Last game of the season, could we finish on a high note with our seventh win in a row ? The squad was stretched and the manager took the opportunity to blood four youth team players with Tom Hinder starting in goal, Sam Carney in the midfield and Max Harrington and Matt Jackson on the bench. Rich Parkinson was also a starter and keeper Ashley Knibbs was on the bench following his absence with a broken thumb. The match was quite even in the first half with Sports having more possession but Chickerell looking dangerous at times on the break. In the 40th minute one of these breaks saw Chickerell take the lead.Their forward ran on to a nice through ball and slotted the ball into the corner of the net. Although 1-0 down at half-time Sports had given a good account ofthemselves and there was a long way to go.
After the break Sports took the game by the scruff of the neck and were totally dominant. Chance after chance was made and missed before in the 55th minute we got the equaliser. Jack Williams made good progress down the right and his cross was knocked in by Matt Day from 6 yards out. Sports continued to dominate but Chickerell were always dangerous on the break and Tom Hinder made three tremendous saves to keep Sports in front at this point. Max Harrington had come on and was doing a great job down the right and Matt Jackson, who had replaced Rich Parkinson, had a great chance to cap his debut with a goal but shot just past the post. Ashley Knibbs then made a surprise entry from the bench coming on up front as Sports went all out for the winner. Just as we thought time was up and were rueing those missed chances Sports pressure paid off as we snatched the winner. We were awarded a free kick just inside the Chickerell half, Rich Lindegaard launched it into the box where Aaron Mead outjumped everyone, including Ash Knibbs, to head the winner. A wonderful finish to the match and the season and to finish with a run of seven wins in a row was a real credit to all the players who were playing three games in a week at times. All four youth lads who turned out today also showed the quality of the young players coming through and they were a credit to themselves and their youth coaches. Another season ends with Sports finishing a close third in the league only four points behind the champions thanks to our late run in the home straight. A good season and hopefully the foundations have been laid for an even better one next year.
With suspensions and injuries beginning to kick in, there were four changes from the side that beat Ham Rec and there were also some fresh faces on the bench to keep the regulars on their toes. It was a nice evening but the sun was low in the sky and was in the faces of the Sports players as the game kicked off. This was not helping us put our passes together and in the opening exchanges it was Bridport who looked lively and we found ourselves pushed back for the first ten minutes. Then, with 12 minutes on the clock, Sports scored in virtually our first attack. Taoufik Ben-Salem received a loose ball on the edge of the box and smashed it into the top corner giving the keeper no chance. Good start for Sports but for the rest of the half both sides huffed and puffed but neither keeper was seriously tested.
In the second half, with that troublesome sun no longer in their eyes, Sports upped the tempo a bit and the cracks began to show in the Bridport rearguard. Leo Hayward, who had come on just after the break for Taoufik Ben-Salem, won the ball on the left, drove to the byeline and squared the ball to Steve Lindegaard who smacked it into the roof of the net from close range. It didn’t take too long for Sports to add number three in the 65th minute. The Bridport keeper fumbled a shot and the ball fell at Matt Day’s feet for a gift which he knocked in. Another 10 minutes and it was 4-0 as Bridport began to get ragged. Leo Hayward went clean through and lobbed the keeper for a lovely goal, well executed. And finally, with 5 minutes remaining, Ant Herrin, who had come on for Matt Day, was hacked down in the box as he was about to shoot. Ant took the spot kick himself, sidefooting the ball confidently into the corner to complete a 5-0 victory for Sports. That’s six wins on the trot now, a fantastic finish to the season, one more match to go.
We came into this match on a good run of form having won our last four matches on the spin but obviously this would be a tough one, facing the league champions Hamworthy Recreation. Sports made four changes from the team that trounced Cobham with Tim Pearse, Ben Cochrane, Dan Call & Taoufik Ben-Salem being replaced by Ryan Peacock, Aaron Mead, Simon Baker and Jack Williams. It was a first team debut for 17 year old goalkeeper Ryan Peacock who has been putting in some impressive performances for the reserves and had earned his call up. Rec looked to have a strong line up too so a good game was in prospect.
Sports made the best possible start when we scored in the second minute. An inswinging corner from the right was headed goalwards by Aaron Mead, the keeper spilled it and Dean Corden was on the spot to score. The game then settled into a close contest with both teams trying to get the ball down and play football despite the hard pitch. In the twentieth minute young Ryan justified his selection by diving full length to tip a well struck free kick over the bar. Two minutes later Hamworthy were level. Sports had a free kick about 30 yards out, which Jack Williams belted straight at the wall. From the rebound Rec broke fast down the right, our keeper rushed out to try and gather the ball but was beaten to it by an attacker who centred for a team-mate to head into the empty net. A classic counter attack well executed but Sports heads didn’t go down and we were more than holding our own as the half time whistle approached. Then a lovely through ball put Jack Williams in the clear, as he charged into the box the keeper dived at his feet and brought him down. Looked a clear penalty from where I stood and the keeper was yellow carded. Mike Rousell knocked in the spot kick to give Sports a welcome half-time lead. One sad moment in the first half saw Sam Farthing fall heavily and dislocate his left shoulder. He was helped off to hospital in severe pain to be replaced by Steve Lindegaard.
The second half produced more good football in a tight match but it was noticeable that Sports were keeping Rec penned in their own half and gradually putting the pressure on. Nevertheless the knowledge of the damage our opponents could inflict on the break kept us on our toes and sure enough, in the 65th minute they got the equaliser. The ball was played into the Westlands box where a defender made a complete hash of his clearance. The ball broke to a Hamworthy attacker who buried it in the corner to make it 2-2. Sports pressed hard now and five minutes later got back in front. Jack Williams was barged in the back when about to shoot and the referee pointed to the spot. Mike Rousell stepped up again and stroked in the penalty to put us back in front at 3-2. At this point my mind went back to last season’s corresponding league game which had ended 3-3 and I wondered if history was going to repeat itself. I needn’t have worried, Sports were pretty well in control now and played out the match on the front foot keeping Hamworthy on the defensive. Young Ryan Peacock had an excellent debut and the whole side played well with a composure that has sometimes been missing recently. There wasn’t much at stake for either side but both teams wanted to win the match for their own pride and subsequently gave us a cracking match that was a good advert for the DPL. So, congratulations to Hamworthy on their second league title in a row, and well done to the Westlands lads for a good win.
For the fourth game in eight days, Sports had Aaron Mead, Simon Baker and Jack Williams all unavailable due to work commitments but we still had a strong looking squad with Dean Vincent and Taoufik Ben-Salem returning to the lineup. After our cup semi-final loss to Merley Cobham we owed them one and it didn’t take long for Sports to show they meant business. In the second minute Andy Smith took a quick free kick on the edge of the box and slid the ball down the outside of the wall to Sam Farthing. Sam drove it low and hard across goal and Mike Rousell finished the job at the far post. A smart, well worked goal and Sports were full of running and went hunting for more. It was constant Sports pressure now with the pace of our front men Mike Rousell and Taoufik Ben Salem causing the Cobham defence all sorts of problems. How they managed to hold out for another 30 minutes I’ll never know as they were being torn apart by a rampant Sports side. However, in the 32nd minute the inevitable second goal arrived. Andy Smith hit a low shot from 20 yards which the keeper appeared to gather but fumbled the ball over the line. Sports continued to press and 10 minutes later made it 3-0. Matt Day sent over an inswinging corner from the right and Taoufik Ben-Salem was unmarked and headed in from six yards. Three-nil at half-time was no more than Sports deserved and it could have been more. Merley Cobham were a shadow of the team who defeated us in the cup and surely they couldn’t play so badly in the second half. The answer to the question was no as Cobham came out with a bit more purpose, enjoying some spells of possession and pushing forward into Sports half. It was noticeable however that our hosts build up was more slow and deliberate and never really created any goalscoring chances whereas Westlands attacks were fast and furious and we were still giving the Cobham defence a hard time. With 10 minutes to go another Sports attack saw Danny Call sweep the ball into the net after the Cobham defence were caught flatfooted and with just three minutes left came the icing on the cake. A ball was played up to Taoufik Ben-Salem at the edge of the box and he headed it back to the onrushing Danny Call who smashed the ball into the top corner from 22 yards for the goal of the game. A 5-0 victory away from home is an excellent result and to be honest this was a game we were never going to lose. From the first minute Sports were playing at a higher tempo than their opponents and when we scored in the second minute it was all over really.
