just the right time for the team. Sports made a substitution now with Nat Carney replacing Matt Watson and we pushed on to try and add to our lead. Josh Payne made a good run and he fed Louis Irwin whose shot was blocked for a corner. In the 57th minute Sam Gibbs had a shot at goal also deflected for a corner but a few minutes later we had a bit of a let off. A Kingston Lacy corner was played back out to the winger whose cross was turned into the net at close range. Luckily the goal was ruled out for offside which looked about right from my viewpoint as three players looked to be in offside positions. Their bench went ballistic but that's par for the course. They put us under a bit of pressure after this but we did what we had to do, getting men behind the ball and defending in numbers. There were no more real scares and for the remainder of the game we came back and dominated proceedings. Leo Hayward was taken off at this point and replaced by Sol Carney for the last 15 minutes. Next Louis Irwin raced onto a through ball and I'd have put money on him scoring but the keeper came out to block well. As the minutes ticked away the next chance fell to Nat Carney just outside the box but he blazed his shot high over the changing rooms. A couple of minutes later the ball fell again to Nat about 20 yards out and this time he kept his head down and his rising drive hit the crossbar and went over. That was the last of the action and with such a slender lead it was a bit of a relief to hear the final whistle.
Reflecting over a beer after the match we felt we had deserved the victory but had made it hard work for ourselves by a lack of composure at times in front of goal. Nevertheless, when we had to defend, we defended well and another clean sheet secures another valuable three points.
Westlands lineup:- L.Silcox; M.Watson, S.Smith, N.Wilton; W.Ireland, S.Gibbs, L.Irwin, G.Rigby, P.Wells; J.Payne, L.Hayward. Subs; Sam Carney, Sol Carney, N.Carney.
Monday 21st April 2014, Dorset Senior League
WESTLAND SPORTS 3 WITCHAMPTON UTD 0
A good crowd turned out to see Westland's last home match of the season but unfortunately they were not treated to a vintage display by Sports. It has to be remembered that this was our third game in 6 days and even professionals wouldn't be asked to play that often without proper recovery time. Westlands made only one change from saturday's good win at Upwey & Broadwey, Nat Carney replacing Henry Lawrence-Napier in midfield. Witchampton, with their mid-table place secure, looked as though they had problems as they had only the bare 11 players on duty. However they were a big side with the centre-forward being over 7 foot tall (no exaggeration !) and several more well over 6 feet.
The game started at a leisurely pace with Witchampton casually knocking the ball around and it was clear Sports had a little bit more intent in their play as they tried to mount some early pressure. In the 5th minute we went one-nil up. A long ball through the middle was overhit and the keeper came out to clear. Under pressure from LOUIS IRWIN he made a complete hash of his clearance somehow slicing the ball across the front of his goal giving Louis a tap in. A nice early goal to settle any nerves and from then on it was pretty much one way traffic with Sports huffing and puffing but finding it difficult to break down an experienced Witchampton defence. Louis Irwin had a shot saved by the keeper and George Rigby fired a good shot just over the top. In the 32nd minute we scored again in a repeat of the first goal. A through ball was chased by LOUIS IRWIN and once again the keeper came out and fluffed his attempt at a clearance leaving Louis to walk the ball into the empty net. It just shows there are no lost causes and if you put the keeper under pressure anything can happen. The rest of the half continued in the same vein with Westlands pushing forward. In the 34th minute Leo Hayward burst through and set up Louis Irwin but the shot went past the post. Two minutes later, Louis returned the compliment setting up Leo but he scuffed his shot wide. A corner from the right nearly brought Sports a third goal in the 40th minute when Matt Watson's header rebounded off the crossbar and the final chance of the half fell to Leo Hayward who stung the keeper's fingers with a shot on the turn.
A 2-0 half-time lead looked a pretty safe situation for Westlands as Witchampton didn't really create any chances in the first half although they had played some decent football. Understandably, although not at their best, Sports had shown greater urgency and if they could keep it going the points should be safe. At half-time we made a substitution with evergreen midfielder Sam Gibbs being given a breather after two outstanding displays over the weekend. Sol Carney took the field to join his brother Nat in the midfield.
As in the first half, Sports were on the front foot from the start but were still unable to break down the stubborn visitor's defence. Josh Payne was brought on in the 55th minute to inject some more pace into the Westlands attack and he replaced George Rigby who had also played a couple of big games for the team over the weekend and would be needed for the battles ahead. Josh Payne was giving the Witchampton defenders a different problem now with his direct running and chances began to be created. Matt Watson headed wide from a corner and then Joe Burgess broke down the left and fired over a cross which nearly caught the keeper out, bouncing off the crossbar to safety. In the 75th minute Josh Payne raced through the opposition defence but blasted wide with just the keeper to beat. A minute later Josh created another good opportunity for himself but lobbed the ball over the bar. In 78 minutes we got the third goal that we wanted to make the points absolutely safe. The veteran Witchampton centre-half, who had been a tower of strength all afternoon, gave the ball away with a tired pass that let Leo Hayward run in on goal. When he tried to square the ball it struck the arm of a defender who made a desparate lunge to prevent the cross. The referee immediately pointed to the spot for a penalty. Was it deliberate handball ? Definitely not, but when the arm is flailing high in the air and the ball hits it the referee is always going to give a penalty. Anyway, with his second hat-trick of the weekend beckoning, it had to be LOUIS IRWIN's penalty and he despatched his kick confidently into the corner giving the keeper no chance. Amazing really how history had repeated itself with Louis' two hat-tricks being completed from the penalty spot. The match petered out now with the points safe but Matt Watson decided to get himself a yellow card for kicking the ball away ! In the dying minutes the Witchampton keeper tipped a shot from the lively Sol Carney round the post as Sports tried to add to their tally.
As stated before, not the best Westland's performance but under the circumstances its a good result after a hard week so well done to the whole squad for three excellent victories in six days with 18 goals scored and only one conceded. Is this league winning form ? We shall see.
This was bound to be a tough test at Redlands and with Josh Payne unavailable Louis Irwin was restored to the starting line-up in an otherwise unchanged team. At least, that was the plan until Stu Smith failed a pre-match fitness test with a recurrence of the injury that had forced him off at half-time on Wednesday. Phil Wells switched to central defence and Joe Burgess started wide left as we kicked off on another sunny afternoon.
Upwey & Brodway immediately took control of the ball and forced an early corner almost straight from the kick-off. The inswinger into a crowded box was punched clear by Sports keeper Jason Bundy but fell to an Upwey player on the edge of the box but he blasted his shot well over the top. It took Sports about 5 minutes to gradually find their feet and our first sniff at goal came to George Rigby but he scuffed his shot wide. Sports were beginning to show their teeth now and a couple of minutes later Louis Irwin burst through hosts defence but he dragged his shot wide of the far post. Upwey were looking a good side in possession going forward but they had a soft centre and Sports exposed that in the 12th minute. Joe Burgess fed a pinpoint long pass down the left wing to Leo Hayward who took off at pace outstripping the opposition defence. As Leo cut inside he drew more defenders to him leaving LOUIS IRWIN unmarked in the centre and when the pass was delivered he coolly picked his spot. A good start for Sports and just what we wanted. We were causing them some real problems at the back now and in the 16th minute Leo Hayward blazed wide after being set up by Sam Gibbs. A minute later we doubled our lead. Another good ball in behind Upwey's defence put Louis Irwin away and his cross to SAM GIBBS was bundled into the net after the ball took a nasty bobble. Although we were now 2 in front, our opponents were always in the game and they had the lion's share of possession for the rest of the half. But for all their possession they could not break down a Sports team, well marshalled by Phil Wells, that were defending in numbers and showing great concentration to win headers and block shots. We were happy to hold out until half-time at 2-0 but, with a minute of the half remaining, once again the Upwey & Broadwey defence were undone by a simple ball in behind. Leo Hayward was once again the recipient, racing into the box and slipping the ball square to LOUIS IRWIN who had a touch before sending his shot into the top corner. So, half-time and a 3-0 scoreline to Sports was more than we could realistically have hoped for.
Henry Lawrence-Napier had taken a knock and he was substituted at half time with Nat Carney his replacement.
Upwey & Broadwey came out for the second half with nothing to lose and almost pulled one back when a lovely curling shot hit the bar with Jason Bundy beaten. Sports made another substitution at this point with Sol Carney replacing George Rigby. With 55 minutes on the clock we made the game safe and virtually killed off any hopes our opponents had of a fight back. Sam Gibbs flighted a nice free kick beyond the far post to Matt Watson who won the header and put the ball back across goal to LEO HAYWARD who banged it into the back of the net. Sports were now forced to defend for virtually the last half hour of the match and once again they did so superbly, getting back in numbers to deny the opposition space. We did have a couple of scares as Upwey, with nothing to lose, threw more men forward into attack, including their keeper at one point ! Nevertheless we stayed strong until the 86th minute when they pulled one back. A long ball forward was missed by a tiring defender and their attacker thumped the ball in. A minute later they almost made it two when a curling shot was heading for the top corner until Jason Bundy made a spectacular save, tipping the ball round the post. In the last minute a ball was knocked over the top of their defence and as their keeper charged out he was beaten to the ball by Louis Irwin who was then unceremoniously taken out. The keeper was lucky to stay on the pitch, not only for the tackle but also for the foul-mouthed abuse he gave Louis as he lay on the floor. Anyway, in order to complete his hat-trick LOUIS IRWIN took the kick himself and drilled the ball past the keeper taking Sports final total to five.
The final scoreline of 5-1 was an excellent result for us and another valuable three points. But really the team performance had been good with everyone working their socks off for the cause. The team tactics were spot on for a difficult away game, getting numbers behind the ball and hitting the the opposition with fast breaks. Also our finishing was clinical when the chances came. Another good day for Westlands.
Midweek games can sometimes be a problem with players unavailable due to work commitments etc but Sports looked to have a strong lineup for this match. Matt Watson and Henry Lawrence-Napier came into the starting lineup and there was a welcome return to the bench for Mike Rousell after a lengthy lay-off due to suspension/injury. In fact, it looked as if it was the opposition who had selection problems as a number of their regulars were missing. The pitch was in perfect condition and with the sun shining the conditions were ideal for the match.
In the opening few minutes Westlands were a bit cagy as they tried to settle into the conditions. Passes were going astray and the home side took early advantage with a bit of pressure but no chances were created. In the 7th minute a long ball out of Sports defence caught the Cheriton defence flat-footed. Josh Payne sprinted through, prodded the ball past the onrushing keeper and from a tight angle cut the ball across the face of the empty goal where HENRY LAWRENCE-NAPIER squeezed it in at the far post. A just reward for Henry as he had sprinted about 50 yards to get on the end of the cross. Just the start we wanted and as Sports relaxed the Cheriton heads went down with inevitable consequences. Only a minute after the opening goal, Stu Smith (?) took a short corner to LEO HAYWARD who cut inside past two defenders and scored with a good shot from the edge of the box. The floodgates were now open and in the 20th minute we made it three. A long diagonal free-kick by Sam Gibbs was headed into the back of the net by STU SMITH at the far post. Josh Payne was tormenting the hosts defence now and in the 25th minute he laid the ball back to WILL IRELAND whose daisy-cutter from the edge of the box found the corner of the net through a crowd of players. The next good chance fell to Josh Payne who smashed a shot off the crossbar which rebounded to safety. With five minutes left of the half we made it 5-0. Leo Hayward ran at the opposition defence then slipped in JOSH PAYNE who ran through and dinked the ball over the keeper. In the dying moments of the half, South Cheriton created their best chance when Jason Bundy in Sports goal hade to tip a goal-bound shot round the post. Manager Stu Smith then took himself off and he was replaced by Joe Burgess for the final few minutes of the half.
At 5-0 the points were in the bag but we just needed to keep thing going, keep the clean sheet and perhaps improve our goal difference. At the break we made another change with Mike Rousell coming on in place of Will Ireland.
Mike quickly got involved in the action and after a couple of minutes had a shot on target saved by the keeper. Sports then made their final substitution of the match with Jake Wolfe coming on in place of Nick Wilton. Leo Hayward had another chance when he lobbed the keeper but unfortunately the crossbar as well ! Sam Gibbs then rattled the bar with a free kick before the inevitable 6th goal came in the 55th minute. A ball over the top saw JOSH PAYNE outstrip the flagging home defence to slide the ball into the far corner. A minute later a nice passing move involving several players was finished by LEO HAYWARD who banged in number seven. Still the goals kept coming, in the 66th minute a nice flick from Josh Payne gave MIKE ROUSELL an opening and he buried it in the top corner. That was eight and the ninth was not long coming. Leo put Josh away and he drew the keeper before squaring the ball back to LEO HAYWARD for an easy tap-in. The final goal, our tenth, came in the 75th minute when Leo laid the ball off to MIKE ROUSELL who buried it in the far corner. In the final 15 minutes there were no more goals and the home team were able to enjoy a little spell of pressure although they didn't manage to create any goalscoring chances.
In the pre-match analysis we thought this might be a tricky fixture so we were delighted to come away with a good result. The Cheriton defence just couldn't cope with the pace of Sports attacks and they were run ragged. Another clean sheet was a bonus and testiment to some good defending as well from Westlands.
A big game this one, first versus second, so all to play for under perfect conditions. Manager Stu Smith went for experience in defence with Sam Gibbs dropping back, but he showed great faith in his players by selecting two 16 year-olds, Sol Carney and Louis Irwin, to partner 20 year-old George Rigby in the midfield.
The match started at a hectic pace with neither team having any time on the ball. This resulted in both sides tending to hit longer balls rather than get caught in possession at the back. This type of match actually suited Westlands more with our pace up front whereas our opponents were trying to hit a big striker who played with his back to goal. This was demonstrated after 10 minutes when a lovely pass over the top from Sam Gibbs put Josh Payne away. Josh went round the keeper but his finish from an acute angle agonisingly hit the far post and bounced out. A couple of minutes later our opponents had their first attempt but it was well wide. Stur were obviously fired up but their aggression was verging on intimidation and after Leo Hayward was hacked down the first yellow card came out. One of their players then booted the ball out the field so he was booked as well. Number 10 was pushing his luck by constantly chasing after the referee to question every decision and after another comment he also got a yellow. Despite all the aggro Sports were pushing forward and forced several corners. Twice Stu Smith got his head to them but failed to find the target. On the half hour Leo Hayward became Sports first player to be booked when he kicked the ball away. Five minutes later their number 10 threatened to punch someone's face in and the referee decided he had had enough and sent him off. To be fair, Stur kept battling for the last ten minutes of the half and the loss of a man was not evident. Nevertheless Sports looked more likely to score and we actually had the ball in the net just before the break. A free kick out on the left was drilled across the goalmouth by Leo Hayward where Nick Wilton turned it into the net. Unfortunately the lino had spotted an offside in the crowded box. Half-time 0-0 and with our opponents down to ten men we felt we could push on and win now.
As in the first half, Stur were battling hard and the game was pretty even for the first 10 minutes of the half. Joe Burgess came on for Will Ireland to give us fresh legs but then, just before the hour mark, Stur really shot themselves in the foot by having another man sent off. I think this one was a result of the player first commiting a foul and then booting the ball deliberately at an opponent, but anyway off he went. Sports were finding a bit of space now and Louis Irwin had a shot well saved. Sports threw on two more subs now Nat Carney replacing brother Sol who had run himself into the ground and Matt Watson replacing Nick Wilton who had a dead leg. As expected Westlands were now pushing hard to break the deadlock but were finding the home goalkeeper in good form and he made several good saves. In the 70th minute however he was beaten by a Josh Payne effort which just slipped past the post. Then Josh met a Leo Hayward corner flush but again the ball whizzed past. In the 77th minute a Leo Hayward drive shaved the post as Sports continued to attack. At last, in the 78th minute our patience paid off. Josh Payne burst clear down the right and his driven cross was turned into his own net by a defender for an OG. The defender had to lunge for the ball as Louis Irwin was waiting at the far post for a tap-in. A couple of minutes later we should have doubled our lead when George Rigby blasted over after being set up by Josh Payne. With 80 minutes gone Leo Hayward drove into the opposition box, hurdled a scything tackle and scooped the ball over the keeper and, unfortunately, over the bar. In the 88th minute we clinched the points with the second goal, LEO HAYWARD thumping in Louis Irwin's pinpoint cross after some good work by Josh Payne. The game was over now but there was still time for another Sturminster player to get a red card for some more silliness.
The final whistle saw the poor old official getting some grief but, to be honest, our opponents only had themselves to blame for their behaviour and to a certain extent they handed us the game. The sad thing is, they had battled hard throughout, even with nine men they were still trying to push forward when they could. Having said that, I still feel Westlands were looking the most likely winners, even when the sides were equal, as our attacking threat and pace from the supporting midfield always had their defence under pressure. Although we picked up a couple of yellow cards in the match I thought Westlands showed a lot of composure and kept their cool under pressure. We will probably face more situations like this in the final run-in so we now know we have the character to cope with it. A good win and a big three points.
The return fixture at Corfe Mullen looked a tricky one but it was raining this week and I felt this would help us to have a bit of give in the ground. Sam Carney returned to the starting eleven in place of Joe Burgess in a strong Sports line-up and it was nice to have three officials for the first time this season. We are now making a habit of starting a bit slowly and this was the case as Corfe Mullen got in the first shot at goal after 2 minutes which flew over the top. Our opponents were passing the ball about nicely but they got caught napping after 5 minutes when Sports broke away at pace and a defender had to commit a foul to stop further progress. Leo Hayward swung in a good free kick and an unmarked JOSH PAYNE powered an unstoppable header past the startled keeper. A good start but Corfe Mullen rolled up their sleeves and came right back at us. They were pressing hard and not allowing us to play and it paid off in the 12th minute with the equaliser. Sports were slow to close down their right back as he pushed forward into our half and when his cross came in a Corfe attacker outjumped our defender to send a looping header over Jason Bundy into the far corner of the net. Westlands were finding it hard going now, our opponents were winning most of the 50/50 tackles and they were putting us under a bit of pressure. We almost stole the lead, however, when a Will Ireland cross-shot hit the angle of the crossbar and bounced out. But the home side were not to be denied and they went ahead after 25 minutes. A corner from the left sailed into our goalmouth and was headed into the net from a yard out by their tallest player who was totally unmarked. A soft goal to lose and Josh Payne then got himself a yellow card as a bit of frustration began to creep into the Westland ranks. Corfe Mullen kept the pressure on, their player lobbed Sports keeper Jason Bundy but luckily Stu Smith was covering and scrambled the ball away for a corner. We then made a bit of a surge as half-time approached. Leo Hayward hit the post after a well delivered free kick from Stu Smith and Sam Gibbs had a shot tipped round the post. From the resulting corner Stu Smith's header was saved by the keeper. Half-time, 2-1 down.
On reflection we had been second best in the first half and needed to up our game in the second period. The rain had been falling for the whole match and the going was now very soft so thankfully we had three young subs on the bench.