For their third game in six days, Sports only made one change from saturday’s line up for the visit of Wincanton Town in the Magna Dorset Premier League. Taoufik Ben Salem was relegated to the bench and was replaced up front by Mike Rousell in an otherwise unchanged 3-5-2 formation. Wincanton were on a tremendous run, unbeaten in 10 games, so we knew we were in for a tough game. As the match settled it was clear our opponents were not going to give us any time on the ball and with the pitch pretty hard it was proving difficult to string any passes together. Sports were pushing forwards and in 10 minutes a Mike Rousell shot hit the inside of the post and had the keeper scrambling along his line to gather the ball. Sports were struggling to create clear cut chances with Wincanton not troubled too much at the back and content to cause Sports defence problems on the occasional break. Wincanton’s secret weapon was soon prominent, a massive throw-in which even Rory Delap would struggle to match. It’s a potent weapon and caused Sports defence a few anxious moments. Come half time and both teams seemed fairly content with the draw in a tight game that could go either way at this stage. In the second half Sports began to up the pressure slowly but surely and Wincanton were finding it difficult to maintain any possession when they did win the ball. In the 53rd minute Sam Farthing scored the opening, and as it turned out, winning goal. A free kick from inside Sports half was taken by Rich Lindegaard and lofted into the visitor’s box where Sam back flicked a looping header which deceived the keeper and found the top corner of the net. With 20 minutes to go, Dan Call was replaced by Taoufik Ben Salem and ‘Benji’ quickly linked up with Mike Rousell to carve open the Wincanton defence but squandered the chance with one pass too many. In the 75th minute Benji did have the ball in the net following a flowing move from Sports but unfortunately he had strayed offside. In the 80th minute an Aaron Mead header from a Matt Day cross came off the bar but Sports were unable to score that second goal which would surely have clinched the points. In the last 5 minutes, Wincanton, sensing they could still get something out the game, made a last gasp effort to snatch an equaliser. A couple of scrambled clearances and a couple of good headers from huge throw-ins rebuffed their efforts and Sports held on for the win. A tough game this, no quarter given, but played in a good spirit by both sides, with Sports emerging as worthy winners in the end.
After a hard game on Thursday evening Sports made a couple of changes for the visit of Blandford United in the Magna Dorset Premier League. Ben Cochrane returned to a reshaped back three, Andy Smith came back after suspension, Simon Baker came in as right wing back and Dan Call joined Taoufik Ben-Salem up front in a 3-5-2 formation. Sports were looking a bit sluggish in the early stages and Blandford didn’t take long to take advantage. Sports failed to clear their lines and United’s burly centre forward stepped in to thump the ball into the far corner of the net to put us one down after six minutes. The rest of the first half was a bit of a stalemate really, with neither side able to create any good chances, and Blandford, with a lead to defend, working hard and Sports looking a bit off the pace. Then, just before half-time, we got the break we needed when Dean Corden was tripped in the box and Danny Call slotted in the resulting penalty. The general opinion at half time was that Sports had been a bit flat in the first half and needed to up their game in the second period. Whatever the manager said at half time worked as we looked a different side from the moment we kicked off in the second half. First to every ball now, Sports had Blandford under pressure and in the 48th minute Sam Farthing smashed a shot off the crossbar.
This was followed by Dan Call having one ruled out for offside as Sports continued to press. Eventually, on the hour mark, we went ahead with a lovely goal. Andy Smith put Matt Day in with a perfectly weighted pass, Matt raced in and his shot came off the far post to be met first time by Taoufik Ben Salem who drilled it in. The writing was on the wall for Blandford now and five minutes later it was 3-1 when a corner to the front post was bundled in by a combination of Dean Corden and Dan Call. Three minutes later it was 4-1. Another superb crossfield ball by Andy Smith was slotted in by Sam Farthing. The goals were coming thick and fast now. In the 75 minute substitute Jack Williams finished a good passing move off with a good shot, two minutes later Dean Corden smashed in number 6, and in the 80th minute, Steve Lindegaard, who had just joined the action, sidefooted in the seventh. During a 20 minute period in the second half Sports had scored six goals in an inspired spell of football. To be fair to Blandford, they kept their heads up and never threw in the towel, but the pressure was just too much and they couldn’t stem the tide. Overall, it all worked out for Sports in the end after a poor first half but credit to the lads for a scintillating second half performance.
A lovely evening for a local derby and a good crowd turned up to see the action in this Magna Dorset Premier League match. Sports made one change from saturday at Portland, Ben Cochrane was on the bench and Rich Lindegaard took his place in the centre of the defence. Sports started on the front foot and caught the Sherborne rearguard napping in the first minute. A long ball came down the centre of the park, and as the visitors hesitated Dean Corden burst through, rounded the keeper and planted the ball in the net. What a start, and if my memory is correct we did exactly the same thing in the corresponding fixture last season, so they should have seen it coming ! Sports were on top now with the visitors a bit shell shocked. Matt Day was giving them nightmares down the left wing and twice he hit the byeline but nobody could convert the crosses. Sports made several chances during this period but seemed to take that extra touch before shooting that allowed the defenders to get in a tackle. After 20 minutes it was noticeable that Sherborne were taking heart from Sports inability to get a second goal and they began to push forward and create a few chances of their own. This spell of pressure was rewarded in the 30th minute when a soft free kick was awarded by the linesman out on the right wing. The ball was whipped in and with two westlands defenders and the goalkeeper knocked to the ground, Nick Jacobs had an easy job to head in the equaliser. Being biased I thought one each at half time flattered the visitors a little but we had the second half to put things right.
Once again Sports caught their opponents cold in the second half. Mike Rousell was pushed in the box and the ref pointed to the spot. Mike took the kick himself and fired it in high up to the keeper's left. But, hang on, he's ordered it to be retaken for encroachment. This is an infringement that happens all the time but is very rarely punished so full marks to the official for having the guts to give it. Mike took the kick again and this time slotted it in low to the keeper's right, two well taken penalties, its never easy the second time. Sherborne weren't going to lie down and it was a fiercely contested match with neither team holding back. The referee was keeping a tight control on things but was a little harsh to send off two players, one from each side, within 5 minutes of each other. In the 55th minute Mike Rousell squared up to a Sherborne defender after being fouled and was red carded. Five minutes later Sherborne centre half Lee Clarke handled a through ball and was also sent packing for a second yellow card. What was a bit disappointing was to see players from both sides shouting at the referee to send off their opponents, very poor in my opinion. These dismissals seemed to upset the rhythm of the game a bit and with the tiredness creeping in, the pace of the match dropped off a bit. Sports attacks were always more dangerous, almost cutting through the visitors defence at will at times. Matt Day raced away three times but couldn't get an effort on target with just the keeper to beat, and similarly Taoufik Ben-Salem was clean through but delayed his shot too long and the keeper rushed out to save. Sherborne had a chance late on when a shot went over the bar, but Sports were pretty comfortable and played out time. For Westlands everyone played well, Matt Day was a constant thorn in Sherborne's side, Dean Corden and Sam Farthing were a constant threat, and Aaron Mead was a tower of strength at the back, never losing a header. A welcome three points for Sports as we keep the pressure on Portland for that third spot in the league table. A final mention for the three young officials who had a difficult job but handled it very well
Portland on a nice sunny spring day is a lovely place to be…..or is it ? A biting wind was blowing in from the sea and it was bitterly cold up on the bank. A match between the third and fourth teams in the DPL promised to be a well matched contest and so it proved. Sports had Andy Smith suspended and Rich Lindegaard unavailable so Lewis Morgan started in midfield in the only change from the loss at Weymouth. With the pitch fairly firm due to the dry weather both teams were getting the ball forward early with the hosts looking dangerous on several occasions but falling foul of the linesman’s offside flag. The deadlock was broken on the half hour mark when Sports were awarded a free kick on the edge of the box. Mike Rousell fired it hard and low and it seemed to go through the Portland wall before finishing in the corner of the net. A 1-0 half-time lead was a bit flattering to Sports but we weren’t complaining.