Our half-time discussion looked to have done the trick as Sports came out looking determined to get back into the game. We immediately forced a couple of corners which were cleared but this looked better from Westlands. After 10 minutes George Rigby was replaced by Louis Irwin to give us fresh legs in the midfield. Leo Hayward then had a shot that went wide as Sports continued to control the match. On the hour mark we scored. Sports were pushing men forward now and it was defender NICK WILTON who finished a nice passing move on the edge of the box by driving the ball low into the far corner. Westlands were cock-a-hoop now and immediately forced another corner out on the left wing. The corner was swung in and a defender hand-balled according to the referee. It was one of those dodgy ones that you sometimes get and sometimes don't. Anyway, SAM CARNEY tucked away the penalty kick and all of a sudden we had turned it round and were back in front. More fresh legs were then introduced with Matt Watson being replaced by Nat Carney. In the 70th minute Josh Payne was put through by Louis Irwin's pass but the keeper rushed out to block his effort and clear. We then made our final substitution with Jake Wolfe coming on in place of Will Ireland. What an inspired substitution this turned out to be when, a minute later, JAKE WOLFE turned in a Leo Hayward free-kick to score with his first touch. He got free at the far post and planted the ball into the net with a deft flick to give us a bit of breathing space at 4-2. Unfortunately our two goal lead only lasted a minute. A Corfe Mullen attacker was put clean through and as Jason Bundy went to ground he brought him down and the referee gave a penalty. Jason insisted he had played the ball first but again its one of those that are usually given. Their player blasted in the spot kick and we were back on the edge of our seats at 4-3. It was only a temporary setback and Sports were soon back at the other end and with the opposition defenders tiring they were struggling to deal with our pace in attack. On 74 minutes the industrious Nat Carney had a shot blocked, a few minutes later Leo Hayward shot past the post and minutes later the keeper saved another Nat Carney attempt. We needed another goal just to finish them off and with 5 minutes left we got it. Josh Payne skinned their defence down the right wing, cut in along the bye-line and cut the ball back to LOUIS IRWIN who stuck it away with no problem. A fitting goal for Loius as he had been very effective since coming on and his service to Josh and Leo was excellent. That was it, game over, we had come back superbly from a losing position at half time to win by two goals in a dramatic second half. Final score 5-3.
Well done to all 14 lads who played in what turned out to be testing conditions in constant rain. The opposition were out on their feet in that second half and although they had outplayed us in the first half perhaps the effort of that cost them in the end.
Sports made four changes to the starting lineup for this match with Sam Gibbs, George Rigby, Matt Watson & Joe Burgess replacing Sam Carney, Louis Irwin, Craig Michie & Henry Lawrence-Napier. Although it seemed a nice sunny day there was a strong wind blowing across the pitch which always makes things a bit tricky. With Westlands sitting proudly on top of the league and our opponents languishing in bottom spot this was the perfect recipe for a disaster and, in the end, we were only seconds away from just that. We started slowly and Okeford soon forced a corner out on the left. The ball bobbled around in the box and as an Okeford attacker forced it goalwards the ball was headed off the line and booted clear. The referee blew up and pointed upfield. The Okeford players thought the ball must have crossed the line and started celebrating whilst the Westland players pointed out that the ball had been nowhere near crossing the line. All was made clear when the official explained he had blown for a Westlands free-kick, an Okeford player having fouled one of our defenders prior to the header. No problem then, but a bit of a scare nevertheless. The match then developed into a period of poor play from both sides. Leo Hayward was looking like Sports best chance of a goal and he put a shot wide in the 8th minute. A couple of minutes later came a good chance for Sports. Matt Watson got his head to a corner and turned the ball goalwards where George Rigby tried to help it into the net but managed to hook the ball over the bar. More scrappy play ensued until the 23rd minute when George Rigby fired in a free kick from the edge of the box which the keeper turned round the post. From the resulting corner there was a bit of a melee in the Okeford goalmouth before the ball was eventually scrambled clear. From then until half time it was pretty dire stuff, neither team managing to string a couple of passes together. There were several reasons for this, the strong wind, Sports lack of energy and movement, and some spoiling tactics by our opponents who just hacked down any player who threatened their defence. Josh Payne was the recipient of several of these "tackles" as he tried to inject some pace into the attack.
At half time we were sure it would improve in the second half, it had to if we were to avert what would be a disastrous result.
We started off the second half with a series of corners which Leo Hayward curled in towards goal causing big problems to the visitors. The third of these corners came off the crossbar but nobody could find that finishing touch. Changes were now made with Sam Gibbs, Joe Burgess and George Rigby being replaced by Sol Carney, Craig Michie and Jake Wolfe. Sports stepped up a gear now and really began to put the visitors under pressure. In the 65th minute Leo Hayward set up strike partner Josh Payne whose effort went wide. Five minutes later Josh ripped open the Okeford defence, got to the byeline and squared the ball across goal where Sol Carney's lunge just failed to turn the ball over the line. Okeford now added timewasting to their tactics and some of their antics were laughable as they tried to run down the clock. The pressure was really on now and Sports forced corner after corner, the Okeford defenders somehow managing to keep the ball out of the net. Stu Smith had a header cleared off the line and as time passed we grew more and more desparate to score. With the game now moving into injury time, we were just taking corner after corner, each time seeing the ball scrambled away. Eventually Leo Hayward swung another curler just beyond the back post were Stu Smith somehow forced the ball back across goal for WILL IRELAND to smash it into the roof of the net from point blank range. Cue utter mayhem as the Westland players and supporters celebrated with a huge roar of joy and relief. Meanwhile the Okeford players collapsed to the floor in despair. In the end they had been undone by their own timewasting so justice was done.
I don't usually like to criticise other teams too much but on this occasion I felt Okeford let themselves down with their approach to the game. Never mind, we got our result in the end and the three impotant points. We tried hard, their was no lack of effort but it was just not our day, the bonus being that we stuck to the task and it eventually paid off for us.
All the signs were there for a good afternoon's football, sun shining, pitch looking a picture, and two top 5 sides to battle it out. Sports had Jason Bundy back in goal in the only change from last week's lineup and he was the first keeper called into action diving to catch a low shot after 5 minutes. Corfe Mullen had started confidently, knocking the ball around, but in the eighth minute they were caught out by a fast break from Sports. A long ball was head flicked on by Josh Payne to put LEO HAYWARD clear and he raced through, rounded the keeper, and sidefooted the ball into the empty net to make it 1-0. Once again a visiting defence had been caught out by a quick break from Westlands. Two minutes later and it could have been 2-0. Josh Payne picked the ball up just inside the opposition half and set off on a run that saw him race past two defenders and head for goal. As the keeper came out Josh placed his shot past him but the ball slipped agonisingly past the far post. Shortly after this Sam Carney had to retire injured and he was replaced by Joe Burgess. The match became a bit of a midfield scrap for while with Westlands always looking the more likely side to score. Corfe Mullen lived a bit dangerously at times and on a couple of occasions scrambled the ball away under pressure. In the 43rd minute we went 2-0 up. With the Corfe defence a bit flat-footed, JOSH PAYNE picked up a loose ball, burst through the opposition defence and repeated the first goal by going round the keeper and tucking the ball into the empty net. Two minutes later it was 3-0 as Sports turned the screw. Josh Payne thumped in a stinging volley which the keeper could only parry and HENRY LAWRENCE-NAPIER was following up to knock the ball in.
Three nil at half time looked like a winning margin and Westlands had clinically punished the visitor's mistakes in that first half.
A dream start to the second half saw Sports extend that lead to 4-0. Two minutes in and a free kick was floated into the opposition box where Josh Payne won the header and flicked the ball on for LEO HAYWARD to smash the ball into the back of the net from 15 yards. A blistering shot which gave the keeper no chance. With the game seemingly in the bag, Westlands then got a bit sloppy in their play. In the 55th minute we dived into a tackle and gave away a free kick 25 yards out. The Corfe Mullen player drove the ball hard and low past the wall and straight into the bottom corner. A well taken free kick and a lesson for Sports who had wasted a couple of similar opportunities earlier. We then made a couple of substitutions with Josh Payne and Nick Wilton being replaced by Nat Carney and Matt Watson in an effort to spice up the performance which was now looking a bit lack-lustre. Corfe Mullen immediately responded by scoring again ! Their big forward turned his man easily on the edge of the box and buried a shot in the bottom corner. This was not what we expected, 4-2 now and the opposition fired up for a fightback. Sports were looking a bit ragged at this stage, the shape had gone and mistakes were creeping in but to their credit they dug in and managed to stifle the visitor's new found spirit, gradually pushing them back into their own half. It wasn't particularly pretty now but we battled through to the final whistle without further scares and maintained our two goal margin.
I suppose we'd have taken a 4-2 win before the game but after being 4-0 up it was a bit disappointing to lose 2 goals. Having won the first half easily by 3-0 to go out and lose the second half 2-1 was not what we expected. There was some bad decision making in that second half but hopefully lessons will be learned for the future. In the meantime its another good three points in the bag and we look forward to next week when Okeford will be the visitors.
For the second week in a row the sun was shining, but Portland being Portland there was a cold wind blowing down the pitch and the sun was quite low in the sky making it a double hazard. Sports faced the elements in the first half so we were looking to keep it tight and hopefully cash in on the advantage in the second half. We made one change from last week with Henry Lawrence-Napier returning to the starting line-up. Nat Carney dropped to the bench where he was joined by Stu Smith and Sam Gibbs, both returning from injury. It's amazing how things have changed weatherwise in a couple of weeks. From waterlogged pitches we were now faced with a hard bumpy surface that made control extremely difficult. As a result both teams struggled to put any passes together in an error strewn first 20 minutes when the ball was like a hot potato. Luke Silcox in Westlands goal was the first keeper to be called into serious action, diving to block a bouncing shot. Leo Hayward was prominent for Sports with a couple of runs but there was no end product. As we approached half time a Portland player had a good shot which went just over the bar and Luke Silcox made another good save low down to his right.
Half-time 0-0 and although it had been an uninspiring first half from Sports, we now had the wind and sun in our favour for the second period. Manager Stuart Smith brought himself on for the the start of the half replacing Matt Watson at the back.
Sports looked more business like now and were soon pushing Portland onto the back foot. Louis Irwin burst through their defence but the keeper made a good block to deny us the opening goal. A few minutes later a quick Westlands free-kick almost caught Portland napping but a defender got a block in and turned the ball over the bar. On the hour mark we brought Nat carney on in place of brother Sam and with Stu Smith driving the team on we continued to press forward. Will Ireland had a pop which wasn't far off the mark then Loius Irwin made a good break and squared the ball to Leo Hayward who blasted it over the top. Westlands then forced a series of corners, one of which was scrambled off the line by a defender. Portland had a couple of attacks but they couldn't really trouble the Westlands defence or test our keeper. In the 72nd minute the Portland keeper made a decent save from Josh Payne and it began to look like it might be one of these days ! With 5 minutes to go and Sports still pressing Nat Carney had a glorious opportunity but headed over the top from 6 yards out. In the 88th minute came the goal we were looking for. Josh Payne was fouled on the edge of the area giving Sports a free-kick in a dangerous position. Leo Hayward had a shot which the keeper seemed to have covered but to his (and his team-mates !) dismay he spilled the ball out to the ever-alert CRAIG MICHIE who had an easy tap-in. It had been obvious to everyone for some time that one goal would win this one and with Westlands scoring with 2 minutes to go the points were in the bag.
This was one of these away games you know are going to be difficult so to come away with the three points was a good effort by the team. The conditions were not helpful and both teams struggled but I thought Westlands played a strategic game and deserved the points for their second half display.
Thankfully we kicked off in glorious sunshine which made a change but there was a blustery wind blowing down the pitch which is never ideal for football. Sam Gibbs and Jason Bundy joined the injured list this week, Craig Michie moved to centre back and Nick Wilton started in an unfamiliar midfield role. Leo Hayward also returned up front and Youth team keeper Luke Silcox was between the sticks. Sports also introduced a new signing Joe Burgess this week and he took a place on the bench. So, a few changes to get used to and it showed early on as Sports struggled to put any passes together. Gillingham looked a well organised outfit and they were working hard to close us down so early on we didn't really get going. In 15 minutes Luke Silcox in the Westlands goal was called into action and he made a good save blocking a shot low down. Leo Hayward then carved out Sports first real chance, making a good run to the byline and cutting the ball back for Josh Payne whose shot was saved by the keeper. On the half-hour mark a dangerous corner had the Gill defence in disarray with the ball eventually being scrambled away. A couple of minutes later the visitors had a good shot tipped round the post by Luke Silcox and then in the 40th minute Sports had a bit of a let-off when a Gillingham forward scooped the ball wide from 6 yards out with the goal at his mercy. The last action of the half saw Loius Irwin fire in a well struck shot which unfortunately went straight to the opposition keeper.
Half-time and the 0-0 scoreline was pretty fair really on the balance of play. Both sides had created chances and the game had been played at a good pace so we looked forward to a good second half. Sports would have the wind in their favour this half so it would be interesting to see if that would have any bearing on the game.
Westlands made a change at the break with Joe Burgess coming on for his debut in place of Nat Carney and he lined up on the left of the midfield. Gillingham made the first chance of the half and Luke Silcox made a great save at point blank range to deny them. That was to prove a crucial moment as two minutes later Westlands opened the scoring. Leo Hayward made a decisive run down the right and his low cross was deftly turned in by JOSH PAYNE at the near post. So the crucial breakthrough had been made but the visitors refused to lie down and in the 57th minute Luke Silcox made another good save to maintain our lead. A minute later a Gillingham forward went clean through the Sports defence but he blasted the ball over the top from a good position. George Rigby was then introduced for Westlands in place of Louis Irwin to give us some fresh legs and in the 65th minute Leo Hayward made a good run, taking on the Gill defence but his final shot was high and wide. In the 70th minute we settled the issue with the second goal. Our keeper Luke Silcox, bombed a huge, wind assisted, kick deep into the Gillingham half. The Gill defence allowed the ball to bounce and LEO HAYWARD was onto it in a flash. As the keeper dashed out and a defender closed in Leo cutely lobbed the ball over them both into the back of the net. Westlands were making the running now and Joe Burgess nearly made it a dream debut when he fired in a left foot shot which the keeper did well to touch onto the post. George Rigby then thumped in a free kick from out on the right only to see that effort also hit the post and be cleared. As we went into the final minute another huge kick from Luke Silcox picked out Leo Hayward deep in opposition territory. Leo deftly took the ball out the air, turned a defender, and fired in a great shot which had the keeper beaten only to see his effort come off the crossbar.
A dramatic end to a good game of football, played in good spirit by both sides. General opinion amongst the spectators was that Sports just about deserved the victory and those all-important three points. We've now completed the double over Gillingham this season which is nice as they did the same to us last season !
Our second home game in a row and a 3 pm kick-off which tells us it is now spring ! However there was no spring in player/manager Stu Smith's step as he returned to the injured list being replaced by Matt Watson. Leo Hayward was taken ill overnight and was replaced by Nat Carney who lined up in midfield with Louis Irwin moving up front. Nick Wilton returned from suspension and took a place on the bench.
Jason Bundy in the Westland's goal was the first keeper in action saving a shot from the edge of the box which skidded across the wet turf. In the 7th minute Sports forced a corner which Josh Payne met with his head forcing the visitor's keeper into the first of many good saves. Westlands began to get on top and in 25 minutes Josh Payne raced through the Blandford defence, drew the keeper but his shot was weak and allowed the keeper to block. Staying alert Josh got his boot to the rebound but this effort cannoned off the crossbar and fell to a defender who cleared. Three minutes later Louis Irwin made a great run to the byeline and cut the ball back to the supporting Nat Carney but once again the keeper saved. The pressure was mounting now and on the half hour mark we broke the deadlock, LOUIS IRWIN being on hand to head in a corner from the left at the near post. We kept the pressure on and in the 42nd minute the Blandford keeper had to look sharp to parry a Louis Irwin header that was heading for the bottom corner. The last effort of the half came from Will Ireland who hit a dipping volley from 25 yards which came back off the crossbar with the keeper beaten.
The slender one goal lead at half time was a poor reward for a half where Westlands had created numerous chances. Ok the keeper pulled off some good saves but you always wonder if these misses will come back to haunt you.
It only took 5 minutes of the second half for that question to be answered. Some slack marking allowed a Blandford player to break down the left flank and when his cross came over Phil Wells sliced his attempted clearance past the despairing Jason Bundy to give Blandford an unlikely equaliser. This setback prompted a couple of subs by Westlands with Sam Gibbs and Nat Carney being replaced by Nick Wilton and George Rigby. Sports were really pushing now but with something to hang on to the Blandford lads were fighting for every ball and we were finding them difficult to break down. Josh Payne was looking the Westlands danger man but when he was put through again he found the opposition keeper on song once again with a good block. Josh also had a decent penalty shout turned down when he was upended in the box but the referee turned down the appeals. As time wore on Sports attempts were getting more desperate and with time running out George Rigby brought another diving save from the keeper with a good shot.
This was not Westlands finest hour as we dropped another two points against a bottom half team having done the same thing back in september at their place (1-1 draw). But, to be fair, we played quite well and created chances, we were just lacking a bit of composure in front of goal. Their keeper was undoubtedly the man of the match and that tells a story as well.
Our first game for a month and the pitch at Alvington was looking excellent so everyone was up for this one. On the team front, player/manager Stu Smith returned to the defence after a lengthy lay-off and new signing Craig Michie made his debut in midfield. It was also good to see George Rigby return from injury to take a place on the bench.
As is often the case, Sports started slowly and it was the visitors who had the best of the early play, keeping Westlands pinned in their own half. However, in our first attack in the 7th minute, we took the lead. Louis Irwin played a good pass to LEO HAYWARD which put him away down the left and he took off at top speed. Cutting in onto his right foot he drove in a shot which took a handy deflection on the way in. Now there was a different complexion to the game and Westlands began to assert their authority in the midfield making it a bit of a battle for supremacy. It was noticeable however, that Jason Bundy in the Westlands goal hadn't really been tested up to this point while the visitor's defence were having to work hard to keep the home attackers at bay. In the 33rd minute Craig Michie almost made it a dream debut when he hit a dipping volley from 20 yards which hit the bar and went over. Stu Smith decided to call it a day after 40 minutes with his calf playing up and he was replaced by Matt Watson. The remaining five minutes of the half passed without incident and so we went in at half-time 1-0 up.
Sports started the second half on the front foot and Leo Hayward hit a decent free kick which was parried by the keeper. It was a bit edgy now, and although we still seemed to be controlling the game, at 1-0 there is alway the slight fear there. In the 62nd minute Sam Carney thumped a shot over the top but a couple of minutes later Jason Bundy had to look sharp to tip a net-bound shot over the bar as Portland reminded us that at 1-0 they were still in the game. In the 70th minute Sports introduced some fresh legs in the midfield with Nat Carney replacing Will Ireland. A couple of minutes later came that crucial second goal we had been looking for. A long wind assisted kick from keeper Jason Bundy caught the Portland defenders flat footed and JOSH PAYNE was onto it in a flash. Outpacing the last defender Josh drew the keeper and tucked the ball away at the second attempt to make it 2-0 to Westlands. Sports now took the opportunity to withdraw Josh who was carrying an ankle injury and he was replaced by George Rigby. A couple of minutes later George made an immediate impact by thumping in a shot which the keeper turned round the post at full stretch. Then, just when it looked like the game was safe, disaster struck. Sports went to sleep from a corner and a Portland player had a free header at the far post which he planted in the net. But before the visitors had time to draw strength from their goal Sports put the game to bed. Leo Hayward was fed down the left side and took on his defender. After going past him the defender's despairing lunge brought Leo down and there was only one outcome -penalty ! SAM CARNEY stepped up and confidently despatched the kick into the corner to restore that two-goal cushion. Apart from the goal we had looked pretty solid at the back so there was no way back now for Portland and the last ten minutes passed with no real incident, final result 3-1 to Westlands.
Another good win and one which takes Sports to the top of the table on goal difference so all to play for.
With the foul weather continuing it was a relief just to have a game of football. The pitch had passed a morning inspection and looked reasonably firm but the pitch surrounds were very soggy for the poor old spectators. With Ash Powers crocked last week, Stu Smith still injured and Nick Wilton suspended Sports had a shortage of defenders so ex-Westlands favourite Jason Sims returned to the colours to help out. Other changes were Jason Bundy back in goal and Sam Carney returning to the midfield.
There was a strong wind blowing across the pitch as the teams kicked off and both teams struggled to get control of the ball in the early exchanges. It was 10 minutes before we had an attempt at goal and it was Westland's Leo Hayward who made a quick break but saw his shot tipped round the post. The next real chance didn't come for another 15 minutes and again it was Sports who went close. A nice through ball put Josh Payne in on goal but the keeper blocked his shot. The rebound was crossed back into the box but Louis Irwin fired over the top from close range. In the 29th minute Westlands deservedly took the lead. Another good pass put Josh Payne clear on the left. He raced to the byeline and cut the ball back to the edge of the box where SAM CARNEY took a touch then smashed a shot goalwards which hit the back of the net before the keeper had time to move. Westlands continued to press and Leo Hayward had a good shot saved by the goalie who was keeping Stur Marshall in the game at this point. In the 36th minute Westlands keeper Jason Bundy was called into action for the first time when he had to dive low down to save. A minute later and it was 2-0 and a real solo effort it was. JOSH PAYNE sprinted down the left wing, outpaced the defender, and as the keeper came out coolly slotted the ball past him into the far corner of the net. A lovely finish reminiscent of Thierry Henry in his prime ! Westlands continued to press before the break and in the 43rd minute Louis Irwin burst through from midfield in a surging run but saw his netbound shot fingertipped round the post by the visitors keeper. A couple of minutes later the keeper again thwarted Louis Irwin this time from a good header. The half time score of 2-0 reflected Westlands superiority, indeed had it not been for their keeper's heroics it could have been more.
The second half brought a deterioration in the weather with heavy rain now driving across the pitch and it is credit to the players of both sides who battled on regardless of the conditions. Westlands were soon pressing again, and from a corner kick Henry Lawrence-Napier shot just wide of the mark. On 55 minutes Westlands introduced a couple of subs with Nat Carney and Pete Ireland replacing Josh Payne and Louis Irwin. In the 63rd minute Jason Sims got his head to a corner from the left and his effort seemed to be heading for the top corner when somehow the keeper got a fingertip to it which deflected the ball onto the post and it was scrambled away. In the 65 minute Westlands made their final substitution with Sam Farthing replacing Will Ireland. The final 25 minutes of the game saw Sturminster Marshall gradually come more into the game as Sports seemed to go off the boil. The visitors were now pushing forward and at 2-0 they were still in the game if they could pull one back. In the 80th minute Jason Bundy made sure Westlands were keeping a clean sheet with a superb save. A Stur player met a corner on the drop and saw his shot tipped over the bar by a swallow-dive from the Sports custodian. Although Sturminster kept the pressure on to the end their moment had gone and the final 2-0 scoreline secured three good points which takes Westlands to the top of the table.
Another good result for the Westlands lads and another clean sheet against one of the top sides in the league. The conditions were pretty bad especially the strong wind but the players of both sides made the best of it and gave us an entertaining game. A slight worry was the way the opposition came into the game in the second half but I think that can be attributed to the three substitutions we made early in the half. Not that the subs played badly, they all played well when they came on, it just seemed to upset the rhythm and fluency of the team. However, no harm done and a morale boosting victory before we play the same opponents next week on their home pitch.
Considering all the rain that had fallen we were pleasantly surprised to hear on saturday morning that the game was definitely on. The pitch was nice and firm if a bit bumpy so it all looked promising for a good game. On the team front, with Nick Wilton suspended and Stu Smith still injured, Sam Gibbs stepped back into defence with Nat Carney taking his place in the midfield. Henry Lawrence-Napier returned to the side in place of Sam Carney (skiing !) and young Johnny Ireland made his senior debut on the bench. Westlands got off on the front foot and after a good passing move down the left the Piddle keeper had to look sharp to save twice from Josh Payne. After 15 minutes Henry Lawrence-Napier made a good run down the right to the bye-line and again the keeper blocked Josh Payne's effort. A couple of minutes later Piddletrenthide made their first real foray into Westlands half. Their right full back went on a storming run and his final cross was cleared at the expense of a corner. Back at the other end their keeper again blocked a goalbound effort, this time from Leo Hayward. Piddletrenthide hit back with a shot on target but it was virtually straight at the keeper and Luke Silcox dealt with it easily. As the half hour mark aproached it was Westlands who were now in control and although Piddletrenthide had a couple of nippy forwards, they were not troubling Sports defence. Again the opposition keeper thwarted all Sports efforts on goal saving shots from Leo Hayward and from Phil Wells after another good run by Henry Lawrence-Napier. Next, on 35 minutes, Nat Carney had a try but screwed his effort wide and then Josh Payne shot past the post from a good position. We were piling on the pressure now and Josh Payne shot wide again after nicking the ball off their centre half. In the 44th minute we at last made the breakthrough, JOSH PAYNE driving a left foot shot past the keeper from 15 yards. Just before the break, one last attack saw the keeper make another good save from a Leo Hayward shot and from the resulting corner he saved Josh Payne's header.
The one goal half time lead didn't reflect the Westland's dominance of the first half and the close scoreline was down to the form of the Piddletrenthide keeper who made at least eight saves in the half. Our opponents had shown some attacking intentions early in the half but eventually they were totally on the defensive. We were optimistic for the second half as Piddletrenthide had held us to 1-1 at half-time in the first meeting at Alvington but had collapsed in the second half.
The opposition come out for the second half and, as you would expect of the home side, showed a bit of urgency. In the 52nd minute their player headed over the bar from a good position but this only acted as a wakeup call to Westlands as they went down the other end and scored a minute later. Nat Carney drove into the box and the ball broke to JOSH PAYNE who hit a left foot shot along the ground that sneaked in at the far post with the keeper unsighted, 2-0 to Sports. Johnny Ireland came on for Henry Lawrence-Napier and on the hour mark Piddletrenthide had a shot at goal which went over the top. Two minutes later we made it 3-0. Their centre half got caught in possession and was robbed by LEO HAYWARD who raced through and coolly drove the ball into the bottom corner as the keeper came out. A minute later it was 4-0. Their keeper came out for a corner and dropped the ball at the feet of ASH POWERS who gratefully thumped it into the back of the net. In the 72nd minute a lovely crossfield pass from Louis Irwin found PHIL WELLS surging into the box and he smashed a left foot drive past the keeper to make it 5-0 to Sports. Four minutes later LEO HAYWARD showed nice control to wrong-foot the opposition defenders and he then rifled a shot low into the far corner giving the keeper no chance, 6-0. Our opponents had caved in now and with ten minutes to go their centre half, who had a torrid time throughout, kicked out at Leo and was sent off. Unfortunately Sports lost a man soon after when Ash Powers had to be carried off with what looked like a serious hamstring injury. In the 89th minute their hapless keeper, who had played so well in the first half, completely fluffed a goal kick straight to LEO HAYWARD who curled a shot into the far corner to make it 7-0 and complete his hat-trick. There was still time for more drama in the final minute. Louis Irwin made a run into the box but was unceremoniously hacked down by an opposition defender. The referee immediately showed the defender a red card and pointed to the spot. JOSH PAYNE grabbed the ball and thumped the spot kick into the back of the net to complete his hat-trick and make the final score 8-0 to Westlands.
In summary, it was nice to return after a month without a game and have such an resounding victory. Once again we looked solid at the back and we always looked dangerous going forward. Hat-tricks for both our front men was nice to see but one sad note was the injury to Ash Powers which now sees us short of numbers at the back, but we'll worry about that next week. This win takes Sports into second place in the league table and with a game in hand we are in a nice position.
Team changes from last week saw the return of Sam Carney to the lineup in place of Henry Lawrence-Napier and Luke Silcox took over goalkeeping duties from the injured Jason Bundy. Manager Stu Smith chose to leave himself on the bench and he was joined by Aaron White and Nat Carney. The conditions were fair and it was a big pitch but bumpy so not really suited to a passing game. In the first few minutes Sports showed their teeth with a strong run and cut-back by Josh Payne giving Leo Hayward an early chance which he blasted over. A few minutes later Poole responded with a good dipping shot which Luke Silcox did well to turn over the bar. From the resulting corner their number 5 had a free header which he put over. The game was being played in cup tie spirit with tackles flying in but Sports were looking the more dangerous side and in the 12th minute Leo Hayward made a good run down the left and crossed for Sam Carney who just failed to gat behind the ball and his effort screwed wide. Five minutes later Loius Irwin scooped the ball goalwards but with the keeper beaten the ball was cleared off the line. A goal for Westlands looked on the cards and it came in the 22nd minute when JOSH PAYNE thumped in a low shot from the edge of the box which flew into the back of the net. Sports were good value for their lead but Borough were'nt giving up and immediately launched an attack which brought another good save from Luke Silcox. Then a Borough player had a good shot over the top as they pressed for an equaliser. On the half-hour mark Sports hit back with a Leo Hayward dribble down the left to the bye-line where his cross was almost turned into his own net by a defender. The next chance came when Sam Gibbs fed a clever ball into the bax for Josh Payne whose shot was on target but was tipped over the bar by the keeper. The remainder of the half was battled out in the midfield with some of the tackles getting a bit dodgy but we survived unscathed to the break with our one goal lead.
Westlands had always looked the more dangerous side in the first half but our opponents had battled hard and had enjoyed some good spells in the half so the warning signs were there. Nevertheless we had missed a few good chances in the first 45 and if we kept that up in the second half surely the goals would come.
Poole were fired up for the second half having nothing to lose and we soon found ourselves on the back foot as they dominated possession. Still we had an attack in the 53rd minute which ended with Sam Carney shooting wide. In the 55th minute we made 2 substitutions with Sam Gibbs and Louis Irwin replaced by Nat Carney and Aaron White. We immediately had a chance when Josh Payne set up Phil Wells but his shot went wide. It was noticeable now that Sports were retreating deeper and deeper into their own half and although Poole were now enjoying most of the possession they weren't creating many goalscoring chances. However we really needed that second goal to kill them off but we weren't looking so dangerous now it almost looked as if we had decided just to hold what we had and play out time. We were holding them pretty well until 8 minutes from time when the roof fell in. A long high ball into the heart of the Sports defence was missed by a defender and the bouncing ball was picked up by their centre forward who had time for a couple of touches on the edge of the box before firing a low shot into the corner. A well taken goal but possibly it should have been defended better. A minute later, with the Westlands players still shell-shocked and all over the place we conceded again. The ball was crossed into our box and there seemed to be three opponents totally unmarked. As the ball seemed to bobble around the Sports defence were slow to react and eventually one of their players shinned it into the corner of the net. In the space of two minutes we went from 1-0 up to 2-1 down and the writing was on the wall. There was still 7 minutes to go, probably 10 with extras, but there was no way back for us as our opponents were cock-a-hoop now and we were in disarray. In the last couple of minutes Nick Wilton was on the receiving end of a bad tackle and chose to retaliate with his fists resulting in red cards for him and his opponent.
A sorry end to a day we will want to forget. Borough were a hard working side who never gave up but we really should have wrapped this game up in the first half. The longer the game went on with just a one goal lead the more encouraged they became. They still were'nt creating a lot and in my view it was our mistakes that created the chances for them. After losing the first goal it was disappointing to see us go to pieces and immediately lose a second. We seemed to just back off in that second half, a tactic which cost us in the end.
We were expecting a tough game this week as Cheriton had burst Chickerell's bubble last week and were a team in form. Sports had a couple of changes ;- Henry Lawrence-Napier got a start in place of George Rigby, who dropped to the bench with a dodgy back, with Sam Carney and Stu Smith both returning from injury joining him on the bench. It was all South Cheriton in the opening stages and they kept Westlands pinned in their own half. Sports passing was awful and we kept giving the ball away as soon as we got it. Nevertheless we kept our opponents down to a couple of off-target chances in the opening 10 minutes and it was noticeable that, although having a lot of pressure, the visitors couldn't break down a resolute Sports defence. By the quarter hour mark Cheriton had three corners, all given away softly, but they were unable to make anything from them. It was the 25th minute before Westlands created a worthwhile chance, Leo Hayward's header giving the keeper a fairly comfortable save. Cheriton responded with a shot over the crossbar but in the 27th minute they found themselves 1-0 down. Josh Payne set it up, getting down the right to the byeline and crossing low for LEO HAYWARD to drill a shot into the back of the net. Westlands one up and, it has to be said, totally against the run of play. But Cheriton found it a bitter pill to swallow and were never the same team again. Sports had their tails up now and were starting to play the football we expect from them. Leo Hayward then made a good break and his pass gave Phil Wells a sight at goal but his shot flew past the far post. In the 37th minute Sports made it two. Some good passing down the left wing ended with Leo Hayward squaring to LOUIS IRWIN who sidefooted into the corner. Westlands had really turned the tables now and were well on top. Three minutes later we scored number three, Josh Payne raced to the byeline and cut the ball across goal where a hapless defender turned it past his own keeper for an OG. As the half ended Leo Hayward cut through the visitor's defence once more but this time the keeper made a good save.
So we turned round 3-0 up and had seen a real transformation in the match. Cheriton had bossed the early stages with Sports looking a bit ragged. Then we scored and turned the match on its head. Once we started putting a few passes together it was obvious the visitor's defence couldn't cope with our pace up front and as the half wore on we punished them. All we needed was a good steady second half and the points were safe.
Westlands came out for the second spell still buzzing and almost immediately Josh Payne raced off down the right and crossed for Louis Irwin to shoot just wide. Five minutes into the half and Cheriton had a brief flurry with Jason Bundy having to pull off a good save from a free kick. They then had another go with a shot which went over the bar. On the hour mark Westlands made a couple of substitutions with Henry Lawrence-Napier and Louis Irwin being replaced by Sam Carney and George Rigby. Within a couple of minutes sports had scored again to make it 4-0. Leo Hayward left the visitors defence standing and crossed for the alert JOSH PAYNE to force the ball into the net with the help of a defender. It was one way traffic now and in the 64th minute LEO HAYWARD made it 5-0 by cheekily lobbing the keeper from the edge of the box. Westlands made their third sub now, Stu Smith coming on for Nick Wilton who had taken a few heavy tackles. With 20 minutes still to go Westlands continued to punish the visitor's by making it 6-0. A long ball through the middle saw their keeper rush out of his goal to the edge of the box and collide with his own player leaving LEO HAYWARD to complete his second hat-trick in a row by walking the ball into the empty net. The remainder of the match was played out in fairly sterile fashion with Sports taking their foot off the pedal a bit. In the 77th minute Josh Payne set up Will Ireland but he volleyed wide. Shortly after we were treated to some sumptious trickery from Leo Hayward and Josh Payne as they cut apart the Cheriton defence and the move ended with an impudent back heel from Josh which rolled just past the post with the keeper nowhere. The final action of the match saw South Cheriton spoil Sports clean sheet by scoring, or did they ? A corner from the left was whipped across the goal deceiving everybody. A Westlands player seemed to clear the ball off the line with his arm but as the visitor's claimed a penalty the referee gave a goal as he decided the ball had crossed the line. Did us a favour really as the alternative would probably have ended with a red card !
There you have it, 6-1 to Westlands and who would have predicted that scoreline after 20 minutes ! For the second week in a row we started slowly and could have been punished on another day. To the team's credit though, once they got a foothold in the game they really took their opponents apart and the South Cheriton defence just couldn't live with the pace of Sports attacks. Another good result which keeps the run going and puts us in a handy third place in the table.
The sun was shining as the teams took the field with Sports showing three changes from last week as injuries took their toll. Missing from last week's starting line-up were player/manager Stu Smith, and midfielder Sam Carney who were replaced by Ash Powers and Louis Irwin. With Jason Bundy fit to return in goal, Luke Silcox dropped to the bench with Henry Lawrence-Napier. After the early sparring it was Piddletrenthide who had the first attempt at goal in the 5th minute with a shot which was well wide of the mark. However, this was only a sighter as the visitors opened the scoring a minute later. A bad clearance back across our own goalmouth gave 'the Piddlers' a chance and they scored at the second attempt. Not the start Sports wanted but we didn't take long to get back on level terms. A minute later a corner from the left was cleared back out to Sam Gibbs whose deep cross was headed in by GEORGE RIGBY. Westlands were still a bit sluggish and the hard-working visitors were giving as good as they got. Leo Hayward had a shot on taget but there was no power in it and the keeper saved easily. Then Piddletrenthide had a go with a shot over the top. After 28 minutes Josh Payne got his head to a cross but directed it over the bar. Then we had a close shave when from a corner the visitors hit the bar with a good effort. With 36 minutes gone Josh Payne showed his pace with a good run and shot, the ball just fizzing past the far post. Westlands finished the half on the attack with Matt Watson directing a Leo Hayward corner goalwards but the effort was blocked by a defender.
The half time score of 1-1 was a fair reflection on the play but Sports hadn't really got into full flow and needed to step it up a gear if we were going to win this one.
Within a couple of minutes of the restart a couple of crosses flew across the visitor's goalmouth but unfortunately there were no Westland players there to take advantage. In the 50th minute came the first substitution with Henry Lawrence-Napier replacing George Rigby. A minute later Sports took the lead with an outstanding goal. JOSH PAYNE took off down the left wing, raced past a couple of defenders and planted a perfect shot into the far corner of the net with the keeper all at sea. This goal seemed to relax Westlands and they really began to turn the screw. In the 57th minute a defensive mistake gave Leo Hayward a chance and his snap shot hit the outside of the post. Two minutes later Nick Wilton got his head to a corner but couldn't keep his effort on target. Piddletrenthide were now practically non-existant as an attacking force as Sports kept the pressure on. In the 57th minute Leo Hayward fed Henry Lawrence-Napier whose netbound shot was tipped over the bar by 'the Piddlers' keeper. A few minutes later Henry returned the compliment, cutting the ball back from the byeline to Leo whose shot missed the target. Just after this Leo looked like he had been fouled in the box but the ref waved play on much to Leo's disgust and he ended up in the book as a result of his protests. At last, in the 74th minute came that third goal we were looking for. Josh Payne cut the ball back to LEO HAYWARD and, still smarting from his yellow card, he absolutely hammered the ball into the top corner. With the points now looking safe, Sports made a second substitution, utility player Luke Silcox replacing Josh Payne. Luke didn't take long to get involved with a snap shot which went past the post. In the 84th minute Westlands made it 4-1. We were awarded a free kick on the edge of the box and LEO HAYWARD thumped it low and hard past the wall into the bottom corner. Our opponents were shell-shocked now and in the 87th minute they virtually gifted us a 5th goal with LEO HAYWARD taking advantage of a defensive blunder and flicking the loose ball past the keeper to complete his hat-trick. Just to put the icing on the cake, Sports made it 6 in the last minute. SAM GIBBS fired over a wicked free kick which eluded everyone and ended up in the far corner of the net. That goal concluded the scoring and I'm sure Piddletrenthide were relieved to hear that final whistle as they had completely gone to pieces in the last 10 minutes. Nevertheless they can take some comfort from their first half display when there was little to choose between the teams. Sports hadn't been great in that first 45 but they really upped the pace in the second half and in the end ran out convincing winners. Another good three points gained which keep Westlands in touch at the top of the table.
There were two changes to the starting line-up this week with Luke Silcox replacing Jason Bundy in goal and Sam Carney returning to the midfield in place of Aaron White.