Ten minutes into the second half and Portland were level. The referee gave a soft free kick against a Sports player and Portland took full advantage. A well flighted kick deep into the box was met by a player rushing in at the far post and driven into the corner of the net. We then had half an hour of fairly even play ebbing one way and then the other, neither side gaining supremacy. Just as I thought maybe its going to end 1-1, Portland went in front. A fast break down the left wing ripped the Sports defence apart and when the cross was driven in there were two attackers waiting to score. A bit of frustration crept in after this and Ben Cochrane got his marching orders for a rash tackle which was high and late. Funnily enough, with only 10 minutes left to play, a goal down and reduced to ten men, Sports had probably their best spell of the match, getting possession of the ball and pushing Portland onto the defensive. With time running out a corner driven in by Mike Rousell from the right wing was met flush by Jack Williams and his header zipped into the top corner. A good goal and, at the end of the day, a good point for Sports in a game we could easily have lost. Not for the first time this season the lads showed good spirit when up against it and got the reward
A difficult task at Weymouth was made even harder when we conceded a goal in the first minute. A bouncing through ball didn’t look too dangerous but the defence seemed a bit flat-footed and a Weymouth player ran on, got to the ball first, and lobbed the keeper. Just the start we didn’t want but Sports knuckled down, and with Aaron Mead prominent in a new midfield role, began to put the pressure on our hosts. Mike Rousell was causing a few problems down the right and with Matt Day looking lively on the left. Sports front three, with Taoufik Ben-Salem leading the line, looked as though they might find a way through. A couple of half chances came our way and we had a couple of corners and a free kick that were all wasted with bad deliveries. But as the half progressed Weymouth came back and their left winger had several good runs and crosses which caused havoc in the Sports defence. The game was being played at breakneck pace with neither side having time on the ball and defenders having to clear their lines quickly as they were closed down. The ball therefore spent a lot of time in the air and there was not much in the way of passing possible. At half time we felt we had competed well enough to be on level terms but regretted that goal when we were caught cold in the opening minute.
The second half was as frantic as the first but Weymouth were pushing forward and Sports were finding it difficult to build any attacks. Clear cut chances were few and far between but on the hour Weymouth’s pressure was rewarded when they scored the goal that clinched the points. Sports squandered possession out on the left side and the forward cut in onto his left foot and curled a cracking shot into the top corner which gave our keeper no chance. We tried hard after this blow but we seemed to lack that bit of composure necessary in front of goal. Three subs were pushed on in an attempt to change the game but the contest had now deteriorated into a lot niggly fouls and stoppages. The officials were struggling to control the game so it was a bit of a relief to hear the final whistle. Not a good game of football from a spectators point of view, hard to give any team much credit, probably best to move on and look forward to our visit to Portland at the weekend.
As far as cup ties go, this was a cracker with fortunes swinging one way then the other throughout the game. Unfortunately for Sports we ended up on the losing side but it was a close game and could have gone either way so no complaints. Sports line-up had a couple of changes from Wednesday night at Hamworthy, Andy Smith was suspended, Dean Corden was at a wedding and Mike Rousell was cup-tied so they all missed out. Simon Baker started in midfield and Jack Williams returned to play up front. Matt Day passed a fitness test and so he also lined up for the start which was good news. Merley Cobham started on the front foot and were soon camped in Sports half. Sports were struggling to get possession of the ball at this stage to build any attacks and it was not really a great surprise when the visitors went ahead after 15 minutes. A Sports defender completely missed his clearance leaving the Cobham forward clean through and he slotted away the chance with good composure. A mistake had cost us a goal but after this Sports gradually began to turn the tide, pressing the visitors back and beginning to enjoy the lion’s share of possession. In the 40th minute we got back in the game when their keeper spilled a shot from Matt Day and Danny Call was on hand to bundle the ball home. Half time came with the score tied at 1-1 with not much in it, perhaps the first half just went to Cobham on points.
Sports came out for the second half firing on all cylinders and two minutes in were awarded a penalty when Sam Farthing was pushed in the box. A bit of composure here and we could have been in front but Sam decided to take the kick himself, rushed his effort, and shot tamely at the keeper. A minute later we had a chance to make amends for this when Matt Day was put clean through but his shot was blocked by the keeper, another gilt-edged chance gone begging. Still Sports kept at it however, and in the 49th minute Aaron Mead rose highest to meet a corner from the left and his looping header found the back of the net. At last Sports had their noses in front but Cobham were not giving up and it took them only six minutes to equalise. Again this was a bad defensive error from Sports. A corner from the right was headed towards goal and went in at the far post where you would expect a defender to be placed. A bit of bad organisation from the Westlands defence here, had a defender been guarding the post he could probably have cleared off the line. Good goal though from Cobham’s point of view and it was the visitors who now had their tails up and before long they were back in front. A ball through the middle of Sports defence saw a Cobham forward again clean through and he raced on and slipped the ball past Pearsy to put them 3-2 up. Only two minutes later the same player was put clean through again (for the third time in the match) but this time he shot wide. We were all over the place at this point but credit to Sports, they steadied the ship and came back pushing for the equaliser. By this stage however, we were running out of time and Cobham were defending stoutly and not giving an inch at the back. Substitute Rich Parkinson had a late effort for Sports with a shot which went just past the post but although Sports tried their hardest there was no way through and it was not our day. The referees final whistle brought great celebrations from the Cobham lads and fair play to them, they played very well on the day, took their chances well when they came, and defended with good organisation when they had to. For the Westland lads it was just not our day, we have played better, but lets just give credit to our opponents and wish them well in the final.
PS. The “Manager of the Month” jinx worked again as Sports manager Kevin Leigh was named winner of the DPL accolade for the month of March on Saturday morning!
This was one of these tricky end–of-season games, away from home, and against an opposing team who will possibly be a bit stronger than they would be for a Saturday fixture. Add to this a hard bumpy pitch and you have all the ingredients for a tough evening so under these circumstances it was nice to come away with all three points. Our goalkeeping problem has been resolved with the welcome return of former Sports No.1 Tim Pearse after a spell out of the game. After Ben Cochrane’s heroics between the sticks on Saturday he was restored to the centre half spot with Rich Lindegaard pushing forward into midfield and Danny Call replacing Jack Williams (work commitments) up front. There was also the welcome return of Mike Rousell to the Westlands colours and he took his place on the bench alongside Simon Baker who was ineligible for the cup tie. It was not a night to try and play much football and both teams struggled a bit on the hard surface. Sports, however, were always pushing forward and looked the more likely to score, with Hamworthy looking fast on the break. This was the pattern of the game until the 35th minute when Aaron Mead broke the mould with a stunning goal. Picking the ball up about 30 yards out he took a couple of paces forward and unleashed a searing drive which crashed off the underside of the bar and bounced down over the line. The linesman immediately signalled for a goal and to be fair there were no real complaints from the Hamworthy lads. It was also confirmed at half time by an independant spectator (Pete Watts !) that the ball was well over. We were happy with the 1-0 lead at half-time under the circumstances but hoped for a quick second goal to take the pressure off. This was a pipe dream however, as Hamworthy came out fired up in the second half and for 15 minutes they pushed hard for the equaliser. Their fast forwards were causing us a few problems at this stage but we defended well and gradually we began to push them back and take control of the game again. We were kept nervously waiting until the 85th minute for that crucial second goal to put us outour misery. Mike Rousell, who had replaced Dan Call up
front, fired a shot goalwards which took a massive deflection off a defender leaving the keeper stranded.So, a 2-0 victory for Sports, but the downside of the evening was the injury to Matty Day who limped off with a groin injury and must now be very doubtful for the cup semi-final against Cobham on Saturday.
The pitch at Magna Rd was looking perfect for this League Cup 2nd round tie against Hamworthy Rec. As the teams lined up we noticed a number of the Hamworthy regulars were missing so that was good news but we had our own selection headaches. With regular keeper Ashley Knibbs breaking his thumb last week and backup keeper James Smith unavailable we had a bit of a problem. Young reserve keeper Ryan Peacock has been struggling with a back injury so he was not risked leaving manager Kevin Leigh no option but to ask the ever reliable Ben Cochrane to take over between the sticks. We know Ben is an excellent keeper but it does mean the defence has to re-jigged to cover his normal position at centre half. Rich Lindegaard was moved into the middle and Dean Vincent took the right back spot alongside Aaron Mead and Jason Sims in what looked a strong back four. In the midfield Simon Baker was not eligible for this match but the good news was that Sam Farthing passed a fitness test and started. Taoufik Ben-Salem made a welcome return to the bench after serving a three match suspension and youngsters Haydn Binding and Lewis Morgan made up the squad.