The first ten minutes were cagy with both sides working hard to gain dominance but neither side succeeding in getting the upper hand. Westlands made the first real chance after 12 minutes when Josh Payne burst through but shot past the post. A minute later a good cross from the right found Phil Wells in space at the far post but he fluffed his shot. Sturminster Newton showed their teeth next with a shot which flew over the bar. In the 20th minute Sports were forced into a substitution. Player/manager Stu Smith, who had passed a late fitness test to play, had to withdraw and he was replaced at the back by the experienced Ash Powers. The next chance fell to Sports in the 22nd minute. George Rigby fired in a dangerous free-kick which forced a Stur defender to head over his own bar. On the half hour the visitors put a good cross to the far post where their winger knocked it over the top. After half an hour Westlands were disrupted by a second injury, Sam Carney, who had taken a whack in the ribs, came off and was replaced by Aaron White. The game was a real midfield battle now and the only good chance before the break fell to Stur when their centre forward found himself unmarked in the box but luckily he put his shot wide of the target.
0-0 at half time was a fair enough result but Westlands had always looked more dangerous in attack so we were optimistic for the second half.
The second half started well for Sports and after 4 minutes we took the lead. Leo Hayward took a corner out on the left and fired it across goal where centre-half MATT WATSON rose to bullet a header past the motionless Stur keeper into the back of the net. What a finish, it was going to take something special to break the deadlock and this was it. In the 52nd minute Leo Hayward, who was carrying a bit of a knock, decided he had had enough and he was replaced by Louis Irwin. Five minutes later Josh Payne had a shot on target but unfortunately it was straight into the keeper's arms. Shortly after Josh had another effort saved before Stur hit back with a shot which Luke Silcox had to turn round the post. It was from the resulting corner that Sturminster got the equaliser. Their little winger curled in a vicious inswinger which dipped over our keeper's hands, hit the far post and ended up in the back of the net. So, 1-1 and to make things worse, Nick Wilton injured himself trying to stop the goal and had to be helped off with a twisted knee. Credit to Nick he came back on a couple of minutes later but he was limping heavily and things didn't look too great for Westlands at this point with still over 20 minutes to play. After this setback Westlands went straight back on the attack and George Rigby fired a shot past the post. This was followed in the 72nd minute by a good run and cross by Louis Irwin which ended with Josh Payne shooting over. In the 80th minute Will Ireland, who was driving forward from midfield sent a curling shot, intended for the top corner, just over the crossbar. Going into the last 10 minutes Sturminster made a bid to snatch the winner with a lob shot from about 25 yards which Luke Silcox had to tip over. From the corner their number 12 outjumped the Sports defence and planted a header over via the top of the crossbar.Their next attempt was a long throw which was allowed to bounce in Sports box and was also turned over. Just as it seemed the game was destined to end in deadlock Sports grabbed the winner in injury time. A long ball over the top from Phil Wells saw the Stur defence caught square. LOUIS IRWIN raced through, just beat the onrushing keeper to the ball, picked himself up and slotted the ball into the empty net from 12 yards. An excellent opportunist goalfrom Louis. As the ball came over the Stur defence their keeper looked favourite to get there first, but Louis' determination won him the ball and won us the game as the whistle blew for full time seconds after the restart.
This was a hardfought win for Westlands but the lads stuck to the task and were rewarded in the end. All the injuries didn't help but we have a strong squad now and we coped with the disruption pretty well. Sturminster Newton were tough opponents who played some good football and I think it shows the quality of this league, there are no easy games !
A country setting at Witchampton with nothing but fields surrounding the pitch which was in good shape but looked a little on the small side. The home team came at us from the kick-off forcing Jason Bundy into tipping a good shot over the bar in the second minute. This led to two corners which we defended well winning good headers against a tall side. Sports keeper was called into action again in the 5th minute sticking out a leg to block a shot after the ball had been given away on the edge of the box. A couple of minutes later he was in action again, diving at the feet of the big Witchampton centre forward. Leo Hayward then broke away down the right to relieve the pressure and his low cross flashed across the front of the Witches goal with no takers. In the 12th minute we had our first shot at goal with George Rigby firing over the top. Josh Payne was next to have a go for Sports but his header was straight at the keeper. On the half hour mark Westlands nearly opened the scoring when Stu Smith got his head to a Sam Gibbs corner but his effort was scrambled off the line with the keeper beaten. A couple of minutes later came another golden chance for Sports to open their account. A defence splitting pass from Leo Hayward put Josh Payne clean through. He beat the onrushing keeper with his shot but unfortunately dragged it wide of the far post. In the 35th minute Josh laid the ball back to George Rigby on the edge of the box but again his shot was over the top. At the other end Jason Bundy made a smart save from a stinging shot as the home side hit back. Just before the break disaster struck for Sports. A harmless looking ball into our box bounced up awkwardly and hit our defender on the arm with no attacker in the vicinity. The referee pointed to the spot to the dismay of the Westlands players. The spot kick was stuck away in the corner and so we went into the half-time break 1-0 down and feeling a bit aggrieved, it was a soft penalty. After weathering their early storm, we had come right back into the game and given as good as we got with a couple of good chances.
The second half was only a few minutes old when we had a bizarre incident in the Witchampton box. Leo Hayward chased a long ball which their keeper came out to gather comfortably. As he did so Leo shouted, presumably to put him off his catch. The shout had no effect but as the keeper easily clutched the ball to his chest he had a little kick out at Leo as he passed. There was nothing in it really, but the referee blew his whistle immediately to stop the game. He then lectured the keeper, who still had the ball in his hands, about the kick. The official then restarted the game with a dropped ball at the edge of the box ! A strange decision, did the keeper commit an offence or not ? If the answer is yes, its a penalty ! Having had a couple of decisions go against us, in the 51st minute we had our turn of luck. Josh Payne was tackled on the edge of the penalty area and fell over. The referee pointed to the spot with the Witchampton players protesting strongly that the tackle had been made outside the box. Josh certainly landed inside the box so that's good enough for me, penalty ! Having missed our last two spot kicks we were a bit nervous about who would take this one. WILL IRELAND stepped up and cleverly (!) placed the ball in a hole so that when he struck it, it looped up over the diving keeper into the top corner. They all count and at 1-1 and we were back in the game. On the hour we made our usual substitutions with Louis Irwin and Sam Carney replacing Aaron White and George Rigby. It was end to end stuff now with both teams going for the winner. In the 62nd minute Josh Payne weaved his way to the bye-line and cut the ball back to Phil Wells whose angled shot came off the crossbar and was cleared to safety. Three minutes later a Witchampton player hit a rasping shot from the edge of the box which came back off Westlands post with Jason Bundy beaten. Shortly after their big number 9 had a great chance when unmarked at the far post but he headed wide with the goal at his mercy. After 70 minutes Josh Payne had a good shot tipped over the bar by the keeper. The subsequent corner was cleared out to Stu Smith about 15 yards out but his shot, over a crowd of players, just cleared the bar. As we went into the last 10 minutes neither side could fashion a clear cut chance as both teams perhaps decided they didn't want to lose the match.
When the final whistle went we were reasonably happy with our point. OK perhaps we could have sneaked a win with some of the chances we made but I'm sure the opposition will be saying the same thing. It was a hard match against a big physical side and our lads came through it well. It's a difficult place to get a result and I'm sure a few teams will come unstuck there before the season is out so the point we gained could be seen as a good one come the end of the season.
We had only one change in line-up from last week with Sam Carney dropping out and being replaced by his young brother Sol ! Louis Irwin also returned from holiday and took a place on the bench alongside Henry Lawrence-Napier and Ash Powers. The opposition were a bit of an unknown quantity as they play in the Bournemouth League Premier Division which, I am told, is a very good standard, so we were expecting a tough match. Ferndown's pre-match preparation was also impressive as they had travelled up to Yeovil on Friday and stayed overnight at the Manor Hotel ! The visitors showed they meant business early on as they penned Westlands in their own half for the first 15 minutes during which time Jason Bundy in Sports goal had to look sharp on a couple of occasions as the visitors probed for the opening goal. After seeing out that initial period of pressure Westlands began to show their own attacking qualities and in the 17th minute Leo Hayward finished off a good move by shooting over. Five minutes later Sports had the ball in the net when Leo cut in and shot, the keeper parried but Josh Payne was on the spot to net the rebound. Unfortunately the goal was ruled out by the lino for offside, but we were now showing we could cause the visitors' defence some real problems when we pushed forward. On the half hour mark Ferndown had a shot which went just past the post. The next big chance for Westlands came in the 40th minute when a neat pass from Josh Payne split the Ferndown defence but Leo Hayward's shot was wide of the mark. The final chance of the half came with a Josh Payne header from a George Rigby free kick which the keeper saved fairly easily. Half-time 0-0.
A fairly even half with Ferndown having the best of the early play but Sports then showing their teeth with some fast atttacks. Westlands made a half-time substitution with Sam Gibbs being replaced by Henry Lawrence-Napier.
With the benefit of the manager's half time words to inspire them Sports went for it after the break and only took 3 minutes to break the deadlock. A deft head flick by Leo Hayward put his strike partner JOSH PAYNE clear and he rounded the keeper and stroked the ball into the empty net to make it 1-0 Westlands. Ferndown were finding it increasingly difficult now to cope with Sports attacks and in the 52nd minute we made it 2-0. Leo Hayward broke with pace down the right and his low cross was controlled neatly by JOSH PAYNE who sidestepped a defender and smashed the ball into the roof of the net. A cracking goal this making you wish you could see a replay ! At this point Westlands made another substitution and surprisingly it was 2 goal Josh Payne who came off and he was replaced by Louis Irwin. At 2-0 down Ferndown had nothing to lose and threw men forward in a desperate attempt to get back into the tie. In the 54th minute they had a shot which went over the top and a couple of minutes later a free kick just shaved the post. Sports broke back on the hour when a good diagonal ball from Henry Lawrence-Napier sent Leo Hayward away but he shot over the bar. In the 62nd minute Westlands had the chance to wrap the game up. Louis Irwin was barged over in the box and the referee gave the penalty. Leo Hayward took it but his weak sidefoot shot was saved by the keeper diving to his right. Soon after another Leo Hayward attempt went past the post as Sports piled on the pressure. In the 70th minute we again carved open a now tiring Ferndown defence. A Leo Hayward pass sent LOUIS IRWIN clear and he drew the keeper before slotting neatly into the far corner. At 3-0 the game looked over and Sports made their last substitution, the ever-reliable Ash Powers coming on for Nick Wilton who had just talked himself into the referee's book. With 10 minutes to go Westland wrapped up the scoring with a fourth goal. This time Louis Irwin burst into the box and laid the ball across for LEO HAYWARD to sidefoot in at the far post. The final action saw another great ball from Henry Lawrence-Napier pick out Leo Hayward but his shot was well saved by the Ferndown keeper.
A 4-0 win was a good result against some useful opposition who played a lot of good football and battled well throughout. Unfortunately they came up against a Westlands defence in mean mood with Matt Watson outstanding at the heart of it. At the other end the Ferndown defenders just couldn't contain the pacy Sports attackers and a plus for Westlands was the fact that Leo Hayward got a full 90 minutes under his belt for the first time this season. Add to the mix a hard working midfield typified by young Sol Carney who covered every inch of the field, and the result is a solid performance and a well deserved victory.
We picked the wrong day to visit Berrow which is on the Bristol Channel just a couple of miles north of Burnham-on-Sea. The wind was blowing a gale and during the first half we had lashing rain as well ! A local told us it was due to the tide coming in ! With Sports choosing to face the elements in the opening 45 minutes we were expecting a difficult half and it looked that way from the kick-off as the home side tried to press home their advantage. A lovely through ball inside our full back put their left winger away and Jason Bundy made a smart save at his near post to prevent an early opener. From the subsequent corner Berrow got a shot in which flew over the top. As the home side kept up the attack a good effort came back off Sports crossbar as we struggled keep the home side at bay. Then in the 11th minute, in our first attack, we took the lead. Phil Wells broke down the left and fed a lovely through ball into the path of LEO HAYWARD who took the ball in his stride and fired a dipping shot over the keeper from about 20 yards out, what a start ! Berrow were a bit shocked by this and it took them about ten minutes to get back into gear and create another chance. A shot from the edge of the box through a crowd of players seemed to be heading for the back of the net when up popped a Westlands defender to clear off the line. After this scare we rallied a bit and the game developed into a bit of a midfield battle with Sam Gibbs, George Rigby and Sam Carney taking the sting out of Berrow by winning possession and building up our passing game. Before the break we fashioned a couple of chances, Will Ireland had a shot saved and George Rigby put a shot over the top. 1-0 to Sports at half-time was more than we could have hoped for and we were confident that with the elements in our favour in the second half we could make it difficult for them.
The half was only a minute old when Josh Payne broke down the right and fed George Rigby whose shot came off the bar. A few minutes later Berrow showed they were still dangerous when their player shrugged of a weak tackle, broke into the box, then shot tamely past the post. On the hour mark, as usual, Westlands introduced two subs, with two 16 year-olds Aaron White and Sol Carney coming on to replace Leo Hayward and George Rigby who had both given their all for the cause. Westlands were having the lion's share of possession now but it was still end to end. In the 72nd minute Will Ireland broke into the Berrow box and was brought down. The referee pointed to the spot and up stepped SAM CARNEY to slot the ball calmly into the corner and put us two up. Berrow had an uphill task now with only 18 minutes left but they were given a helping hand almost immediately when, only three minutes after giving us a penalty the referee evened it up by giving our opponents one. As a Berrow player broke into the box a Sports defender went to ground in a tackle and both fell over. The referee pointed to the spot and the kick was tucked away to give our opponents a lifeline. Five minutes later, total disaster for Westlands. The ball was played downfield towards our box and the linesman flagged for offside. The referee ignored the lino and gave a free kick to Berrow as a Westlands defender got a tackle in. The Berrow player hit the free kick along the ground, it somehow got through the wall and squirmed under Jason Bundy's body into the back of the net for the equaliser. Sports were shell-shocked and Jason Bundy had two make two good saves in the dying minutes to keep us in the game. Final score 2-2.
Into extra time and both sides had chances to win the tie. First a Berrow free kick was deflected past the post and then in quick succession Westlands had two gilt-edged chances. First Josh Payne raced through the tiring Berrow defence but the keeper came out and parried his shot. A few minutes later a good through ball put Aaron White in but again the keeper blocked his effort. The final chance of the game was created by a Berrow forward who ran through, rounded the keeper, but shot into the side net from a narrow angle. We were now faced with a penalty shoot-out and you could sense the deflation in the Westland ranks having held a 2-0 lead. Berrow on the other hand were on a high, having looked down and out with 18 minutes of normal time to play. Berrow went first and scored, 1-0 Berrow. Josh Payne stepped up for Westlands but agonisingly his shot came back off the post with the keeper beaten, still 1-0 Berrow. They made it 2-0 with their next kick but Will Ireland reduced the deficit by stroking his penalty into the corner to make it 2-1. Berrow returned the compliment to make it 3-1 and Phil Wells then slid his kick into the corner to make it 3-2. Again Berrow scored to make it 4-2 with Jason Bundy getting fingertips to the ball to no avail. Nick Wilton was next up for Sports and he put the ball in the top corner to make it 4-3. With only one kick left for each team it meant if Berrow scored with their next kick we were out. Their lad smashed the ball into the corner to spark off great celebrations by their players who had snatched an unlikely victory.
From Westlands point of view it was disappointing to lose this match but I think a couple of decisions went against us at crucial moments. We can be pleased with our achievements in this cup run as we have shown we can match County Premier League sides on their own grounds and who knows, next year we might even get a home tie !
Westland's lineup : J.Bundy; N.Wilton, S.Smith, M.Watson; W.Ireland, G.Rigby, S.Gibbs, Sam Carney, P.Wells; J.Payne, L.Hayward. Subs: Sol Carney, A.Powers, A.White.
Saturday 26th October, Dorset Senior League
GILLINGHAM TOWN RES 0 WESTLAND SPORTS 1
The big news in the team selection this week was the return of Leo Hayward to the Westland's side for the first time since February. Leo went straight into the starting line-up in place of Louis Irwin who was on holiday. Another new face on the bench was 16 year old Sol Carney who was making the step up from the youth team for the first time.
Sports were kicking uphill and with the wind also against faced a difficult half as the home side took the initiative in the opening minutes. Jason Bundy was called into action early on with a fine double save but after that early scare Sports began to push on up the hill and the pace of Josh Payne and Leo Hayward began to cause the home defence big problems. After 10 minutes Josh had a good shot saved as Sports tested the Gill keeper for the first time. A minute later Leo had a good run and cross and a few minutes later Josh Payne unfortunately duffed his shot after sprinting through the opposition defence. Another good run by Josh ended with a tremendous drive which whistled over the bar as Sports continued to terrorise the Gill defence on the break. In the 23rd minute Matt Watson came up for a corner and saw his shot cleared off the line. As the half went into the last 15 minutes the home team had a good spell with a couple of good efforts going wide. At the other end, Josh Payne created another chance with some strong running but this time blasted his shot over the bar.
Although the first half ended in stalemate it had been an entertaining 45 minutes with play swinging from end to end. Westlands had given a good account of themselves and we had caused the Gill defence big problems with fast breaks so it would be interesting to see how things developed in the second half with Westlands having the slope and wind advantage.
Sports made a change at half-time with the unwell Sam Gibbs being replaced by Aaron White. The second half kicked off a couple of minutes early and consequently some of the Westland supporters who were still in the bar missed the winning goal !! It came in the 46th minute and was the result of a blunder by the Gillingham keeper. He scuffed his kick from a passback and the ball fell to LEO HAYWARD on the left side of the box and he took one touch and drilled a low left foot shot under the diving keeper into the corner of the net. What a fairytale comeback for Leo and what a start to the second half for Sports ! Four minutes later we should have doubled our lead when a cross to the far post found Aaron White unmarked but he skied his shot over the top. Gillingham had nothing to lose now and pressed with a couple of corners in quick succession, the second of which caused a bit of a scare in the goalmouth before it was eventually cleared. On the hour mark Sports introduced their final two subs, Sol Carney replacing George Rigby and Jake Wolfe replacing Leo Hayward. In the 67th minute the Gillingham number 7, who had looked lively all afternoon, shot just past the post and 5 minutes later Jason Bundy tipped a shot over the top. Gill continued to press but couldn't break down a resolute Sports defence well marshalled by Stu Smith and Matt Watson who between them won everything in the air. Westlands still carried a threat up front and shots from Sol Carney, Aaron White and Josh Payne kept the Gillingham keeper on his toes.
The final whistle was welcome and secured Westlands another good three points on the road. It had been a tough match but Sports had shown great discipline throughout the team and everyone had played their part. Our win was built on a solid defensive display, some dogged hard work in midfield and some fast raiding up front which always had the Gill defence on the back foot.
In the end this was the expect outcome against a team who were holding up the table but sometimes these games can be a bit tricky and it was good to see Sports get control of the ball right from the start and dominate play. We were shooting down the hill but against the wind so no real advantage there. The pitch was lush and suited our passing game which as early as the 3rd minute had our opponents in trouble as Josh Payne ran through to get a shot in which the keeper saved. Sports were looking sharp and in the 10th minute took the lead. Phil Wells overlapped down the left and his low pinpoint cross was turned into the net by JOSH PAYNE. Five minutes later Josh had another good shot touched round the post by the keeper. But he was not to be denied for long and a minute later made it 2-0 to Westlands. A defender made a hash of an attempted clearance, George Rigby latched onto the loose ball and thumped in a shot which the keeper parried, but JOSH PAYNE was on the mark to head in the rebound. Westlands kept up the pressure and in the 19th minute Josh had a shot which the keeper tipped round the post. From the corner Stu Smith headed over the top as Sports kept the pressure on. In the 35th minute Okeford had their first real chance of the game as some sloppy defending allowed their forward a clear shot at goal which went past the post. Just before the break Westlands made the game safe with the third goal. Will Ireland chased a through ball to the byeline and chipped to the far post where LOUIS IRWIN was unmarked to head in.
The 3-0 half time scoreline reflected Sports superiority and we only had to keep up the momentum to secure the points. Okeford had obviously come out for the second half in determined mood and they did enjoy some possession and get a few crosses in but nothing to give Jason Bundy any worries. Back up at the other end Sam Gibbs headed over and in the 54th minute Westlands scored again. Will Ireland put Josh Payne away down the right. Josh outpaced the fullback, got to the byeline and cut the ball back. Louis Irwin dummied the cross and GEORGE RIGBY slammed it in. A classic goal, lovely to watch. At this point Sports put two subs on, Ant Herrin replaced Louis Irwin and Matt Watson was replaced by Aaron White, a young defender from the youth team who was making his senior debut for the club. For the remaining half hour it really was just a case of how many would Westlands score ? Ant Herrin had a good chance when put through but put his shot too close to the keeper who saved well. George Rigby then hit the bar with another piledriver, Sam Carney shot over the top, Ant Herrin shot straight at the keeper, George Rigby had another shot saved and Stu Smith headed a corner wide before we managed to put the ball in the net. Again Josh Payne, who had terrorised the Okeford defence all afternoon, was the provider. Cutting in from the left leaving defenders trailing in his wake, he squared the ball to ANT HERRIN who sidefooted in from six yards. That was the end of the scoring but before the final whistle Okeford managed to squander their best chance of the game when their player headed over the top when unmarked at the far post. In the dying minutes Josh Payne shot just past and Sam Gibbs went on a storming run before his attempted shot was blocked by a defender.
A 5-0 scoreline is always a nice result no matter who you are playing and the Westland lads can be well pleased with their afternoon's work. Some of the passing and approach play was excellent and the finishing was much better this week. Obviously harder tasks ahead but a good day for Westlands.
This was definitely one for the spectators, plenty of incident throughout despite only two goals. For the first ten minutes the teams seemed to size each other up, like boxers in the opening round, but it was Westlands who threw the first punch, Stu Smith heading a Sam Gibbs corner over. Sports started to apply the pressure now and Josh Payne just failed to connect with a Phil Wells cross in front of goal. Next Josh fed Dan Rudge who turned his man and got his shot away, unfortunately into the keeper's arms. Josh Payne then got to the bye-line and cut the ball back for Dan Rudge to have another crack, again well saved by the keeper. A good passing movement by Matt Bullock and Josh Payne carved open the visitor's defence but the final shot by Phil Wells flew over the bar. There was 26 minutes on the clock before Lacy made our keeper work. A good break down the right and a low driven cross had Jason Bundy diving to save. A couple of minutes later and it was back to the other end as Josh Payne had a header tipped over the bar. The Kingston Lacy goalkeeper was proving a hard man to beat at this point as Sports really turned the screw. Sam Gibbs was next to have a go, shooting over from distance. A couple of minutes later Sam Gibbs was put through and this time his shot beat the keeper's dive but came back off the post. Sam Carney got his head to the rebound and his effort slipped agonisingly past the post with the keeper beaten. At half-time and the score still 0-0 we wondered if those misses would come back to haunt us. Manager Stu Smith substituted himself at half time and was replaced by Henry Lawrence-Napier.
Kingston Lacy were first to mount an attack in the second half and had a pot at goal which was deflected for a corner. After 50 minutes Westlands introduced two more subs with George Rigby and Will Ireland replacing Dan Rudge and Sam Carney. As we adjusted to the new formation our opponents broke through and a thumping shot came back off the Sports crossbar. That was the wake-up call we needed and just before the hour mark we should have gone one up. Not for the first time Josh Payne outpaced the Lacy defenders and drove into the box. A despairing tackle from behind brought him down and the referee immediately pointed to the spot. Up stepped Nick Wilton to take the penalty but his shot was a weak one and the keeper saved easily. Was this going to be one of these days !! Sports answered that question within a couple of minutes. George Rigby hit a scorching shot from 20 yards which the keeper did well to palm onto the bar. As the ball dropped LOUIS IRWIN was on the spot to head home and break the deadlock. Westlands kept the pressure on and went looking for that second goal. A Matt Bullock corner was palmed into the net by the Kingston Lacy keeper but the ref disallowed the goal for a foul on the keeper. A couple of minutes later Josh Payne again stormed through the visitor's defence but with only the keeper to beat and the goal gaping he hit his shot too close to the keeper and he stuck out a leg and saved. In the 70th minute a cross from the right was completely missed by a defender giving Phil Wells a clear strike at goal. Unfortunately, Phil's shot came back off the post, another chance gone ! In the 82nd minute a collective sigh of relief was heard around the ground as Westlands scored the crucial second goal ! A long diagonal ball from Matt Bullock was headed back across goal by Josh Payne and LOUIS IRWIN was there to tap in his second goal of the day. Surely that was the points safe ? Sports defenders seemed to think so as they allowed a Kingston Lacy player to run in unmarked and get a shot in which came off the post with Jason Bundy beaten. That was the last incident of note in the game apart from the referee's final whistle which ended proceedings.
On reflection, a welcome three points but we made it hard for ourselves. Our failure to convert scoring chances was poor and will cost us dearly if repeated in tighter games. On the positive side we created plenty of chances and on another day could have won more comfortably. That's three wins on the trot now so the prospects are good.
This Somerset Senior Cup 2nd round tie was a tough assignment for Westlands against a County Premier League side who had won all their home games so far this season. There were three changes from the side that won last week. Jason Bundy returned between the sticks, Henry Lawrence-Napier started in midfield and Louis Irwin replaced Mike Rousell up front. We kicked off in lovely sunshine in a seaside setting but the home side quickly showed they meant business by pinning Sports in their own half for the first 10 minutes of the match. Westlands couldn’t keep the ball and kept the pressure on themselves by giving away silly fouls which gave Watchet the chance to get good balls into the box. Eventually we managed to mount an attack or two and in the 14th minute an off the ball kick saw the Watchet number 5 booked and gave Sports a free kick on the edge of the box. Unfortunately Sam Carney drove his attempt straight into the wall. Five minutes later came a big moment in the match. As a Watchet player drove into the Westland’s box, Stu Smith stuck out a leg and down he went. Penalty ! Despite our protests the decision was made and it looked like a bad start to the match for Sports. But Jason Bundy had other ideas, diving low to his right to push the ball round the post. A tremendous save by our big keeper. That gave Sports a bit of heart and although the home side probably still had the edge, we were getting our share of possession and mounting a few attacks on their goal. In the 32nd minute we took the lead. JOSH PAYNE cut in from the right, went past a couple of defenders and stuck the ball in the back of the net via a deflection. A great solo effort by Josh and just reward as his pace had caused the Watchet defence problems on several occasions. As we entered the last 5 minutes of the half Watchet made a big push for the equaliser. In a tremendous goalmouth scramble a couple of efforts were blocked, Jason Bundy pulled off a great save from point-blank range and finally a shot just whistled past the post. A couple of minutes later a thundering shot came back off our crossbar and then Jason Bundy again had to dive low to save a free kick. We were relieved to hear the half-time whistle and, although we had rode our luck, we were still in front !
Sports made the first attack of the second half when Josh Payne again outstripped the Watchet defence to force a corner which was punched clear by the keeper. At the other end, Watchet had a free kick which they put over the top. It was a pretty even game during the next 15 minutes with Sports giving as good as they got. Then in the 65th minute Westlands forced a corner out on the left, Sam Gibbs put in an inswinger and JOSH PAYNE outjumped his marker to head in and make it 2-0.
This was just the cushion we wanted but we almost got caught cold in the very next minute when a long throw-in was headed goalwards but luckily Nick Wilton was there to clear off the line. Watchet had nothing to lose now and pushed men forward but Westlands always looked dangerous on the break with Matt Bullock causing the opposition a few problems and the Sports defence were battling hard. With 10 minutes to go Watchet pulled one back. Sports seemed to switch off as a Watchet forward was allowed to drift into the box past a couple of static defenders and fire a shot into the far corner. So, for the last 10 minutes it was backs to the wall for Westlands. We just couldn’t clear our lines and Ash Powers was brought on up front to try and hold the ball up and give our defence a breather. Some desperate but heroic defending kept the home side at bay with their last effort being a free kick which flew past the post.
The final whistle signalled the end of a tremendous display by the whole Westlands team. We dug in and ground out a typical away cup tie performance, defending well and taking our chances when they came.
Westlands made a couple of changes after the draw at Blandford last week, Luke Silcox replaced the injured Jason Bundy in goal and Mike Rousell started up front. Henry Lawrence-Napier was also added to the squad which looked pretty strong on the day. Luke Silcox was called into early action with a couple of good punches in a crowded box as the visitors started the match on the front foot. There was quite a blustery strong cross-wind which made life difficult and, with both teams struggling to create any chances, a dour midfield battle ensued. Territorially, Upwey & Broadwey were having the upper hand but they couldn't break down a well organised Sports defence to get a shot on goal. Westlands, meantime, were relying on a ball over the top to utilise the pace of Josh Payne and Mike Rousell. Unfortunately Upwey were playing a canny offside game and many of Sports attacks were cut short. Half-time came with scarcely an attempt at goal at either end.
As the second half shaped up, it was noticeable that Westlands were pushing forward now and they soon created the first real chance of the game. A sliderule pass from Will Ireland dissected the Upwey defence and put Josh Payne through on goal. As the keeper came out Josh drove the ball past him towards the far corner but it slipped agonisingly just past the far post. Three minutes later Josh had another go, this time his shot went well over. In the 54th minute Sam Carney had a chance but shot weakly into the keeper's arms. This was more like it from Sports who were really having a go now, and a minute later we opened the scoring. Dan Rudge hit a screamer from 20 yards which the keeper did well to parry. Josh Payne, following up, had another shot which the keeper dived to block. Again the ball rebounded to Josh who took it past the stranded goalie and from an acute angle shot for goal. As the ball ran along the line MIKE ROUSELL smashed it into the back of the net to make sure. Upwey and Broadwey were stung into action by this and at the other end a lob-shot went just over the Westlands bar. Despite this we were still on top and in the 73rd minute put the game to bed. Matt Watson won a good header in midfield which was helped on to LOUIS IRWIN who ran through and slotted it past the keeper. There was no way back for our opponents now and in the 82nd minute we put the icing on the cake. Sam Gibbs picked out the unmarked JOSH PAYNE with a free kick and he powered a header past the keeper to give us a comfortable 3-0 victory.
This was our first win in the league this season, but as I commented in the preview, the team is beginning to gell and the signs were there the previous week that a victory was not far off. We have a decent squad now with some strength in depth and they are all battling for each other which is a good sign of a developing team spirit. However, we won't get too carried away as we will have to step it up a notch again next week with a tough trip to Watchet in the Somerset Senior Cup.
After a disappointing display last week it was good to see Westlands knuckle down from the start and we dominated the opening 10 minutes without really threatening the home goal. In the 11th minute, however, a free kick from Sam Gibbs wasn't cleared and Nick Wilton got a shot on target but the keeper saved. A couple of minutes later we forced a corner and from the reulting kick Louis Irwin headed past the post. After 15 minutes a good break by Louis down the right ended with George Rigby shooting over. Soon after we had Blandford's first attempt on goal when their player blasted a shot miles over the bar. Sports continued to dominate play but the next good chance didn't come until the 35th minute when a nice through ball from George Rigby was taken off Josh Payne's toe by a defender's last-ditch lunge. In the 38th minute Blandford had a real let-off. George Rigby fired in a powerfully hit cross from the right wing which completely flummoxed the keeper but hit the underside of the bar and then hit the post and bounced out. The rebound fell to Josh Payne but unfortunately he scooped his shot over the top. Minutes later Louis Irwin had a chance but shot straight at the keeper and he followed this up with a well struck shot, unfortunately again, straight at the keeper. That was the end of a half that Westlands had dominated but with no goals on the board had we passed up our chance ?
The second half started as the first had ended, with Sports pushing forward. Louis Irwin got his head to a Nick Wilton cross but again the keeper saved. But he had no chance in the 50th minute when Sports opened the scoring with a cracking goal. Louis Irwin sent Ash Powers away on the overlap down the right wing. Ash muscled his way to the bye-line and whipped over a driven cross that was met by JOSH PAYNE whose diving header deflected the ball into the far corner. A super goal and well deserved, surely we would go on and finish the job ? Well, we kept attacking, Josh Payne shot wide and Will Ireland shot over the top when set up by Sam Carney. Then in the 67th minute disaster struck ! Stu Smith gave the ball away with a misplaced pass and a Blandford player was clean through. Jason Bundy made an attempt to block and forced the player wide but he steered the ball into the empty net from an acute angle for an unlikely equaliser. We lost our composure a bit after this setback and allowed Blandford back into the game. In the final 15 minutes errors were being made with alarming regularity and in the last minute, when we gave the ball away again, a tremendous save by Jason Bundy saved us from ignominious defeat.
On reflection, this was a much better performance from Westlands, it was nice to see some good passing and possession of the ball which was our trademark last season. We still seem unable to turn our pressure into goals but we have some good strikers on the books this season so hopefully that will come in time. The defensive errors are still a worry as they seem to be recurring every week. Also a bit concerning was the lack of composure shown when the game turned against us. More maturity required in some quarters, but as I said earlier, an improved performance and our first point of the season so onwards and upwards.
Before the match started a minutes silence was observed by both teams and the spectators in memory of Callum Denman.
We knew Chickerell would give us a hard game and they they started as if they meant business, getting possession and moving the ball around well. Nevertheless it was Westlands who had the first clear-cut chance when a Josh Payne glancing header from a corner just cleared the bar. A few minutes later Chickerell responded with a free kick which went just over. In the 28th minute Josh Payne shot wide for Sports but in their next attack the visitors took the lead. The ball was switched across the field from right to left and their number 9 was left totally unmarked to sidefoot the ball into the far corner. A nicely worked goal but someone in the Sports defence wasn't doing his job, terrible marking. With Sports reeling a bit Chickerell made another chance but their forward shot over. Back came Westlands and Josh Payne burst through only for the keeper to block his effort. After 35 minutes Chickerell's number 9 put a free kick just wide as the game swung from end to end. The half ended with Louis Irwin latching on to a good ball from Will Ireland. He cut in and shot but again the keeper saved.
After a couple of minutes of the second half Stu Smith threw himself at a Matt Bullock free kick and just failed to connect. The match was in a bit of a stalemate now with Chickerell happy with what they had and Westlands unable to break them down and create scoring chances. We had a couple of efforts. In the 77th minute George Rigby glanced a header wide and in the 89th minute an Ant Herrin shot from long range went wide. The final nail in the coffin came in the 90th minute. A long ball was punted forward to the edge of our box. Jason Bundy charged out, collided with Stu Smith, and as they both fell in a heap, a Chickerell forward walked the ball into the empty net.
A disappointing result for Westlands against a good side but one I think we should be able to beat. No real cutting edge going forward and basic arrors costing us at the back. Its a deadly combination that will need to be sorted out before next week's match at Blandford.
Our first competitive match of the season turned out to be a real physical test with the two teams battling it out for 120 minutes in North Somerset. That we finished the match looking the stronger side is a testament to the team's fitness but the hard grounds are undoubtedly causing injury problems and a few players were hobbling after the match.
In the opening exchanges Westlands quickly took the initiative and from an early corner Nick Wilton glanced a near post header just wide. This was followed by a George Rigby header from a Dan Rudge cross which also missed the target. Sports continued to make the running and in the 15th minute Dan Rudge had a shot which went wide. A couple of minutes later Jason Bundy in the Westlands goal had to come off his line quickly to block a shot from an advancing forward as the home team showed their pace up front for the first time. In the 22nd minute of the game George Rigby squared the ball to Louis Irwin, but with the goal at his mercy, the youngster blazed his shot just over the bar. We needed to score to take advantage of all our pressure and in the 38th minute we broke the deadlock. Ant Herrin, whose close control caused the opposition problems all afternoon, had a shot at goal which the keeper only parried and GEORGE RIGBY followed up to score his first goal for the club on his competitive debut. Sports continued to press but no more goals were forthcoming and we went in for the half-time break with a 1-0 lead which we felt didn't really reflect our dominance.
As the second half started, Congresbury were obviously fired up as their first half performance had been poor and they were determined to put that right. Almost immediately one of their midfielders smacked a shot off the post and this inspired the home side even more. A minute later Jason Bundy tipped a netbound shot over the bar and shortly after a looping header from a Congresbury forward once again came back off the woodwork. The home side were well on top now and we just couldn't get hold of the ball.They were winning all the 50/50's and their pace up front was causing our defence all sorts of problems. In the 63rd minute a header flew just over our bar as the home team looked for the equaliser. It came in the 70th minute with a nice build-up. The two home forwards combined nicely to set up the chance which their number 10 smashed into the back of the net with his left foot. Things looked a bit bleak at this moment but, to be fair, the Westland lads gradually stemmed the tide and as we moved into the last 10 minutes we began to push the home team back and gain some possession of the ball. In the 83rd minute Ant Herrin had a shot go over the top and the 90 minutes ended with the teams locked at 1-1.
Going into extra time it was evident the pendulum had swung back Westlands way and with a couple of minutes gone Dan Rudge had a header saved by the keeper. Ant Herrin followed this up with a shot over the top as Sports started the overtime on the front foot. Just to keep us on the edge of our seats Congresbury then attacked and a thumping shot from 25 yards beat Jason Bundy all ends up but luckily the shot came back out off the post and was cleared to safety. Sports replied to this let off in the best possible way. Ant Herrin had a snap shot at goal from the edge of the box which the keeper again spilled and DAN RUDGE was on hand to smash in what proved to be the winning goal. This was also Dan's first goal for the club in his competitive debut so both scorer's had a memorable afternoon.
This time there was no response from the home side and despite tired legs it was Westlands who were pressing. As the match moved into the final 15 minutes, Ant Herrin went on a mazy dribble which took him past three defenders almost to the bye-line. He cut the ball across to Jake Wolfe whose goalbound effort struck a defender's back and was scrambled away. The final drama of the afternoon fittingly came from Westland's skipper Sam Gibbs who had been an inspired example to his team-mates all afternoon. Picking the ball up 20 yards out, he hit a thumping shot which dipped over the keeper's head and smacked off the crossbar.
That was it, a 2-1 victory and a good hard-fought win for Westlands. We had a poor second half when we just appeared to switch off but all in all we were the better team for long spells and in extra time looked the most likely winners. We will undoubtedly have harder tasks to come but for our first competitive match of the season against opponents who had already played 7 league games, it was a satisfying afternoon's work.
Sunday 6th April 2014, Dorset Youth League (U18) Div.1
WESTLAND SPORTS 7 ROSSGARTH 1
The winter weather returned to Alvington and the wind lashed the rain across the pitch. The pitch itself was in good nick. Jack Raeburn pulled out mid morning, so just the two subs James Prendergast and Jake Coombes on the bench this week in a game that we had to win.
Not the best of starts Rossgarth took the kick off, lobbed the ball forward and from the headed clearance the forward half volleyed a wind assisted shot straight into the net. One nil down inside 8 seconds time. Fair play to the lads they didn’t panic and against the wind started to play some nice passing football, but it did take us a while to find our shooting boots. Chances came and went but we still carried on creating, however our opponents demonstrated that they were always capable of adding to the score. Mid way through the half we got our breakthrough a good move down the left involving Cian Cabell and Dan Quirke ended up with CONNOR LINHAM finishing well past the keeper. 5 minutes before half time we took the lead from another move down the left which ended up with Henry Lawrence-Napier squaring the ball to DAN QUIRKE to fire in. Right on half time CONNOR LINHAM got his second with a good finish from just inside the box. 3-1 up at half time now we just had to keep our discipline and see the game out.