The game started at a hectic pace and before anyone had time to draw breath Sports went ahead. A deep cross from Dean Vincent was headed on by a defender to Sam Farthing right in front of goal and he managed to hook the ball goalwards where the despairing dive of the keeper only pushed the ball into the net. The lino had his flag up for offside but as a defender had headed the ball on, the goal was rightly given. The game was end to end after this and the next major incident was a looping header from a Ham Rec player which Ben acrobatically tipped over the bar. Ben then plucked a couple of corners out the air as Rec desperately tried to force an equaliser but Sports were looking solid at the back with skipper Rich Lindegaard marshalling his defence well. At the same time Sports were always dangerous going forward and as the half progressed Matt Day began to make a few runs at the Ham Rec rearguard causing them a few problems and the midfield trio of Dean Corden, Andy Smith and Sam Farthing were giving their opponents no time on the ball. Half-time came, 1-0 to Sports and everything going according to plan.
We expected Ham Rec to come out firing on all cylinders for the second half but it was noticeable that Sports were first to every ball and were pushing forward into their opponents half. In the 54th minute came the goal of the game. A lovely build up down the left involving Aaron Mead, Sam Farthing and Matt Day ended with Dean Corden cutting in onto his right foot and smashing a shot from 20 yards into the back of the net. The poor keeper seemed a bit unsighted and the ball was past him before he knew it. This was the killer goal putting Sports 2-0 up and in the driving seat. Five minutes later Andy Smith rose to meet a corner from the left and powered in a header which came crashing off the crossbar. Sports were on top now and kept the pressure on. After an hour Taoufik Ben-Salem came on up front for Jack Williams and soon made his mark. In the 65th minute he slipped a perfect ball through the middle for the onrushing Dean Corden to take in his stride. Dean raced through, went round the keeper and slotted the ball into the net for his second goal of the afternoon. At 3-0 and with Sports defence looking solid there was no way back for Rec now and we played out time in relative comfort. Ben made a good save low down at the post late on but apart from that there was no cause for concern. On reflection a good win for Sports and a good clean sheet for the stand-in keeper. This was a good cup tie played in a good spirit by both sides and a most enjoyable game to watch (if you’re a Westlands supporter that is !).
After last weeks drama it was back to basics this week for the visit of Swanage. Some of the visitors team obviously didn’t fancy the long trip to Yeovil as they arrived with only the bare eleven players. Sports had three changes from last week, as expected Sam Farthing missed the game through injury, being replaced by Lewis Morgan in the midfield. At the back Jason Sims replaced Stu Smith and on the right of midfield Dan Call was given the nod in place of Steve Lindegaard.
The first major incident in the game came after 5 minutes when keeper Ashley Knibbs clashed with an opposing forward and had to retire with a broken finger. Luckily enough goalkeeping coach James Smith was on the bench and he took over between the sticks. Sports were causing Swanage a few problems and Matt Day set up Jack Williams who blasted over. Next Danny Call was put through and tried to lob the keeper with no success. Matt Day then set up Lewis but the keeper blocked his attempt and that was pretty well the story of the first half with Sports creating chances but failing to score due to some poor finishing. Eventually, just before the break, we broke the deadlock. Lewis Morgan made some good headway down the left and fired over a good cross which Danny Call slid in to convert. That opening goal made it a more relaxed half time break and the general feeling was one of optimism for the second half.
Unfortunately, the second half fell into much the same formula as the first, Sports creating some gilt edged chances but failing to convert them into goals. For some reason we seemed to be playing a rather restrained game this week, with only Lewis Morgan seeming to support the front man and both Billy Baker and Andy Smith lying a bit deeper. Quite a good tactic I suppose if it brings clean sheets, maybe a rehearsal for future matches.
After about 20 minutes of the half Lewis was withdrawn and was replaced by Dean Corden. Dean can always be relied on to have an impact on the game and sure enough within 5 minutes of coming on he scored that vital second goal, knocking in a cross from Danny Call. Sports relaxed a bit now and 10 minutes later Dean Corden made the points safe with a nice header from a right wing cross. There was no way back for Swanage now and their afternoon went from bad to worse when they had a player sent off for two rash tackles. A few minutes from the end Danny Call sidefooted in a Dean Corden pass to make it 4-0 and a convincing victory for Sports. A bit of a low key performance from the lads this week but the job was done and you can’t complain about a 4-0 scoreline.
This was one of these “I was there” moments as Sports stormed to victory over Parley Sports having been reduced to nine men and trailing 1-0 at half-time. An amazing turn round in a day that got off to a bad start when Dean Vincent had to pull out during the warm-up with flu symptoms. Steve Lindegaard stepped into the breach, taking the right midfield position with brother Rich dropping into the full-back spot vacated by Dean. With Jason Sims and Dean Corden unavailable from last week, Aaron Mead came into the back line and Simon ‘Billy’ Baker made his debut in midfield. In the early stages the game was fairly even in terms of possession but Sports always looked more liable to score and did, in fact have the ball in the net twice, with both Aaron Mead and Sam Farthing having their efforts ruled out for offside, probably correctly. The referee was being a bit fussy, continually stopping the game for minor infringements and we could see this was beginning to niggle both sets of players. After about half an hour this blew up in our face. Andy Smith protested when he was caught by a high boot and was immediately shown a straight red card, presumeably for something he said to the referee. Stuart Smith then took up his brothers case and after a face-off and shouting match with the official, he too was shown a straight red card. Eventually, after the furore settled down, the game restarted and within two minutes, a shell-shocked Sports found themselves 1-0 down when a Parley player headed in a free-kick from the left wing. There were still seven minutes to go to the interval and somehow we managed to get through them with no more disasters. Pondering the situation over a half-time pint, I could see no way back for Sports, 1-0 down and nine men against eleven on their own pitch seemed too big a mountain to climb but how wrong I was ! Sports came out fired up for the challenge and after only two minutes grabbed the equaliser. Matt Day raced through the heart of the Parley defence, was barged off the ball in the box, and the ref pointed to the spot. Sam Farthing despatched the spot-kick with confidence and all of a sudden we were back on level terms. For the next ten minutes Sports nine men were superb, winning all the tackles and second balls and putting in that extra yard to support their team-mates. In the 55th minute, fate took another twist in our favour when Jack Williams raced through only to be brought down on the edge of the box. Judging the defender to be the last man the referee sent him off thus reducing the Parley team to ten. Westland players took heart from this and within two minutes took the lead. Centre half Aaron Mead stormed forward to support the attack and when his shot was parried by the Parley keeper, Matt Day was on hand to score and put Sports in front. The Westland lads were cock-a-hoop having got their noses in front and it was clear Parley were now pretty demoralised and running out of ideas. At this point manager Kevin Leigh put on some fresh legs with Dan Call and Lewis Morgan coming on. This had the desired effect and in the 70th minute Jack Williams made it 3-1 with a brilliant solo effort. Driving into the box, Jack showed great close control to fend off the defender and slot his shot past the diving keeper. Sports were rampant now and three minutes later made it four. Again Jack Williams was the provider, with Simon Baker getting on the end of his cross to smash the ball into the net. With 15 minutes to go, understandably Sports began to tire a bit and took up a more defensive stance, but to be fair, Parley never really looked like scoring and we played out time without any real scares. Great celebrations at the final whistle by the Sports players and who could blame them after a magnificent second half performance. Parley players were obviously gutted at the end of the game but they took it on the chin and, to their credit, congratulated us on our victory. So, same starting nine next week ?
After two weeks of inactivity, it was good to get a game and the visit of Holt Utd, who were unbeaten away from home, was very welcome. Manager Kevin Leigh selected a strong looking side, with Dean Corden and Matt Day returning to the team in place of youngsters Haydn Binding and Lewis Morgan who dropped to the bench. With Taoufik Ben-Salem still suspended Jack Williams continued up front. The early exchanges were fairly even with some tough tackling from both sides but it was Sports who had an early scare when the ball appeared to hit Stu Smith’s hand in the box but the ref ruled out Holt’s appeals. Although the game was fairly even at this stage it was Sports who carved out the clear cut chances, Matt Day put a free header straight into the keepers hands and then failed to convert when twice put clean through with only the keeper to beat. Jack Williams was also put clear but was stopped at the edge of the box by a great tackle from the chasing defender. On the half hour mark came a major incident in the match when a high tackle from a Holt player was punished with a straight red card. Not many complaints really from the Holt lads but it did leave them to play for an hour with a man short. Just before half time the deadlock was broken when Sports went ahead. After a long ball was knocked down the left for Matt Day to chase, the keeper decided to charge off his line and was left in no-man’s land leaving Matt to coolly lob him from 25 yards. So, with a 1-0 lead at half time and facing 10 men in the second half, we felt confident we could go on and secure the three points.