With the wind behind us and our central midfielders of Sam Smith, George Russell and Henry Lawrence-Napier taking total control we never looked like losing. Dan Quirke and Connor Linham had several opportunities to increase the score but came up against a resolute keeper. The impressive Max Rowswell and Cian Cabell almost made it a front four as we kept the pressure on. Defensively we were now well on top and Frankie Vass, Johnny Ireland and Luke Jackson all made some good forward runs. In goal Luke Silcox had a quiet second half following a flurry of activity in the first. Jake Coombes and James Prendergast were introduced and it was not long before CIAN CABELL (2) added a couple of goals to the tally. The first was rifled through a load of bodies and the second came after a good jinking run and a pile driver of a finish. Goal number six arrived when Jake Coombes dummied a through ball allowing MAX ROWSWELL through to finish past the keeper and get a well deserved goal. Finally George Russell stepped up just before the end and blasted in number seven to cap a fine personal performance. Considering the start, a great squad performance against a team battling for a top 3 spot.
A record now of played 19, won 13, drawn 5 and lost 1 is pretty impressive following the player problems we have experienced. We now sit proudly at the top of the league with one game of our season to go. If we can win our last game against Blandford on 20th April, we need others to lose but who knows we could still get something out of the season
Westland Sports Line up: L. Silcox, F Vass, L Jackson, J Ireland, H Lawrence-Napier, G Russell, S Smith, C Cabell, M Rowswell, C Linham, D Quirke. Subs: J Coombes, J Prendergast
Sunday 30th March 2014, Dorset Youth League (U18) Div.1
WESTLAND SPORTS 7 CORFE MULEN UTD 0
We returned to Alvington for the first of our final 3 home games. The weather was fantastic and the pitch looked superb. For the first time this year I had too many players to choose from and had to leave people out of the squad. Sam Smith was suspended so James Prendergast came into the starting line up and Cian Cabell, Dan Quirke, and Frankie Vass started on the bench.
We started the game well and quickly got into our stride. Our opponents belied their lowly league position and played some good stuff and kept us on our toes in the early stages of the match. As per previous weeks everything we did was good up to the final third where we seemed to lack that final bit of composure. Chances came and went for Max Rowswell, Jake Coombes and Connor Linham, however on the plus side we kept creating them. Defensively we had to stay sharp and Sam Watts marshalled his troops, Johnny Ireland and Jack Raeburn, with his normal authority. Luke Silcox had to be alert on several occasions to sweep up behind. George Russell, Luke Jackson and Henry Lawrence-Napier, who ran the half marathon in the morning, kept things ticking over in midfield feeding Max Rowswell and Jake Coombes upfront and Connor Linham and James Prendergast out wide. For all of the chances we couldn’t get on the score sheet until the 35th minute. A
well taken corner from Conor Linham was powered into the roof of the net by HENRY LAWRENCE-NAPIER, one Nil up and that was how it stayed until half time. The emphasis was on us now to kill the game off as soon as possible to ensure the three points. Within 5 minutes of the restart from yet another corner SAM WATTS powered in another header. Shortly after marathon man Henry came off with cramp and was replaced by Cian Cabell, James Prendergast was replaced by Dan Quirke and Frankie Vass came on for Johnny Ireland. DAN QUIRKE (3) arrived on the scene with his normal bang and proceeded to net a hatrick in the next 35 minutes as well as setting up JAKE COOMBES to finish from six yards. There was also time for SAM WATTS to grab himself a second and make the final score 7 nil. This probably flattered us a little bit but it does show what you can do if you have three subs to bring into the game in the second half and freshen up the legs.
A good team performance from all 14 players and the best news of all Sherborne lost 3 1 to Poppies meaning that we will go to the top of the league next week if we can beat Rossgarth. Looking forward to having a full squad of 14 again next week and reporting on another 3 points gained!
Westland Sports Line up: L. Silcox, S Watts, J Raeburn, L Jackson, J Ireland, H Lawrence-Napier, J Prendergast, G Russell, M Rowswell, C Linham, J Coombs. Subs: C Cabell, D Quirke, F Vass
Sunday 23rd March 2014, Dorset Youth League (U18) Div.1
BLANDFORD UTD 0 WESTLAND SPORTS 2
Our last trip of the season took us to Blandford with 11 fit players and an injured keeper. The decision was taken to start with Luke Silcox in goal and make the change if his ankle didn’t hold up. Fortunately we managed to control the game well enough that he had a quiet afternoon. James Prendergast returned to the squad and started on the bench.
We started the game playing with the wind on a pitch that was in very good condition. Right from the off we had a good shape about us and very quickly got control of the game. Although our tempo wasn’t quite there our domination of possession was good and we moved the ball across the park well. Both Connor Linham and Johnny Ireland out on the flanks were impressive fizzing balls across the box. The only bit that was missing was the final finish. Several chances fell to Jake Coombes inside the six yard box but he blazed over, Max Rowswell wriggled through on occasions and was blocked by the keeper or missed the target. George Russell, Henry Lawrence-Napier and Connor Linham also tried their luck from distance but all to no avail. With 30 minutes gone SAM SMITH picked the ball up on the left hand side dummied a pass to Connor and drove into the box and finished calmly in the far corner. Would this open the floodgates? The chances kept coming but we got to half time only 1-0 up without Luke Silcox having to make a save.
The emphasis was on us now to kill the game off and it was key we didn’t let Blandford back into the match. We again continued to dominate. Max was foiled again on several occasions with brave saves from the keeper, our long range shots were not good some clearing both the goal and the cricket pitch behind. Sam Smith got in behind the defence twice and had shots blocked when perhaps a square pass would have created a goal. George Russell went on a run into the box and lifted the ball over both keeper and bar. James Prendergast joined the fun and delivered a couple of telling crosses all to no avail before he proved that his long range shooting was as wayward as everyone else. On 75 minutes a corner forced a massive scramble where the keeper and a number of defenders somehow kept the ball out of the net for the second goal. On 80 minutes we were over committed upfield and Blandford broke away for their only opportunity of the game, luckily the striker was as surprised as us and managed to scoop his shoot over the bar from 8 yards. We had to wait until two minutes from the end for our second goal. A poor Blandford free kick was cleared to James Prendergast on the left who moved it onto Connor Linham. Connor took his time and delivered a great ball for HENRY LAWRENCE-NAPIER to finish at the far post. A 2-0 final score gave us the three points which we fully deserved and with a bit more luck and care we could have had more goals. The pleasing part was we maintained our discipline and shape, reducing the opposition to one clear effort on goal.
Again an effort to get 12 players together and we now move onto our final 3 games. They are all at home which may help getting a team. Corfe Mullen up next week and lets see if we can’t find that finishing touch in front of goal!
Westland Sports Line up: L. Silcox, S Watts, J Raeburn, L Jackson, J Ireland, H Lawrence-Napier, S Smith, G Russell, M Rowswell, C Linham, J Coombs. Subs: J Prendergast
Sunday 16th March 2014, Dorset Youth League (U18) Div.1
BOURNEMOUTH POPPIES 1 WESTLAND SPORTS 1
On another beautiful day we arrived in Bournemouth to take on Poppies with a bare 11. Many thanks to the 11 who did commit themselves, not for the first time this season, to what turned out to be a very tight and physical game. It was a match we had to win to keep alive any hope of winning the league, so it is somewhat disappointing after such a long and difficult season to have people drop out late in the day.
We started the game playing into both the sun and the breeze on a reasonable if bobbly pitch. Both teams seemed to know the importance of the match and kept each other at arms length in the opening exchanges. It was very physical and played at a high tempo but neither side really had control. Both defences were tight which made it difficult for the forwards and midfield was just a battle and we gave as good as we got. In a half of very few chances both teams managed to get opportunities from corners. First Henry Lawrence-Napier narrowly headed wide midway through the half, then Poppies had an almost identical situation. Louis Irwin and Sam Smith had shots blocked and Sam Watts had a header saved by the keeper. Poppies had their half chances as well but Jack Raeburn, Sam Watts, Luke Jackson and Henry Lawrence-Napier snuffed out all the threats with keeper Luke Silcox sweeping up the debris behind. Nil Nil at half time and all to play for.
The emphasis was on us maintaining our concentration as we felt there was going to be very little in the game come the end, our major worry was whether we would run out of steam. Our midfield four of Johnny Ireland, Sam Smith, George Russell and Max Rowswell rolled their sleeves up and kept driving forward supporting Jake Coombes and Louis Irwin upfront to try and create that elusive opening goal. With tired legs the game became stretched and the opportunities came and went. Poppies took the lead with half an hour to go following a spell of pressure when a deep cross was squeezed in at the far post. We dusted ourselves down and went again, Louis Irwin and Sam Smith again had blocked opportunities, Jake Coombes had the opportunity to shoot a couple of times, and Sam Watts and Henry Lawrence-Napier were always dangerous at set pieces. Max Rowswell was buzzing around but just couldn’t quite get the breakthrough. With Sam Watts and Max now up front we kept pushing but a couple of excellent Silcox saves kept us from falling further behind. But following all of our good football the goal came with a long punt upfield from an exhausted Jack Raeburn. It landed perfectly for MAX ROWSWELL who burst through and superbly finished past the keeper with 2 minutes to go. There was still time for Poppies to put us under pressure but we hung on for a deserved point against the best team in this league.
We are probably now out of the running for the title but with 4 victories in our final games you never know. Congratulations to all of the lads who made the trip you showed great pride and commitment and thoroughly deserved your point. Next up for us is a trip to Blandford never an easy place to go, lets hope we get a few more people available !!
Westland Sports Line up: L. Silcox, S Watts, J Raeburn, L Jackson, J Ireland, H Lawrence-Napier, S Smith, G Russell, M Rowswell, L Irwin, J Coombs. Subs: None
Sunday 9th March 2014, Dorset Youth League (U18) Div.1
WESTLAND SPORTS 2 WIMBORNE TOWN 1
Shorts were the order of the day as the sun finally came out and we arrived to take on Wimborne Town. Jack Raeburn returned in defence and Luke Silcox’s injured ankle meant Sam Watts took over in goal, which allowed Cian Cabell to return to the bench which contained four subs, a stunning achievement!
After the panic of having to find a replacement ref during the morning, and we thank Sherborne for calling their game off to make one available, we kicked off full of confidence and hoping for a routine win, how wrong we were. We started well and had good control of the ball and the game, but lacking that little bit of zip to push on and open the scoring. We had plenty of the ball in safe areas of the pitch but found it difficult to push forward and hurt our opponents. When we did create a chance we lacked the composure to score. Half chances came and went without us really bothering the keeper. It seems most teams we play don’t have that problem, half a sniff of glory and they score. Midway through the half we allowed a long punt from the keeper to bounce, then under hit the back pass and the forward pounced beating Sam to the ball and lifting it into the net. One nil and another example of how all teams in this league can give you a problem. We picked ourselves up and carried on where we left off dominating possession without really putting our opponents under pressure. When Connor Linham smacked a ball against the underside of the bar from 25 yards and it bounced away it really looked like it was not going to be our day. Half time arrived with us still being one down, not really much to say other than keep going, maybe move the ball a bit quicker, and sometimes be a little more direct.
The second half carried on in the same pattern and we appeared to carry more of a threat but couldn’t find the finish required. 10 minutes in and the break through came. After a poor throw from the keeper, JAKE COOMBES picked the ball up on the edge of the box and hit it over the keeper and into the net Gerrard style ! Back on level terms and now looking for the winner. Cian Cabell came on for Jake Coombes and within minutes curled a lovely free kick into the box which Jack Raeburn headed back across the box for SAM SMITH to poke home from close range. 2-1 up and now looking to kill the game off, Connor Linham and Dan Quirke were replaced by James Prendergast and Blair Rodber, several more opportunities came and went but we couldn’t add to the score. A fantastic one handed save from Sam Watts in the dying minutes prevented us from dropping two points and sliding out of the title race.
Next up for us are Bournemouth Poppies, a real tough game and one we must win. There are still 5 teams who can win this league of which Poppies are probably favourites. However we must remember as a team that contains no defenders and after all of the ups and downs of our season we have not lost a league game since we played Sherborne back in September, we have 5 games to go and 5 victories will put us in a very strong position for a top two finish. If we can convert our dominance of possession into opportunities and goals we will not be far away..........over to you lads one last push required!!!!
Westland Sports Line up:, S Watts, J Raeburn, L Jackson, J Ireland, C Linham, H Lawrence-Napier, S Smith, G Russell, M Rowswell, D Quirke, J Coombs. Subs: J Prendergast, B Rodber, C Cabell, L Silcox
Sunday 2nd March 2014, Dorset Youth League (U18) Div.1
PORTLAND TOWN 1 WESTLAND SPORTS 4
On yet another wet and windy day we made the short trip to Redlands Sports Hub in Weymouth to play Portland. We arrived with the pitch looking in reasonable condition but it was already very wet. Connor Linham and James Prendergast rejoined the squad and Jack Raeburn and Frankie Vaas missed out due to work commitments.
The game kicked off on time with us having the wind at our back. It became obvious very quickly that the surface was very wet in the middle and both teams were struggling to stay on their feet. A game to use the flanks which was something we struggled with in the first half. As expected with the conditions we dominated the game possession wise but struggled to create clear cut opportunities, like last week it was going to have to be a workmanlike performance. Connor Linham, Dan Quirke and Max Rowswell all got away down the flanks but we couldn’t get the quality required on the final ball to really trouble the opposition. George Russell, Sam Smith and Henry Lawrence-Napier tried their luck from range but the keeper was equal to all that was thrown at him. 15 minutes into the game DAN QUIRKE opened the scoring direct from a corner with a vicious curling effort. The game followed a similar pattern after the goal but the opposition did still have a threat on the break but our back three stayed disciplined. After 30 minutes and a lot of goal kicks GEORGE RUSSELL picked the ball up in the middle of the park, skipped past several challenges, and drove the ball from the edge of the box into the bottom corner of the net to allow us to lead 2 nil at half time.
With the weather and pitch getting worse by the minute we turned straight around to play into the wind with just two points to think about, get the ball out wide and keep good discipline at the back. Against the wind I think we played even better as we attacked down both flanks with Connor Linham and Max Rowswell and created numerous chances that we failed to convert. James Prendergast and Blair Rodber came on to replace Jake Coombes and Max Rowswell to give them a deserved rest, which allowed us to push Connor up top. Dan Quirke wasn’t having one of his better days in front of goal, he could have had a hat full, but he showed his value by creating opportunities for others. CONNOR LINHAM grabbed his first on the hour mark after Dan beat the onrushing keeper to the ball out on the wing and squared it across goal. Ten minutes later CONNOR LINHAM burst through on his own, rounded the keeper, and scored from a tight angle with a very composed finish. In between we managed to concede an own goal from a wind-assisted free kick to make the final score a comfortable 4 -1.
With the pitch now almost unplayable the ref brought the game to an end and it has to be said he should be complemented on an excellent display. Considering the conditions he handled both teams exceptionally well and chose to talk to players rather than brandish cards.
6 games to go now and still well in the hunt, the main thing for us is to now make sure we keep picking up the three points and put pressure on the other contenders who are all going to be busy playing each other. The squad is now committed and look like they are enjoying it. Next up are Wimborne at home who we drew with earlier in the season, a result that will not be good enough for us next weekend !
Westland Sports Line up: L Silcox, S Watts, L Jackson, J Ireland, C Linham, H Napier, S Smith, G Russell, M Rowswell, D Quirke, J Coombs. Subs: J Prendergast, B Rodber
Sunday 23rd February 2014, Dorset Youth League (U18) Div.1
HAMWORTHY UTD 1 WESTLAND SPORTS 1
We completed our tough month of fixtures with a trip to Hamworthy. Fortunately the weather was dry but a blustery wind and a lumpy playing surface looked like it would spoil our passing game. Luke Jackson was brought into the starting line up, Frankie Vaas and debutant Blair Rodber made up the subs bench which gave us a strong squad. Further adjustments were made on the pitch when the referee failed to show and George Rigby stepped into perform the role with much success.
The game kicked off 10 minutes late and we started reasonably well although were badly hampered by the surface. It was going to be a day to do the simple things well and play a bit more direct than we like. Things were a bit too slow but we managed to control the game well and just about looked the better side although we struggled to create chances. From early on it was obvious it was going to be a scrappy game which would probably end up being decided by mistakes. There were no real chances of note in the first 20 minutes until we conceded a scrappy free kick 40 yards from goal. The ball was thumped into the box and although we had several chances to clear the ball we allowed it to bounce around until the forward smashed it into the net, poor discipline all round on our part. The remainder of the half saw us pick up the tempo and control the game but we just couldn’t quite create a clear cut opening. We had several corners, scuffed shots from the edge of the box and looked the more likely to score but it wouldn’t fall right for us. Hamworthy remained dangerous on the break but we coped well with the threat.
One down at half time but well in the game and not really a need to change too much other than try to get the ball wider more often. We started the second half as we finished the first pushing for the opening and with Hamworthy defending resolutely. 15 minutes in we made a couple of changes bringing on Frankie Vaas and Blair Rodber, pushing Sam Watts up front to give us a 3-4-3 formation. This allowed Hamworthy to put us under pressure at the back but we restricted them to a couple of long range efforts that didn’t trouble Luke Silcox. At the other end Sam’s physical presence was causing the home defence problems and Max Rowswell's pace started to allow us to get in behind. Half chances came for Dan Quirke, Jack Raeburn, Sam Watts, and George Russell but just as we looked like we were going to have to take a defeat Dan Quirke surged into the box flicked the ball across to MAX ROWSWELL who forced it over the line. 1-1 and a point gained, we almost managed to win the match when a minute later when Dan again raced into the box only to have his shot blocked by the keeper, Max got to the rebound only for the keeper to block that as well.......a fantastic double stop.
A good month for us, 4 tough games 2 wins and 2 draws although there is a feeling we could have won both of the drawn games. The spirit is really good and we now need to carry that into the remaining 7 games. Next weekend we travel to Portland, the attitude and application needs to be maintained as there are no easy games in this league. 5 wins in March will put us in a very strong position as the other top teams all play each other!
Westland Sports Line up: L Silcox, S Watts, L Jackson, J Raeburn, J Ireland, H Lawrence-Napier, S Smith, G Russell, M Rowswell, D Quirke, J Coombs. Subs: F Vaas, B Rodber
Sunday 16th February 2014, Dorset Youth League (U18) Div.1
WESTLAND SPORTS 2 BOURNEMOUTH POPPIES 2
Following on from the two great results we have already had this month we welcomed unbeaten Bournemouth Poppies to Alvington for what promised to be our toughest game of the season so far. The selected squad showed only one change, Louis Irwin in for the suspended Cian Cabell. The only disappointment was the unexplained no show from Connor Linham. Although the pitch was very heavy the weather was perfect and the sun shone at last !
Having stressed the importance to deny Poppies any room in midfield we proceeded to start very poorly and were one down within a minute. A cross field pass was cut out in midfield and the Poppies striker didn’t need any further invitation to drive the ball into the net from the edge of the box. 15 minutes later it got worse when Poppies made it two nil with yet another good finish. A nightmare start and the prospect of a long afternoon in store but slowly we remembered our pre-match team talk and started to get a grip in the centre of the park, and compete with our opponents. When we did this we also started to create chances, Dan Quirke hit the top of the bar, Louis Irwin shot straight at the keeper, and Sam Watts and Henry Lawrence-Napier also had opportunities from set pieces. Just as it looked like it wasn’t going to be our day JAKE COOMBES met a cross field ball in the box and coolly rolled the ball into the back of the net a couple of minutes before half time. 2-1 down at the break and well in the game now was a massive bonus after our poor start.