Any game plan Holt may have had for the second half was shattered within two minutes of the restart when Sports got number two. Rich Lindegaard made a good run down the right wing and when he crossed hard and low that man Matt Day got across the keeper to sidefoot in from a couple of yards and notch his second goal of the game. With nothing to lose Holt now went to three at the back and pushed on to try and salvage something from the game. Although they were having some territorial advantage our defence was quite composed and Sports seemed quite content to sit back and try to hit the depleted visitors defence on the break. The final goal came with about seven minutes left on the clock. A cross from the left was met by Dean Corden who rose like a salmon to power a header into the net. Obviously the game was all over then and a good three points for Sports which moved us up to fourth place in the table at the expense of our visitors from Holt.
After last weeks victory manager Kevin Leigh made only one change to the starting line-up for the visit of Cobham Sports. Taoufik Ben-Salem started a three match suspension so Jack Williams made a welcome return to the side. With almost a full squad to pick from, Matt Day being the only other absentee due to injury, Sports had a full complement of five subs all chomping at the bit on the bench. We started strongly forcing a couple of early corners, one of which saw Aaron Mead left in the clear with the goal at his mercy but he blasted over. Gradually, however, Cobham settled and began to push Sports onto the back foot for long periods. It was noticeable that although having territorial advantage Cobham were not creating any clear cut chances and our central defence of Ben Cochrane and Aaron Mead were winning everything in the air. When we did attack we looked more dangerous in my view and Lewis Morgan and Jack Williams had clear chances which they could not convert.
Nil Nil at half time was a fair result and when we heard the Merley Cobham players getting a terrible roasting at half time we wondered if they would come out fired up. I'm afraid the coaches words fell on deaf ears as when the second half started it took Sports only a minute to take the lead. A free kick from the left was driven into the box by Paul Leatherland and Jack Williams met it on the run to bullet a header past the keeper. Sports were well in control now and 10 minutes later made it two when Sam Farthing headed in a Lewis Morgan cross. The same player (Sam Farthing) made it three in the 65th minute with a nice shot on the turn. Sports were rampant now and when the Cobham centre half made a complete mess of a back-pass Haydn Binding took full advantage, rounding the keeper to score. At 4-0 Sports took their foot off the pedal and when we went down to 10 men due to a Sam Farthing injury, Merley Cobham were able to pull one back with a good finish in the corner that gave Ashley Knibbs no chance. Pity to lose the clean sheet but a good victory, the only worry being the injury to Sam Farthing as we prepare for next weeks cup clash at Hamworthy Rec.
Sports made a number of changes from the side which disappointed at Sturminster Marshall last week, Aaron Mead, Stu Smith, Haydn Binding and Taoufik Ben Salem all coming into the starting line-up. The strong wind was blowing down the pitch from the clubhouse end and Portland didn’t take long to cash in. In the 10th minute their striker cut inside onto his right foot and let fly from just outside the box and the ball flew into the back of the net. Perhaps he could have been closed down quicker but lets just give credit to a good strike. Within two minutes Taoufik Ben Salem had a chance to get a quick equaliser but his shot went just past the post. The game then settled down into a fairly even contest with both teams playing some good football but unable to put the finishing touch to some good moves. The half time whistle came with our visitors still leading 1-0 but from Sports point of view we were looking good with Ben Salem leading the line well and Haydn Binding, Sam Farthing and Lewis Morgan giving some good support.
The second half kicked off and it only took Sports two minutes to draw level. A low cross was flicked on by Sam Farthing and the ball looped into the corner of the net. A goal out of nothing really but it came at an opportune time and gave Sports a big boost. Three minutes later and Andy Smith headed a cross onto the crossbar as Sports pressed for another goal. And we didn’t have long to wait as in the 55th minute we went in front. Lewis Morgan, who was now playing a more central role, head-flicked on a cross from the right and Haydn Binding lifted the ball over the advancing keeper to make it 2-1. Sports had their tails up now and kept the pressure on the Portland goal. In 62 minutes Andy Smith headed just wide and in the 75th minute Taoufik Ben Salem crashed
a header off the post from Ben Cochrane’s free kick. Although we were on top now, as time wore on there was always the chance Portland might just sneak an equaliser but to be fair our defence was looking pretty sound with Aaron Mead and Ben Cochrane providing a solid backbone in the centre. All round a good performance from Westlands and a welcome three points against a good side.
Sports took the field at Sturminster Marshall showing two changes from the side which defeated Cranborne last week. Stuart Smith replaced Jason Sims at left back and Lewis Morgan was left midfield in place of Paul Leatherland. Charlie Gay made his first appearance on the bench. The pitch was in very poor condition, the bumpy surface made it difficult to control the ball and two or three touches were often necessary. Nevertheless Sports tried to get the ball down and pass it and for long periods of the game had the upper hand. Marshall, however, adopted a different tactic, getting the ball forward as quick as possible and hoping for a mistake or a lucky break to give them a chance. Unfortunately on the day it was the latter tactic which paid off and ultimately won them the game. The first half was fairly even with Sports creating the better chances but in the 45th minute Sturminster opened the scoring. A long diagonal pass from right to left found their attacker in the clear having pulled 10 yards off the last defender and he ran on to score. A bad case of ball watching by Sports defence here, but also there was a good shout for offside which the young lino didn’t give. So it was 1-0 down at half-time but our opponents had not shown much creativity apart from a long ball so we were confident we could turn things around in the second half.
We started on the front foot and the Sturminster goal was leading a charmed life, Ben Cochrane going close with two headers one of which was scooped off the line. Eventually the equaliser came on the hour mark. Steve Lindegaard swung over a deep cross and LEWIS MORGAN volleyed the ball into the roof of the net with the keeper helpless. A cracking goal, well deserved, and surely now we would go on to win the game. But no, ten minutes later we shot ourselves in the foot. A Sturminster player, under pressure on the halfway line, hoofed the ball high into air and as it dropped just inside our box there seemed no danger. That was until a collision between our keeper Ashley Knibbs and defender Stu Smith saw our keeper spill the ball which fell perfectly for the Stur forward who was following up and he banged it into the empty net. This was a bad goal to lose at a time when we were in the ascendancy and it knocked the stuffing out of us for a few minutes. It also galvanised Sturminster Marshall as they now had a lead to defend and were happy to do just that. We kept pressing but they had numbers back and with 90 minutes on the clock defeat looked inevitable. Suddenly, in a goalmouth melee, RICH LINDEGAARD found himself with the goal at his mercy and headed into the empty net for the equaliser. However our celebrations did not last long, as deep into injury time (annoyingly added for Stur players falling over injured when they were 2-1 up), another ball over the top of our defence left their player in the clear and he rounded the keeper to score the winning goal. Our players were convinced this one was offside but apparently the linesman was not looking at the time so the goal stood. What an end to a very disappointing afternoon and three points given away. Not much luck going our way either so we can just hope it will even itself out on another day.
Although 2-0 may not look too convincing on paper this was a pretty solid performance from Sports in a game we never looked like losing. Having reverted to a back four again the shape looked quite solid and Sports were always in command. There were a few changes from last weeks defeat at Bridgwater with starting positions for Ben Cochrane, Steve Lindegaard, Paul Leatherland and Leo Hayward in place of Stu Smith, Haydn Binding, Matt Day and Dean Corden. Lewis Morgan returned to the bench after some outstanding performances for the reserves and we also welcomed back manager Kevin Leigh after illness. OK, having completed the roll call, the game opened with Cranborne pushing on into Sports half and having the majority of the possession for the first 15-20 minutes. Despite this Ashley Knibbs was really never troubled in Sports goal and the first shot on target came after about 20 minutes which he saved easily. Gradually we began to take control and the action moved to the other end of the pitch with Cranborne being forced onto the defensive. Despite having all the pressure our strikers were not finding a way through and our moves were tending to break down at the edge of the box. Rich Lindegaard caught the eye with some good overlapping runs down the right wing but we could not get anyone on the end of his crosses. The half ended with a desperate melee in the Cranborne goalmouth, Dean Vincent having a couple of efforts blocked as our opponents defence defended desperately.
We were fairly relaxed at half-time as Westlands really looked the stronger side and it only looked a matter of time before the Cranborne defence would crack. After 15 minutes of solid pressure in the second half, the breakthrough came when Paul Leatherland hit a screamer from the edge of the box which flew through a crowd of players into the back of the net. A great strike from Paul and surely now the floodgates would open. But, to give the Cranborne defence credit, they held firm and denied Sports that second goal which would just make the game safe. A couple of substitutions were made with Haydn Binding and Lewis Morgan being introduced to pep up the attack. This made all the difference and Cranborne were under severe pressure now and with 15 minutes to go we got the goal we wanted. Andy Smith slipped a nice ball through to Haydn whose shot on the turn was parried by the keeper and the alert Sam Farthing slotted in the rebound. The game was over now and the remainder of the match was played out with Sports camped in the Cranborne half looking for a third goal. It never came due to some desperate defending and so the game finished 2-0, and a satisfactory three points in the bag. As I said before, a solid if not sparkling display from Sports and what was pleasing was the performance of the two young subs who definitely added some enthusiasm and movement to the team when they came on.
SOMERSET SENIOR CUP, 3RD ROUND, Saturday 15th January 2011,
BRIDGWATER TOWN RES. 2 WESTLAND SPORTS 1
Having played with a back four for the last few games we switched back to a three for this Somerset Senior Cup tie. Paul Leatherland was the player dropped to the bench leaving Dean Vincent, Rich Lindegaard and Jason Sims at the back. Stu Smith moved forward into midfield and Danny Call returned to partner Dean Corden up front. Sports opened brightly and within a couple of minutes Dean was clean through but shot over. Danny Call then had a couple of chances but missed the target as Sports continued to press for the opening goal. Our opponents seemed a bit overawed at this stage, their defence was all over the place, and it only seemed a matter of time before we scored. Then came the sucker punch. In virtually their first attack, a cross was fired over from the left, Stu Smith ducked out of the header, and the Bridgwater attacker smashed it on the volley into the back of the net. Although taken well it was a soft goal to lose and was a real shot in the arm for our opponents. Nevertheless, we continued to press and within 5 minutes got back level. Matt Day headed a cross against the bar and as Danny Call stooped to head the rebound he got kicked in the head by a defenders high boot. Penalty it was, but as Danny had treatment for the kick he had to leave the field and so Sam Farthing stepped up to bury the penalty into the corner. We deserved to be level and with only 15 minutes gone there was a long way to go and plenty time get things right. A couple of chances were created but on each occasion the finish was poor and it was noticeable that Bridgwater were gradually weathering the storm. In the 20th minute Ashley Knibbs was called into action, diving to save a free kick from the edge of the box. Still the chances came and went at the other end, Andy Smith hit the bar with a header and the keeper blocked a Dean Corden effort as he broke through. Then just before the break disaster struck. A soft free kick was given against Stu Smith for handball at the edge of our penalty area. The free kick was fired into the danger area, our keeper dived and missed it and the ball somehow ended up in the far corner of the net through the crowd of players. The half time whistle blew a couple of minutes later and we went in 2-1 down but we had seen enough in the first half to believe we could turn this tie around.
Bridgwater had also seen enough in the first half to realise they were unlikely to improve on their current position so it was a defensive side we faced in the second half as they packed their box at every opportunity. When we did manage to create a chance we found Bridgwater’s keeper in inspired form and this was basically the story of the second half. Simsy had a shot tipped over, the keeper somehow slapped the ball off Sam Farthing’s toe from a yard out after he had dived full length to parry a Dean Corden shot. Then came another double save as he palmed out a Dean Corden header then tipped over Andy Smith’s header from the rebound. As we moved into the last 20 minutes, Bridgwater brought on a couple of older heads to stiffen up the defence even more and unfortunately we could not find that little bit of ingenuity to create the equaliser. Several corners came Sports way but the high deliveries were easy meat for the big keeper who was now full of confidence and took care of them all. And that was it, full time, and an untimely exit from the county cup. A cup that we had won last season and been beaten finalists the year before so a sad day. All credit to Bridgwater for achieving a result but it was obvious from the way they started that they did not expect to win this game and so it was a bad one to lose. The old recipe for disaster comes to mind, miss chances in attack and give away soft goals in defence and you are always going to struggle, regardless of the quality of opposition. Back to the drawing board for sports, next week it’s a visit to struggling Cranborne in the league.
League Cup 1st Rnd, Saturday 8th January 2011,
WESTLAND SPORTS 2 CHICKERELL UTD 1
With several games called off locally due to the heavy rain, it was great to see all three pitches at Alvington in playable condition. A good test for the new drainage which, fingers crossed, appears to be doing its job. Manager Kevin Leigh decided to shuffle the pack a bit for this League Cup tie, with a new partnership up front where Leo Hayward was joined by Andy Smith. Stu Smith took Andy’s place in midfield with Jason Sims stepping into the centre-half berth. Sports soon had the visitors pinned in their own half and the first good chance was a header from Andy Smith at the far post which went just past. Sports continued to press and Dean Vincent overlapped down the right, crossed to Leo Hayward whose shot also missed the target. On the half hour, Paul Leatherland smashed a free kick through the wall, the keeper parried his shot then made a good save from Leo who was following up. Shortly afterwards Andy Smith headed a Haydn Binding cross just over but in the 35th
minute the breakthrough came. Matt Day crossed and Andy Smith headed in off the underside of the bar to make it 1-0. A couple of minutes later we made it two. An Andy Smith effort was saved by the keeper but Leo Hayward was following up and thumped the ball into the back of the net. A two goal lead was a fair reflection on the match as Ashley Knibbs in the Sports goal hardly had a touch. On reflection at half time, however, I felt Sports had lost their shape a little in that Matt Day seemed to be drifting in off the left wing to play more through the middle whereas on the other side Haydn Binding was playing very deep like a wing back even although we were playing with a back four. The result of this was that we did not show the drive and pace in the wide areas to stretch the Chickerell defence who did not look the fittest. Just an observation, not a criticism as the lads were winning 2-0 so obviously there was no problem.
The second half started like the first with Sports pressing. Andy Smith set up Matt Day who blasted over the top from about 6 yards. Sports had a few corners which came to nothing and just as the game seemed to be drifting to an inevitable conclusion we gifted the opposition a goal. A disastrous attempt at a short free kick gave the ball straight to the Chickerell forward who chipped it over the stranded Ashley Knibbs from about 40 yards. A dreadful goal to give away but an excellent finish by the forward who knew exactly what he was doing and executed it perfectly. So, at 2-1 Chickerell got a shot in the arm and the began to build a few attacks and put Sports on the back foot a little. To be fair though our defence looked quite solid were not under any great pressure and with 10 minutes to go Dean Corden thumped a glorious shot off the crossbar which would have finished the game off. Sports finished the game on the front foot and several more half chances went begging before the referee blew the final whistle. Not a vintage display from the Westland lads, the passing going astray in the second half, but another win so no complaints. I think we are away to the winners of Blandford or Holt in the quarter-finals so whichever way that one turns out it will be a tough one.
Sports first line-up of the year saw a few changes from the team that drew 0-0 with Weymouth on 11th
December. With Ben Cochrane and Dean Corden suspended, Rich Lindegaard returned to the back four and Haydn Binding was given his first outing in the first team after some impressive displays in the youth and reserve teams. Matt Day partnered Danny Call up front and Steve Lindegaard started on the left side of midfield. There was also a welcome return for Aaron Mead on the bench. Sports started on the front foot, forcing three corners in the first few minutes, but it was a fairly low key first half with both sides looking a bit rusty. Westlands, however, always looked in command and the more likely side to score. We did have the ball in the net in the 25th minute after a good run and cross by Haydn. The linesman however chalked it off for offside. A few more chances were created by Sports but the Stur keeper mopped up any efforts that were on target, and the half ended in a 0-0 stalemate.
The second half saw Sports in control but that opening goal was proving elusive. Leo Hayward was brought on to play up front with Danny Call with Matt Day moving to the wide left position. Sports attacks were constant now and Haydn Binding and Rich Lindegaard were combining well down the right and it was from this area the opening goal came. Rich fired in a low cross which Leo Hayward hooked into the net on the volley giving the keeper no chance. It was constant Westlands pressure now and the additional pace up front was beginning to trouble the visitors defence. The second goal came on 65 minutes when Haydn drove into the box and was brought down for a stonewall penalty. Danny Call took the spot kick and smashed the ball into the roof of the net to make the game safe. Kevin Leigh then gave Aaron Mead and Jason Sims some game time from the bench as Sports continued to press in the Stur half. Matt Day was guilty of missing a couple of sitters but no harm done as Stur never really looked like getting back into the game. Possibly their best chance came near the end when Sports keeper Ashley Knibbs took two attempts to gather a shot and bravely dived on the ball as the Sturminster player lunged in. The referee saw the challenge as dangerous and gave the attacker a yellow card, quickly followed by a red as the lad had previously been booked ! This was the last incident in the game which ended with Sports being fairly easy, if not convincing winners. Both teams will play better than this but considering the long lay off it was three welcome points for Westlands.