Jack Raeburn came off injured at half time which allowed Luke Jackson to make his first appearance for 12 weeks following injury. We kept our concentration and shape at the start of the second half and carried on where we had left off but although we were still creating chances and controlling the game we couldn’t find the equalising goal. Chances came and went for Louis Irwin, Max Rowswell, Dan Quirke and Sam Smith amongst others. James Prendergast was introduced for a tiring Jake Coombes with 30 minutes to go and almost provided us with the equaliser. As we began to tire Poppies came back into the game for the final 15 minutes and threatened to pinch a third goal but a mixture of good defending and poor finishing meant the scores stayed the same. Just as the game headed towards the 90th minute a long punt upfield from Luke Silcox towards Sam Watts caused chaos in the Poppies box which resulted in the ref pointing to the penalty spot for a push. SAM SMITH stepped up and slotted to give us a valuable and well deserved point.
Apart from the first 20 minutes we controlled the game it was a shame we gave them a head start. We are getting stronger every time we play and are now showing great spirit on the pitch. A special mention for Max Rowswell who after a poor start gave everything for the cause. It turned out to be a great team performance and we now move onto another tough trip to Hamworthy next week.
Westland Sports line up: L Silcox, J Ireland, S Watts, J Raeburn, H Lawrence-Napier, M Rowswell, G Russell, S Smith, L Irwin, J Coombes, D Quirke. Subs: L Jackson, J Prendergast.
Sunday 9th February 2014, Dorset Youth League (U18) Div.1
WESTLAND SPORTS 5 HAMWORTHY UTD 2
Amazingly the pitch passed an inspection and the game went ahead. Even more amazingly the whole starting 11 from the previous week was available for selection, a first for this season, and with Jack Raeburn and Connor Linham back we went into the fixture with a strong squad. We obviously hoped that Cian Cabell would hang around a little longer than the previous week and made only one change to the starting line up, Connor coming into the left hand side instead of James Prendergast, and unusually no new signings to announce. The pitch was in good condition, the sun was shining, but there was a really strong breeze blowing across the pitch.
Hamworthy have given us some tough and enjoyable games over the years and today proved to be no exception. They hadn’t played since before Christmas and we were hoping to gain a bit of a march on them but they came out fighting and probably shaded the start of the match. There were some opportunities at both ends early on but fortunately for us our opponents didn’t have their shooting boots on, however their keeper was on fire at the other end making some great saves. It looked like disaster had struck after 15 mins when Luke Silcox charged out and fouled the on-rushing striker. Fortunately for us the penalty was put wide. This seemed to take the wind out of Hamworthy’s sails and give us fresh impetus, we really started to get a grip in the centre of midfield and prevent them from going forward. Within 10 minutes we had taken the lead, a deep corner from Dan Quirke was met by the impressive SAM WATTS who powered a header into the roof of the net. We kept pressing forward and putting Hamworthy under pressure which was rewarded with two quick goals around the half hour mark. First DAN QUIRKE got in behind the defence and finished well across the keeper, which was quickly followed by CONNOR LINHAM firing a shot from the edge of the box which took a deflection past an unsighted keeper. Three nil up and cruising or so we thought, but as is expected with Hamworthy they never give up and they gave us something to think about just before half time when they broke away and scored an excellent goal. We were happy with 3-1 at half time having played into what was a very tricky wind.
The first 20 minutes of the second half was going to be critical and it was important we kept our concentration. As predicted Hamworthy, inspired by their half time team talk, came at us, but we stayed strong and well organised. Again our back three of Cian Cabell, Johnny Ireland and Sam Watts were outstanding and Henry Lawrence-Napier has really taken to the role of playing just in front of them to pick up the pieces. This gives us the platform to close teams down higher up the pitch which Connor Linham, Max Rowswell, George Russell and Sam Smith are doing really well. Up front we have the lightning pace of Dan Quirke and Jake Coombes who occupies the two centre halves allowing Dan to get at the full backs. Ten minutes into the half we killed the game off, a deep free kick to the far post was smartly finished by SAM SMITH's header for a well deserved goal. We introduced the fresh legs of James Prendergast and Jack Raeburn for Jake Coombes and Connor Linham and almost immediately were rewarded with a fifth goal when DAN QUIRKE used that pace to nip the ball past the keeper and roll it into an empty net for his second of the game. Five minutes before the end of the game Hamworthy broke through and made the score 5-2, and there was still time before the final whistle for Max Rowswell to crash an effort back off the post.
We carried on where we left off last week, the team ethic is really coming through and we are playing really well. We are now half way through a very tough month with two great results behind us. We have another tough game against Bournemouth Poppies this week and a result in that game puts us right in the mix. We again deserved all three points and are now clear in second position. Hopefully we will be all ready and available for this coming Sunday !!
Westland Sports Line up: L Silcox, S Watts, J Ireland, H Lawrence-Napier, C Cabell, C Linham, S Smith, G Russell, M Rowswell, D Quirke, J Coombs. Subs: J Raeburn, J Prendergast, L Jackson.
Sunday 2nd February 2014, Dorset Youth League (U18) Div.1
ROSSGARTH 2 WESTLAND SPORTS 4
Following a couple more blank weekends it was good to get a game, albeit the long trip to Rossgarth. Unlike our previous attempt to play this game when we arrived this time the pitch was playable and the game went ahead. Predictably we reverted to type and struggled to get together a squad. Credit to the lads that do turn out every week and many thanks to Duncan McCabe, yet another new signing, who stood in at the last minute to give us 12.
We shot out of the blocks at the start of the game and within 5 minutes were one up. Some great work down the left by Dan Quirke who delivered inch perfect to the far post for MAX ROWSWELL to side foot us in front. The trials of trying to get a team together in the morning suddenly evaporated and everything looked brighter, well for 5 minutes anyway until Cian Cabell won a free kick and then lashed out at his offender......red card ! One nil up, 80 minutes to go and down to 10 men, things not looking too bright. James Prendergast dropped back into the left side of defence and Dan Quirke came across to the left hand side of midfield where he continued to rip our opponents apart until half time. Fortunately the sending off seemed to disrupt the opposition more than us and we really got a grip of the game in the centre of the park. Sam Smith & George Russell had excellent games and skipper Henry Lawrence Napier was outstanding supporting both George and Sam and picking up all the pieces in front of the back three. After 20 minutes HENRY LAWRENCE-NAPIER even had time to pick up a loose ball on the edge of the box, jink around several opponents and despatch the ball into the net to put us two up and really have something to play for. Now it was all about shape, we stayed with a back three, kept Henry in front of them, four across midfield and Jake Coombes up front on his own. This worked really well for us and kept the score the same until half time, however there was time for Luke Silcox to pull off three or four super saves and an outstanding double save. Half-time 2-0 to Westlands.
The first 20 minutes of the second half was going to be critical, if we could keep them out we knew there was something in the game for us. Our opponents had been given a similar message and started really quickly putting us under pressure. We made a small adjustment and put Dan Quirke up top and pulled Jake Coombes into midfield, it worked a treat. Sam Watts commanded the backline, well supported by his two lieutenants Johnny Ireland and James Prendergast. We were well organised and compact and before Rossgarth could inflict any damage on us Dan Quirke had shown his pace and was causing problems. 10 minutes into the half he chased a long ball down putting the defender under so much pressure that he headed it over his keeper and into the net to make it 3-0 (OG). We were still controlling the game but from the touchline could see the legs beginning to tire. James Prendergast was replaced by Duncan McCabe as Rossgarth were coming more and more into the game and beginning to stretch us gaining free kicks in dangerous areas. Between Sam Watts, Henry Lawrence-Napier and Luke Silcox we dealt with everything that was thrown into the box. At the other end we were still getting opportunities and with just under 20 minutes to go DAN QUIRKE sealed a fine return to the team by firing in the fourth. The wheels did come off the wagon in the last 10 minutes when we conceded a couple of late goals to take the shine off things but I think that was more a case of us looking for more goals and getting a bit out of shape. We had done the hard work in the first 70 minutes.
For the first time this season we showed not only our quality but some fantastic commitment on the pitch. The type of commitment that our beloved team-mate Callum Denman showed every week. We played as a team and deserved all three points. We are now right in this league with every chance. There is still a long way to go and lots of games to play, we will need all of our players........why would you not want to be part of it ?
Westland Sports Line up: L Silcox, S Watts, J Ireland, H lawrence-Napier, C Cabell, J Prendergast, S Smith, G Russell, M Rowswell, D Quirke, J Coombs. Subs: D McCabe, L Jackson
Sunday 12th January 2014, Dorset Youth League (U18) Div.1
WESTLAND SPORTS 2 SHERBORNE TOWN 2
Bearing in mind today's opposition it was no surprise that we had to leave people out of the squad this week, hopefully this will be the major issue for the rest of the season. No new signings but we were able to welcome George Russell back who has been given permission by his parent club to play a few games to help regain his match fitness after injury. On the down side we lost Aaron White to injury. The pitch was in surprisingly good condition considering the recent weather and played really well.
We started the first half against the wind and struggled to get control of the ball. We looked like a side who hadn’t played for a while, but to be fair we didn’t allow Sherborne to settle either. We slowly got used to each other and started to put some passing together and gain some control of the game. Things were beginning to look good until a long punt down the middle was misjudged and the attacker was allowed to run on and lift the ball over the keeper and into the net. Not the start we were hoping for but we kept plugging away and created chances of our own. Several fell to Louis on his left side but he couldn’t quite find the finish, Jake Coombs and Max Rowswell also had efforts that came to nothing. Out on the left Cian Cabell and Connor Linham showed some good link up play and from one of these Connor jinked inside the centre half and was cut down in the box. SAM SMITH stepped up and despatched the penalty to bring the scores all square. The remainder of the half saw us create more half chances without getting the clear cut opening, George and Sam picking up all the pieces in midfield. Sherborne were always dangerous on the break, particularly from the resulting corners.
A good first half saw us finish 1-1, and both sides struggling to get control of the game but with the elements in our favour we now wanted to push for the three points.
The game followed the same pattern as the first half without either side really getting control. We again looked the more likely to break through but just couldn’t quite create a clear cut opening. The heavy ground and Christmas Pud started to take its toll and just before the hour Jake Coombes was replaced by James Prendergast which didn’t have the desired effect as it was the opposition who broke away and scored a second goal. We picked ourselves up and pushed back again and for the first time in the game took control. We played the game higher up the pitch and started to stretch the opponents defence and started to get into the box. 15 minutes from the end MAX ROWSWELL had a couple of goes and eventually forced the ball into the net to cap a fine performance and get us back to 2-2. Luke Silcox then replaced a very tired Max and we pushed right up until the end for the winner but couldn’t quite get there. Sherborne still had a threat on the break and Sam Watts came flying out of his box to make a cracking clearance from another long punt to save our point.
Not a great game by any standards but a fantastic battling performance. The team performance was excellent and the game was entertaining. A shame we couldn’t pinch all three points but there is still along way to go, lets just hope we don’t revert to struggling to get a team in the coming weeks !
Westland Sports Line up: S Watts, J Ireland, J Raeburn, H Lawrence-Napier, C Cabell, C Linham, S Smith, G Russell, M Rowswell, L Irwin, J Coombs. Subs: L Silcox, J Prendergast, L Jackson
Sunday 15th December, Dorset Youth League (U18) Div.1
WESTLAND SPORTS 4 PORTLAND TOWN 2
Following last Sundays vow of commitment from the squad we only (!) had to make 7 changes to get a side out this week !! Two more new signings, Johnny Ireland and Connor Linham made their debuts. Having got together 12 bodies we were determined to play the game even though the weather conditions were awful. The pitch passed an 11 o’clock inspection and the game went ahead.
Considering all of the changes we started the game well and quickly took control of proceedings. We were playing into the wind and driving rain in the first half but kept the ball on the ground and passed it around much better than we have been doing of late. Within 5 minutes we were awarded what looked like a lucky penalty, a dream start ! Up stepped Jake Coombs only to be thwarted by the outstretched leg of the keeper. The game settled down into a more even pattern with both teams trying to play football on a treacherous pitch. Portland never really got to grips with the wind and over hit a lot of balls through to Sports keeper Luke Silcox but when we had to defend, we were excellent particularly Aaron White and Sam Watts in the centre of defence. CONNOR LINHAM was proving a good addition to the team constantly providing a threat from the left hand side. He had a couple of sighters but after half an hour he gave us a deserved lead by hammering in from 30 yards following a good jinking run. Opportunities also fell to Jake Coombs, Louis Irwin and Sam Smith but we couldn’t add to the score before half time.
A great first half, well in control, the key now was to concentrate and be patient as with the elements in our favour we were now favourites for the three points.
As quite often happens we thought we had done the hard work and seemed to ease off at the start of the second half allowing our opponents into the game, but following some encouragement from the sidelines we soon picked up the pace again and just before the hour mark LOUIS IRWIN was put through and brought down in the box by the keeper, another penalty. No messing this time Louis picked himself up and coolly slotted to make it 2 nil. The impressive Jack Vine came off with a knee injury and was replaced by James Prendergast. We felt the game was ours now but again we started switching off and losing our shape, which forced us to defend in our own box eventually conceding a dubious penalty. This was comfortably despatched to make it game on. Several minutes later it was all square, we once again turned our own corner into a breakaway goal for the opposition. Fair play to the Westland boys they recovered their composure, rolled their sleeves up and took the game back to the opposition and on 70 minutes Johnny Ireland worked the ball down the right and CONNOR LINHAM met the far post cross with a diving header to notch his second goal. More drama was to follow when Sam Smith picked up a shoulder injury and had to leave the field leaving us to play the final 15 minutes with 10 men. We did this fairly comfortably with only the odd threat. With a couple of minutes to go Portland won a corner, Luke Silcox caught the ball cleanly and released Johnny Ireland down the left. Johnny cleverly got to the byline and pulled the ball back for JAKE COOMBES to score the fourth goal and finally kill the game off.
Another 3 points and we move up to 3rd in the league. The team performance was excellent and considering the conditions the game was really entertaining. My only comment is with us in such a great position why week after week do we struggle to get a team !!
Westland Sports Line up: L Silcox; F Vass, S Watts, A White, C Loveday; S Smith, J Vine, J Ireland, C Linham; L Irwin, J Coombs. Sub: J Prendergast
Sunday 8th December, Dorset Youth League (U18) Div.1
CORFE MULLEN UTD 0 WESTLAND SPORTS 3
Going into Sunday we had a magnificent squad of 13 but a late withdrawal brought us back down to 12. Two new signings, Rhodri Hopkins and James Prendergast (Prendy), along with Breaden Symes made their debuts. So once again we could only field a team by signing two more players on the day. With all of the changes we still had enough quality within the team to expect a positive result.
We started the game well and certainly quickly got a good foothold in the game. We looked fairly safe all over the pitch, our only real issue again was letting the through ball bounce. One day we will learn it is much better to deal with the threat further up the field. The new faces settled into midfield and we started to create half chances but nothing clear cut. Some great corners flashed across the box but no one was looking like getting on the end of them. It was evident from the touchline that a couple of quick goals could kill the game off. The surface wasn’t great and we couldn’t move the ball quickly enough to really get at Corfe. Mid way through the half Dan Quirke cut across the defender into the box and was felled just as he was about to shoot, penalty ! Up stepped CIAN CABELL and smashed it home, 1 nil. Maybe this would spark us but no the game turned into a low quality affair, which we did remain in control of until the break. The game was just asking for some quick, quality passing that would almost certainly have opened up the opposition. On the plus side Rhodri and Prendy showed some good stuff out wide and with a bit of luck we could have pinched a goal
The second half started much the same with us well in control but not seemingly wanting to kill the game off. Slowly Corfe sensed they could get something out of the game and started pressing looking for the equaliser, which almost came when a 25 yarder crashed back off of Luke Silcox’s bar after 70 minutes. This woke us up and finally we started to get the ball down and play. Breaden Symes, who had a very effective game, started several moves going, one of which sent Dan Quirke away down the right, he picked out JAKE COOMBES who finished impressively from 10 yards. Two minutes later another Dan Quirke corner was turned in by HENRY LAWRENCE-NAPIER to complete the 3 nil scoreline. There was still time for Dan Quirke to be foiled a couple of times and the hard working Max Rowswell was unlucky with a determined prod that hit the keeper.
On the touchline we all agreed it was one of the poorest games we had watched all season but we bounced back well from the previous week and deservedly got our result. We will have to play with much more energy and quality if we want to achieve anything this season, but we have still only lost one game in the league and so anything is possible. Next week will be a test against Portland and we already know that four of the names below are unavailable. Have we got enough commitment from the players to get a team out, unfortunately that is a question only they can answer.
Westland Sports Line up: L Silcox, J Prendergast, J Raeburn, C Cabell, B Symes, S Smith, H L-Napier, D Quirke, M Rowswell, R Hopkins, J Coombs. Sub: L Irwin.
Sunday 1st December, Dorset FA Youth Cup (U18) Qtr-Final
WESTLAND SPORTS 1 BLANDFORD UTD 5
Another struggle to fill up the team but we eventually managed to scramble together 12 but had to play with too many carrying injuries. Credit goes to the 12 that made the commitment.
We started really well and had no idea of what was to come during the game. We played with plenty of energy and dominated the first 20 minutes. Chances fell to Max Rowswell, Dan Quirke and Sam Smith as well as Louis Irwin who also hit the woodwork but we weren’t clinical enough to make the break through. Jake Coombs played several great through balls playing out of position at left back, but overall our general passing was poor. Out of the blue approaching 30 minutes Blandford mounted their first series of attacks and somehow managed to get a man free at the far post to tuck away the first goal. 10 minutes later it was 2, a long through ball wasn’t dealt with and the forward ran through and slotted well past Luke Silcox. We kept plugging away and right on half time made it 2-1 when HENRY LAWRENCE-NAPIER nodded home from a Dan Quirke corner. Nothing much to say at half time we had played well but not converted our chances, but they had taken their two.
The second half started much the same with us pressing and looking for the equaliser. Max Rowswell was replaced with Ben Oliver early in the half as Max hadn’t recovered from a knock picked up in the first half. Almost immediately Ben turned on the edge of the box and hit a shot against the post. Chances fell to various people but we couldn’t get that elusive goal. 70 minutes gone and we were hit with the sucker punch another long clearance straight through and 3-1. This was quickly followed by a fourth which stemmed from a free kick awarded for an alleged back pass which started to cause some frustration. This boiled over just before the end when we were denied a penalty at one end only to concede a fifth from yet another long punt.
A 5-1 defeat at the finish but not that much difference in the teams on the day, no matter what frustrations we feel from the refereeing decisions we must learn to bottle it up and get on with the game. We move onto next week with an away trip to bottom of the league Corfe Mullen with I suspect another battle to field a team. In our current predicament a win is certainly not a guarantee and I am sure the December committee meeting will be interesting with regard the future of keeping this team alive !! Now is the time to stand up, commit yourselves and show the club that you want to represent it. There are a few more weeks to go yet before we will return to a settled line up where we can play in our favoured positions.
Westland Sports Line up: L Silcox, S Watts, J Raeburn, A White, C Loveday, S Smith, H Lawrence-Napier, D Quirke, M Rowswell, L Irwin, J Coombs. Sub: B Oliver
Sunday 24th November, Dorset Youth League (U18) Div.1
WIMBORNE TOWN 1 WESTLAND SPORTS 1
Following last weeks cancellation due to a lack of willing available players, we eventually managed to fulfil the fixture at Wimborne by signing on three players on the day of the game. Thanks go to Jack Vine, Jake Coombs and Frankie Vass, who we picked up from Marston Magna on our journey to Wimborne, for making the commitment. Sunday also saw the return of Calum Loveday from injury to make his first start of the season. We arrived at the pitch with a bare 11 albeit an 11 that had enough quality to get a result.