Sports surprised us by lining up with a back four this week. Rich Lindegaard was missing so Dean Vincent and Paul Leatherland were the full backs with Stu Smith and Ben Cochrane in the centre. After three weeks without a game, we were not expecting our team to come roaring out the blocks, and so the early supremacy by the lively young Weymouth team was no real surprise. Their right winger was having some success and delivered a few balls into the box but they were all defended fairly comfortably and Ashley Knibbs was not called into action in the Sports goal. We, in turn, began to probe after a bit, mainly relying on long balls to Matty Day who looked as if he could cause them a few problems down the left wing. To be honest though, neither side could carve out a decent chance in what was proving to be a fairly even contest. In the last few minutes before the break came the best two chances of the half. First Matt Day burst through and his shot across goal skimmed the crossbar on its way over the top. A couple of minutes later a Weymouth attacker gave us an action replay, his fierce shot on the run just skimming the bar.
After their half time tea, and with 45 minutes under their belt, Sports came out in the second half looking to press on for the three points. We got off to a lively start straight away with Matty Day shooting just wide and gradually Sports increased the pressure on the visitor’s defence. On the hour, Taoufik Ben-Salem was introduced in place of Danny Call and he quickly got involved, just failing to get on the end of a Steve McDaid cross that was fired across the goalmouth. A few minutes later a Weymouth free kick into the Westlands box was left by everyone and just slipped past the far post. This was an isolated chance for the visitors as Sports quickly resumed at the other end with probably the best chance of the game. Steve Lindegaard, who had replaced the tiring Matt Day, put in a lovely cross from the right wing which found Steve McDaid unmarked at the far post. Unfortunately the ball fell to his left foot and as he tried to cut inside onto his right the defender dived in and made the block. As time began to run out, so did tempers with tackles flying in and handbags coming out. Personally I thought the referee did a good job under testing circumstances and allowed common sense to prevail on several occasions. Still Sports looked for that winning goal and a Ben-Salem cross flashed across the goalmouth with no takers. Finally, deep into injury time came the moment that could have clinched the points for Sports. A free kick out on the right was launched into the box where it was headed back down to Andy Smith 15 yards out. Andy smashed his shot goalwards only to see the keeper throw up his hands and turn the ball over. So the points were shared, no complaints really, two good sides battling hard and to a great extent cancelling each other out. From our point of view an opportunity lost but it was good to get a game under our belts with another tough tie in the Somerset Senior Cup coming up next week.
Saturday 20th November 2010, SOMERSET SENIOR CUP, ROUND 1,
WESTLAND SPORTS 5 LARKHALL ATHLETIC RES 1
The first round of our defence of the Somerset Senior Cup saw the visit of Somerset Senior League Division 1 side Larkhall Athletic Reserves. Only one change in Sports starting eleven from last week’s team, Paul Leatherland replaced the injured Jason Sims in defence, but on the bench there was a welcome return for Dean Vincent and Leo Hayward. We got off to the worst possible start, in four minutes a harmless cross from the right saw Paul Leatherland roll the ball into the back of the net with keeper Ashley Knibbs floundering. A basic error in communication, I think, but a mistake which should have been avoided. Both teams settled in now and Larkhall looked an accomplished team as they knocked the ball around confidently belying their lowly league position.Nevertheless, in the 15th minute Sports drew level. Andy Smith took a pass from Sam Farthing 20 yards out, steadied himself, and rifled the ball into the top corner for a tremendous equaliser. The game continued fairly even after this until just after the half hour mark when the wheels came off for Larkhall. Their No 6 brought Dean Corden down on the edge of the box then pushed him over as Dean squared up. The yellow card was brandished and Paul Leatherland hit the free-kick into the wall. A couple of minutes later as Dean again charged for goal in typical style, the No 6, probably still agitated after his booking, hacked him down from behind. An obvious booking, I thought, and so did the referee, meaning it was curtains for the Larks player. Although down to 10 men Larkhall still looked pretty solid and played through to half time fairly easily.
Sports first chance in the second half came from a free kick which Paul Leatherland put over the top. The game was settling into a pattern now where Sports were controlling the centre ground with Andy Smith running the show but Larkhall were causing us real problems in the wide areas with their pace and direct running. In the 52nd minute came another key moment when a Larkhall player broke through but Ashley Knibbs rushed off his line and dived to block the shot. The 10 men had their tails up now and another fast raid saw their forward clean through again but luckily his shot hit the side net. Sports hit back and a Sam Farthing header from a Steve Lindegaard cross was tipped onto the post by the keeper. Back to the other end and Ashley Knibbs again foiled a fast Larkhall break and the rebound was knocked over the bar. In the 67th minute came the breakthrough we needed. Dean Corden slipped a nice ball through to Sam Farthing who drove it past the keeper to put Sports in front for the first time in the game. Sports were in confident mood now and eight minutes later went 3-1 up. Danny Call went through and the keeper dived to block his effort but the ball broke to Dean Corden who squeezed it in from an acute angle. Larkhall hit back with an attack down the right, and when Paul Leatherland pulled the attacker back by the ankle they had a free kick right on the edge of the box. Luckily they squandered the opportunity and that was really the last throw of the dice for Larkhall. Matt Day had come on for Sports and his fresh legs were too much for a tiring Larkhall defence. In the 82nd minute Matt Day sprinted clear but the keeper saved his shot. Three minutes later Matt and Dean Corden carved open the visitors defence with an interchange of passes and Matt Day finished the move from Dean’s cut-back for the fourth goal. The Larks were out on their feet now and three minutes from the end Sam Farthing dinked in the fifth goal after a flick-on from Dean. There was just time for Matt Day to be subjected to a nasty tackle which saw him carried off. I think had this challenge been made earlier in the game our opponents would have been down to nine men. The good news is that there appears to be no serious damage at first inspection. A good win for Sports then, although I think 5-1 was perhaps a bit flattering against a strong Larkhall side reduced to 10 men for the last hour, but then again they were the architects of their own downfall and we took full advantage which is to the lads credit. One small observation are these free kicks around the box, which week after week are wasted as we never seem to hit the target.
Saturday 13th November 2010,
HAMWORTHY RECREATION 1 WESTLAND SPORTS 0
After an early morning inspection the pitch was passed fit to play and by kick-off time was looking quite good if a little soggy. With pick-of-league winger Matt Day failing a fitness test just before kick-off, Steve Lindegaard replaced him and was the only change from last week. The early exchanges were fairly even with neither side creating any clear cut chances, a Dean Corden shot which flew over the bar being Sports best attempt. In the 35th minute another injury blow struck when Andy Smith had to retire after a painful blow to the ribs, Paul Leatherland stepped into the midfield to replace him. There was a bit of tension creeping into the game at this point and the ref was having to work hard to keep on top of it. Nevertheless Sports were giving as good as they got and on 40 minutes a Danny Call header from a Dean Corden cross slipped just by the post.
As the half ended, Rec forced a corner on the right. A high cross came over to the far post where the number 5 outjumped his marker to head towards goal. A flick-on in the crowded area was enough to deflect the ball past Ashley Knibbs in the Sports goal for the opening, and, as it turned out, winning goal. Sports were a little unlucky to be behind at the break and the match was still very much in the balance as the teams took the field for the second half. Sports stepped up a gear now and, although dominating possession, just could not get a decent attempt on target. In the 52nd minute Sam Farthing headed a Paul Leatherland free kick over the bar. Ten minutes later a Ham Rec player broke awaybut Ash blocked his effort. Manager Kevin Leigh went for broke at this stage by bringing off midfielder Steve McDaid and replacing him with forward Jack Williams who was making his first appearance of the season. Sports still had the upper hand but could still not get a good effort on target. Again on 70 minutes Dan Call shot past the near post when well placed. Once again 5 minutes later our hosts hit back and their player shot over. The final chance for Sports was a Danny Call header from a Jack Williams cross which went over the top. A disappointing defeat for Sports who had the lion’s share of pressure but credit to the Hamworthy rearguard who defended resolutely. They have only conceded 9 goals in the league this season and its those sort of stats that win you league titles. From Sports point of view, we showed that we are a match for the best and with the rub of the green could have come away with a victory.