The pitch wasn’t great and a bit on the small side but we started reasonably well even though we had all only met 30 minutes before kick off. The game started slowly which was good for us. Sam Smith and Jack Vine soon got control of the midfield and we looked well in control of proceedings. Our new back four of Calum Loveday, Jack Raeburn, Sam Watts and Frankie Vass never looked in any real trouble and dealt comfortably with any threats. Aaron White had the opportunity to play further forward on the right and Ben Oliver had his first start on the left, with Louis Irwin and Jake Coombs working hard up front we looked like a team capable of winning but lacking a bit in belief. We created several good opportunities down the right from Aaron White but couldn’t get anything to drop for us in the box. We just missed that little bit of quality and belief to force home our advantage until 10 minutes before half time when we had a slice of luck. Between Louis Irwin, Jack Vine and Ben Oliver the ball worked its way down the left and was whipped across the box where Jake Coombes caused total confusion resulting in the defender pushing the ball into his own net for an OG. The game was there for the taking but we couldn’t quite turn the screw and take advantage and Wimborne were always dangerous on the break, causing man of the match Jack Vine to lunge in on one occasion and pick up a yellow card. However we were more than happy to take 1 nil at half time.
Aaron White informed us that he was struggling with a groin injury during the break which forced a reshuffle and it was much credit to his desire and commitment that he completed 90 minutes barely able to walk. The first 20 minutes of the second half became very even no chances either end to speak of. Wimborne then started to push extra players on putting us under considerable pressure, however that created space for us allowing Louis Irwin and Sam Smith to escape several times setting up Jake Coombes and Ben Oliver to have attempts on target but we couldn’t find that second killer goal. We dealt with the pressure well and were undone by a soft penalty 10 minutes from the end following a collision of bodies in the box. Luke Silcox got a hand to the penalty but couldn’t keep it out. Surprisingly they didn’t go for the win and it was us that had the better opportunities to win the game having one cleared off the line and a Sam Smith drive pinging off the top of the bar. However it was not to be and we had to be happy with a point. True we would have taken that at the start but on reflection it was 2 points dropped. Huge credit must go to the eleven lads that committed themselves to the game, they gave everything and were desperately unlucky not to gain a victory.
We have an extremely talented squad of players, the only reason they will not feature in the both the league and cup competitions is their lack of commitment and desire. Something is wrong if I have to send out 250 texts every week to get 11 players on the field. Next week is the Quarter Final of the County cup, lets hope it isn’t a walk over to Blandford.
Westland Sports Line up: L Silcox, S Watts, J Raeburn, A White, F Vass, C Loveday, S Smith, J Vine, B Oliver, L Irwin, J Coombs. Subs: None
Sunday 10th November, Dorset Youth League (U18) Div.1
WESTLAND SPORTS 3 PARLEY SPORTS 0
Although we had achieved a 3–1 victory a month ago down at Parley they are always a well organised team so we expected a tight game and we weren’t disappointed. Matt Buse was unavailable so Louis Irwin came back into the squad as the only change.
Again considering the rain the pitch was in good condition and we got at our opponents right from the start. Within a minute we had won a penalty, George Russell stepped up only for the keeper to bring off a fine double save. For the next 10 minutes it was one way traffic and we created enough chances to have finished the game off, but as with previous weeks we lacked composure in front of goal and a clinical finish. However the football was good throughout midfield and up front, with Dan Quirke and Max Rowswell providing a constant threat. As with all our previous games once the initial 15 minutes have passed we seem to allow our opponents back into the game, and Parley started to play in our half. Fortunately we managed to control their forwards quite will and kept them down to a few half chances. It has to be said our back three of Aaron White, Jack Raeburn and Sam Watts have been exceptional all season.
Midway through the half a nice passage of play down the right involving Sam Smith and Callum Thompson allowed George to cross to the far post where CIAN CABELL, who had an excellent game, finished with a diving header. For the rest of the half we pushed for the second goal but despite numerous chances for Dan Quirke, Max Rowswell, George Russell, Callum Thompson and Sam Smith we couldn’t take advantage. Credit should go to Parley for their defending, it was not all poor finishing. One nil at half time in a game we should have put to bed, but no need to panic. Concentration at the back required and a clean sheet would see us with the 3 points.
The second half started much the same as the first but we still weren’t making best use of the flanks and getting bogged down in midfield. More chances came and went Louis Irwin replaced Max Rowswell 10 minutes into the half and almost immediately Jack Raeburn injured a shoulder and we had to reshuffle again. Ben Oliver replaced him and went up front, with the versatile Louis Irwin dropping into the midfield holding role and Luke Jackson filling in at sweeper. Fortunately this change didn’t cause us any defensive problems at all and within 5 minutes we had our second goal. A cracking ball was fired in from Cian Cabell on the left and the Parley keeper made his only error of the game when he palmed the ball straight onto BEN OLIVER's head and into the net... a great first goal for Ben and one we really needed. This took the wind out of Parley’s sails and we controlled the final 20 minutes of the game creating even more chances although none were taken until DAN QUIRKE rifled in a cracking volley off yet another Cian Cabell cross to complete a 3-0 final score.
Another good team performance, 3 points and more importantly a clean sheet. It would be nice if we could repeat that next week against Hamworthy Utd who have so far won every game. Another tough game for us and we will have to be at our best if we want to win, we will certainly need to take more of the opportunities that we are creating. Thanks to Andy Smith for running the line.
Westlands Line up: L Silcox; S Watts, J Raeburn, A White; C Cabell, S Smith, G Russell, L Jackson, C Thompson; D Quirke, M Rowswell. Subs: L Irwin, B Oliver
Sunday 3rd November, Dorset FA Youth Cup, 2nd Rnd
WESTLAND SPORTS 3 WIMBORNE TOWN 2
We welcomed our opponents, who play in the Hampshire U18 league, to a breezy Alvington for what we expected to be a very tight contest and we weren’t disappointed. Only a couple of changes this week Henry Lawrence-Napier dropped out of the squad with work commitments and was replaced by Sol Carney. Sam Watts started in goal for the first time and Luke Silcox dropped to the bench, as we tried to keep everyone’s game time up.
Considering the rain the pitch was in good condition and right from the start we played with good energy and plenty of neat passing football troubling our opponents from the start. The right side of our team clicked straight away and within 5 minutes DAN QUIRKE got away from the defence and slotted coolly into the net to put us one up, this followed some good play from Matt Buse and Sam Smith to release him. A great start which really settled us down and allowed us to dominate for the next 10 minutes, but slowly Wimborne started to work their way back into the game. The game started to take shape where we passed the ball well until the last third, all too often Wimborne would break up the attack and hit us quickly on the break giving our defence a tough time.
Both sides created opportunities but none were taken until the 30 minute mark when a Wimborne attacker was brought down in the box following a tangle of legs with Aaron White. The penalty was despatched and we were back all square, the game could have gone either way. Both teams battled to get control Sol Carney drifted out to the left and Callum Thompson supported the improving Dan Quirke down the middle, but we couldn’t quite get the break until the last minute of the half. Dan battled well to hold up a long Sam Watts clearance, layed it off to Sol, who moved through Callum and George Russell to SAM SMITH who capped a cracking first half by firing into the top of the net. 2 – 1 up at the break, I’m biased but I felt we just about deserved the lead !
The second half started much the same although we played a little higher up the field with a greater tempo, and 10 minutes in it looked like we would be able to go on and win comfortably. Again we created openings but couldn’t apply the finish or wouldn’t take the shot when offered. Our enthusiasm to get the third goal led to our downfall, just before the hour Wimborne broke away down our right where we had over committed, squared the ball across the six yard box for the attacker to finish.....2-2 game on!
Back up the other end we were back in front within 5 minutes, again good work down the left, quick sharp passing and SOL CARNEY stumbled through the centre of the defence to finish from 10 yards for what turned out to be the winner. Shortly after Sol was replaced by Max Rowswell who then took his turn to carry the fight to the opposition down the left flank. We could and probably should have pinched another goal or two in the remaining 25 minutes, but having said that Wimborne had their opportunities as well but the back four stood firm and there were some meaty challenges in the centre of the park that had to be made to protect our lead.
We are now successfully into the 3rd round and another good team performance behind us. Commitment to Sundays now appears to be good, although a few more turning up for training would help us improve further. Apologies to the two subs that didn’t get on this week, but thanks for your support. Next week we will hopefully have Louis Irwin and Henry Lawrence-Napier available so competition for places will be tough.
Westland Sports Line up: S Watts, M Buse, J Raeburn, A White, C Cabell; S Smith, G Russell, S Carney, L Jackson, C Thompson; D Quirke; Subs: M Rowswell, B Oliver, L Silcox.
Sunday 27th October, Dorset Youth League (U18) Div.1
SHAFTESBURY 1 WESTLAND SPORTS 7
Following last weeks disappointing late cancellation after we had arrived at Rossgarth we headed to Shaftesbury hoping to get a game on, despite all of the recent wet weather. The pitch was heavy but perfectly playable and we started the game kicking up the slope and into the wind. Unfortunately we didn’t have Sam Watts, Sol Carney or Louis Irwin with us but Max Rowswell, Dan Quirke and Cian Cabell were back which shows our current strength in depth.
It didn’t take us long to get into our passing game and we very quickly started to dominate the possession although it took us a while to start creating clear chances. Callum Thompson and Matt Buse out on the flanks soon started to cause problems delivering balls across the face of the box. From the resultant corners Cian Cabell came up with several dangerous deliveries causing havoc in the penalty area, and on 15 minutes this was to pay off. The ball bobbled around the box and a combination of two defenders turned the ball into their own net under pressure from Dan Quirke for an OG. Five minutes later it was two, a great ball into DAN QUIRKE from Callum saw him turn and thump a great shot past the keeper. We continued to dominate the half peppering our opponents goal with long range efforts from George Russell, Luke Jackson and Sam Smith, as well as creating more chances in the box for Dan Quirke, Callum Thompson, Matt Buse, Cian Cabell and Henry Lawrence-Napier……but no more goals were coming. Just before half time on a rare attack Shaftesbury were awarded a free kick that Luke Silcox could only help onto the post and the striker followed up to put them right back into the game. So we went into the break 2-1 up having dominated the game.
We kept our concentration and shape at the start of the second half and carried on where we had left off so it was no surprise when DAN QUIRKE gave us back our two goal cushion with another clinical finish and it would have been no surprise if he had sealed his hatrick, but his lob came back off the post. Max Rowswell and Ben Oliver were introduced, in place of Dan Quirke and Matt Buse and it didn’t take MAX ROWSWELL long to notch a goal for himself with a good finish. A couple of minutes later another predatory strike gave MAX ROWSWELL his second. Sam Smith thought he had got on the score sheet but it was ruled out for offside. We were still struggling with our long range shooting until GEORGE RUSSELL stepped up and drilled one in from the edge of the box. There was just time for LUKE JACKSON to arrive late in the box and score from 10 yards to cap a very disciplined performance playing the holding role.
Although we dominated from start to finish we again showed great discipline at the back snuffing out any threat. Jack Raeburn and Aaron White didn’t miss a thing, and fullbacks Henry Lawrence-Napier and Cian Cabell defended well and had a hand in all the good things we did going forward. It was a great team performance we now move onto a cup game against Wimborne next week.
Westland Sports line up: L Silcox; H Lawrence-Napier, A White, J Raeburn, C Cabell; C Thompson, G Russell, S Smith, L Jackson, M Buse; D Quirke. Subs: M Rowswell, B Oliver.
Sunday 13th October 2013, Dorset Youth League (U18) Div.1
PARLEY SPORTS 1 WESTLAND SPORTS 3
We travelled to an extremely wet Parley with a bare squad of 12 following a late lunchtime withdrawal and a number of injuries and unavailabilities. Following on from the good draw we had in mid week at Chard we were hoping to make up for lost time and pick up 3 points.
Considering the rain the pitch was in good condition and allowed us to slip into a slick passing game that troubled our opponents from the start. The team had a good shape about it, but for all our possession we found it difficult to break Parley down and get clear opportunities on goal. The midfield of George Russell, Callum Thompson, Luke Jackson, Henry Lawrence Napier and Sam Smith began to get good control of the ball and worked really well as a unit. Callum was particularly impressive throughout the game for his first full appearance and looks set for a good season. Max Rowswell and Louis Irwin had frustrating afternoons, full of endeavour, but with neither really getting a good opportunity to open the scoring. For all our control Parley still had the odd foray into our half where they demonstrated that they had the ability to hurt us but our impressive defence of Sam Watts, Aaron White and Jack Raeburn, backed up by keeper Luke Silcox managed to calmly deal with the danger.
After a few long range shots and a lot of offsides we eventually turned our pressure into the opening goal after 30 minutes when the ball was rolled into GEORGE RUSSELL on the right hand edge of the box and he curled it over the keeper, Gerrard style, into the far corner of the net. It was a long time coming but worth the wait!! This settled us down and we had several more half chances before the interval but couldn’t capitalise. Just before the break we also had to survive a goal mouth scramble. A good first half performance we just needed to maintain our discipline and turn our opponents around a bit more, I felt we played lots of nice football in the first half but it was all in front of our opponents.
We took this onboard and we were excellent in the second half, the movement was good, the passing simple and the quality high. Callum Thompson and Henry Lawrence-Napier were particularly impressive in the wide areas, with Sam Smith and George Russell dominating the centre of the park. Ben Oliver was introduced on the hour to bring some fresh legs on upfront and we scored our second goal almost immediately. Callum Thompson played the ball of the day through to GEORGE RUSSELL who coolly rolled the ball past the keeper for his second goal of the match. This lifted everyone and we stepped up to another level with chances falling to Ben Oliver, Sam Smith, Henry Lawrence-Napier, Louis Irwin and a 30 yarder from Luke Jackson, all of which were saved by the impressive Parley keeper. We eventually scored a third when Sam Smith burst into the area and pulled the ball back for Henry Lawrence-Napier to shoot from the edge of the box. The ball was goal bound but Sniffer LOUIS IRWIN got a touch on the way in to claim it. We slackened off a bit for the last 10 minutes with the heavy conditions not surprisingly taking their toll and Parley were able to score with a well taken free kick from the edge of the box just before the end of the game.
Anytime you bring 3 points away from Parley it is a pleasing result, but today’s performance in the torrential rain was a credit to the 12 boys who made the effort. They played some good stuff, worked hard for each other and looked like they enjoyed it. We have the makings of a good side and with a bit more commitment from a few others we will have a very formidable squad. We still have some work to do upfront to create better openings but if the team is available it is going to be difficult for others to force their way in.
Westland Sports line up: L Silcox; S Watts, A White, J Raeburn, H Lawrence-Napier; C Thompson, G Russell, S Smith, L Jackson, L Irwin; M Rowswell. Subs: B Oliver
Sunday 29th September 2013, Dorset Youth League (U18) Div.1
SHERBORNE TOWN 2 WESTLAND SPORTS 1
There were a few changes from the previous week for this local derby which meant an opportunity for Henry Lawrence-Napier and Sam Smith to start with Callum Thompson and Matt Buse coming onto the bench.
It was again a fitting testimony to Callum Denman's popularity that Sherborne insisted on a minutes silence before the game to allow their players, management and supporters to pay their respects.
The weather was good and the pitch was in excellent condition as we kicked off expecting a keenly contested match, and we weren’t disappointed. The game started quickly and was played throughout at a fast pace. Sherborne took the initiative and penned us back into our half for the first 10 minutes, but we coped without too many scares. As we got the ball down and started to pass the ball around we started to get some control without really creating anything. Both sides lacked quality delivery from the wide areas, until Cian Cabell curled in a fantastic free kick mid way through the half and the impressive SAM WATTS thumped his header into the net. For the rest of the half we were well in control and had a slight edge all over the park. We created several reasonable chances but couldn’t quite take advantage and were grateful to a fine stop from Luke Silcox to keep us in front at half time.
The back three of Aaron White, Luke Jackson and man of the match Sam Watts gave us a good firm platform throughout the game and we should have killed the game off with before the hour with good chances falling to Max Rowswell and Dan Quirke amongst others. Cian Cabell and George Russell were involved in everything good that was created. Callum Thomson came on and also had several great chances well saved by the keeper in a period of the game where we knocked the ball around well. Disaster struck with 20 mins to go as we started to tire when we gave away a free kick on the right. We couldn’t clear the ball and it was scrambled into the net for the equaliser. 10 minutes later we found ourselves behind, a great ball in from the Sherborne right and unfortunately Sam Watts could only divert it into his own net. Although very tired we battled away to the end and created a couple more chances but couldn’t find an equaliser, which was the least we deserved.
Westland Sports line up: L Silcox; S Watts, A White, H Lawrence-Napier, C Cabell; S Beard, G Russell, S Smith, L Jackson, L Irwin; M Rowswell. Subs: M Buse, D Quirke, C Thompson
Sunday 22nd September 2013, Dorset Youth League (U18) Div.1
WESTLAND SPORTS 7 SHAFTESBURY TOWN 0
As we all know our pre-season has been decimated with the tragic loss of Callum Denman and the injuries sustained by James Hall in a motoring accident at the end of August. I know it has been said before but all our thoughts are with the two families and in particular with Pat, Julie and the Denman family. Callum was a fantastic, fun loving lad who was a credit to his parents and he will be sadly missed by all his friends and team mates at Westland Sports FC. He lived for and loved his football and today is our chance to pay our respects to him and his family. The highs and lows of this season are dedicated to the memory of Callum, RIP, you will never be forgotten.
We lined up for the minutes silence before the match with a few new faces in the squad. We welcome Macauley Cain, Max Rowswell, Seamus Beard, Aaron White, Jack Raeburn, George Russell and Ben Oliver to the club along with a few others who will be introduced over the next few games.....oh and it was great to see our Manager Pat sat in the dugout for the first 30 minutes.
The pitch is not at its best at the moment and did not help us get into any fluid passing football at the start of the game, we did however look energetic and full of purpose. MAX ROWSWELL got us off to flyer on his debut when after only 5 minutes he latched onto a lobbed through ball from Luke Jackson and coolly despatched past the keeper. Just what we needed to help settle the nerves however we didn’t really go on and capitalise. Shaftesbury’s pace upfront always caused us problems in the first half as did the bomb of a long throw from the centre half. The back four of Aaron White, Sam Watts, Jack Raeburn and Cian Cabell dealt with it all and as the game went on looked a very formidable unit. Luke Silcox had little to do in goal but when called upon made several good stops.
As the half went on the game developed into a bit of a stalemate until 5 minutes before half time when a defensive mix up gave LOUIS IRWIN the chance to poke home the second. Our central midfield of Luke Jackson and George Russell with Macca Cain and Seamus Beard out wide were gradually getting control.
At half time we asked for concentration and a clean sheet and in the second half we got both, with 45 minutes under our belt our movement and passing improved, and we got better and better. Dan Quirke and Ben Oliver were introduced on the hour. Dan’s pace is awesome, and within 5 minutes Ben put Max Rowswell away, who rolled DAN QUIRKE in to finish confidently passed the keeper. 10 minutes later LOUIS IRWIN added his second finishing a far post cross from Cian Cabell. Louis then put DAN QUIRKE through for number five, pure pace again. LOUIS IRWIN completed his hat-trick a couple of minutes later from the penalty spot. Finally, GEORGE RUSSELL capped a fine display by driving in a cracking seventh from 20 yards in the last minute.
Westland Sports line up: L Silcox; S Watts, A White, J Raeburn, C Cabell; S Beard, G Russell, S Smith, L Jackson, M Cain; M Rowswell. Subs: B Oliver, D Quirke