Last season Poole Borough did the double over us so a trip to Turlin Moor meant a good performance would be required if we were to take anything from the match. There was only one change from the victory over Chickerell, four goal Danny Call starting in place of Rich Hebditch. We got off to a bad start when Taoufik Ben-Salem appeared to pull a hamstring before the game had even started ! Nevertheless the match kicked off with “Ben” hobbling around obviously unable to take part and he was quickly substituted by Jason Sims. This meant a re-shuffle of the team lineup was required, Dean Corden moved up front to partner Dan Call, Stu Smith stepped forward into midfield and Jason slotted in to Stu’s place at the back. In spite of this we settled well and although early possession was shared, Poole didn’t really create any chances whereas we looked more dangerous with fast breaks. This was perfectly demonstrated in the eighth minute when we took the lead. Matt Day picked the ball up on the halfway line and raced off down the wing leaving two Borough defenders in his wake. He delivered a hard low ball across the face of the goal and there was Dean Corden sliding in at the far post to convert the cross. A great goal which was created at breathtaking speed and gave us just the start we wanted. For the next 20 minutes possession was shared but Poole’s only real danger came from set pieces which were well delivered but well defended by Sports rearguard. Westlands attacks were still the more dangerous and on the half hour Matt Day burst through, rounded the keeper, but the angle was tight and he found the side netting with his shot.
Half time, 1-0 and all going well. Two minutes into the second half Mark Farthing had a header saved from a free kick as Sports began to apply the pressure. Sure enough, five minutes into the half Sports scored again with a lovely passing move down the left involving four players before Dean Corden slipped Danny Call in and he scored with a calm sidefoot finish. Sports were well on top now and and seven minutes later it was 3-0, Danny Call heading in a Steve McDaid cross. Sports were in control but the game got a bit niggly for a while and needless bookings were picked up for silly offences. Eventually in the 70th minute Sports got their fourth goal when Sam Farthing was pulled back when racing in on goal. Danny Call stepped up and coolly slotted the penalty into the bottom corner to complete his hat-trick. It was definitely game over now, but Borough got a late consolation when a sloppy pass in midfield gave their lad the chance and he ran through to score with ease and ruin Knibbsy’s clean sheet. A good team performance by Sports at a ground where points have to be battled for.
Another home game, and after last weeks disappointment of dropping two points at home to Stur Marshall, we really had to see off Chickerell if we were to maintain our challenge at the top of the table. Ashley Knibbs returned between the sticks and, with Jason Sims unavailable, Rich Lindegaard dropped back into defence and Dean Corden returned to the midfield. Sports started with most of the possession but no real goal threat until the 13th minute when Andy Smith was clean through and scuffed his shot wide. Then, on the half hour mark, disaster struck. A quick free kick saw the big Chickerell centre forward pick the ball up just inside the Sports half and he was allowed to run about 20 yards unchallenged before thumping a low drive into the bottom corner from just outside the box. One or two Sports players seemed to be caught out arguing about the free kick rather than being switched on to the danger. Nevertheless, Sports fought back, Dean Corden had an effort tipped round by the keeper and Steve McDaid put a free kick over the top before the pressure eventually told. Dean Corden cut in from the right and fired over a low cross which the defender turned past the keeper into the net (OG). On level terms now Sports kept pressing. Taoufik Ben Salem blocked a keeper’s clearance but the ball ran just by the post and Andy Smith had a great header clawed away by the Chickerell goalie who was proving a hard man to beat. One-one at half time flattered the visitors a little but in the back of our minds was the similarity to last week’s game when chances were not converted and points were dropped. There was some optimism however, in the fact that the pitch was getting heavy and if fitness became a factor we noted that the visitors had a couple of lads at the back who looked to be carrying a few extra pounds ! Sports started the second half on the front foot again, Taoufik had a shot kicked off the line, an Andy Smith effort was tipped over and Dean Corden scooped over from 5 yards. At this point, with an hour gone, Danny Call replaced Richard Hebditch and it wasn’t long before he broke the deadlock. Put through on goal by Sam Farthing, Danny saw his shot touched onto the post but he followed up to net the rebound. Sports were pretty well in control now and as we approached 90 minutes Matt Day slipped a nice pass through to Danny Call and he made it three with a sidefoot finish. That was game over, or so we thought, but going into overtime Danny Call ran through again, rounded the last defender and fired into the far corner for number four. Still the clock ticked on and in a final finale Paul Leatherland put Danny Call through once more and he finished with great composure to make the final score an unlikely 5-1. What a finish to a match that we had struggled to turn pressure into goals – until that last 5 minutes !
Our team showed two changes from the side that won so well last week at Swanage. James Smith took over in goal from Ashley Knibbs, who had a back injury, and Rich Lindegaard replaced Dean Corden in midfield. The prospect of three points was on the cards, as our mid-table opponents looked a bit disorganised, with players turning up just before kick-off, and we were looking to consolidate our home form with a win. The early exchanges were fairly insipid with Sports on top but Sturminster signalled their intent by forcing a couple of early corners. In the 12th minute Taoufik Ben Salem headed in a cross from the right but the linesman ruled it out for offside. Quite rightly, so I’m told ! Sports continued to press and chances came and went but somehow we looked in second gear. Andy Smith headed just past the post on 16 minutes and in the 23rd minute Rich Lindegaard blazed over. Five minutes later, following a Stur attack, we broke quickly and Rich Hebditch shot just past. At last we were showing a bit of pace and urgency. Soon after, another fast attack saw Taoufik Ben Salem through on goal but he shot just past. Stur had their moments in the first half but never really created a goalscoring threat. Nil-nil at half time then, and with Sports stepping up the pace a bit before half time the prospects looked good for the second half. Five minutes into the second period and a slick passing move saw Rich Lindegaard put clean through on goal. Unfortunately the goalkeeper charged off his line to block the shot. Sturminster kept their interest alive by having a couple of shots, neither of which troubled James Smith in the Sports goal. On the hour mark the breakthrough came. Matt Day exchanged passes with Taoufik Ben Salem and prodded the ball past the advancing keeper. So, 1-0 to Sports, surely we would go on and score a couple more. Sam Farthing hit the bar after the keeper failed to parry his shot, Matt Day shot just past the post and another Sam Farthing effort was tipped round the post. A familiar story in home games with Sports failing to convert their chances. With seven minutes to go Sturminster got a free kick midway into Sports half out on the right wing. The lad swung over a deep cross to the far post where the Sturminster player headed in unchallenged. A bad case of ball watching here as there were actually two opposition players unmarked at the far post, either of whom could have headed in the cross. One last flurry of attacks produced nothing and the Sturminster players’ reaction at the end of the game said everything. The fact is, although not at our best, we were the better team on the day and but for a soft goal could have taken the points. Nevertheless another two points dropped at home is a concern but luckily we have the chance to put this behind us with the visit of Chickerell Utd to Alvington next Saturday
Last season’s encounters with Swanage were not very fruitful for Sports with two losses and a draw being the result of our three games (two league, one cup). This time round it was a different Swanage side from last season but they had shown some good form, notably a draw away to Ham Rec and a victory in their previous league game at Stur Marshall. We also knew matches at Day’s Park were not easy at any time and you were always guaranteed a feisty encounter. There were a couple of changes from last week, Ben Cochrane returned to the defence and with Dan Call and Dean Ritchie unavailable, Taoufik Ben Salem returned to the side after a 35 day suspension to partner Rich Hebditch up front.
Straight from the kick –off Sports had a hungry look about them and soon had the Swanage defence under pressure. After 5 minutes an overhead kick from Matt Day was blocked but Taoufik Ben Salem followed up and made it a dream return to the side by thrashing in the opening goal. Sports continued to have the bulk of possession, Swanage’s only attempts coming from two free kicks we conceded around our own box. Neither attempt worried Ashley Knibbs however and Sports were soon pressing up at the other end. Sam Farthing shot over when well placed but in the 21st minute Sports made it two. Rich Hebditch went on a mazy run into the box from the left, cutting in to get the ball on his right foot and then firing a good reverse shot low into the corner. Sports were in total control now but the finishing was wayward. Taoufik Ben Salem shot over with just the keeper to beat, Rich Hebditch followed suit, a Dean Corden effort came off the post after being fumbled by the keeper and Steve McDaid shot a free kick tamely over from the edge of the box. So, at the half time whistle we were only two up despite all the chances, and we hoped we wouldn’t live to regret our generosity in the second half.
As expected, Swanage huffed and puffed a bit after the break but our defence looked pretty solid and defended two or three corners fairly comfortably. Sports were still looking dangerous every time they attacked and on the hour mark the crucial third goal came. The Swanage keeper came haring 35 yards from his goal to try to clear a through ball but was beaten to it by Taoufik Ben Salem who was then clear and he walked the ball into the back of the net. Swanage heads were down now and five minutes later the fourth goal came when a Dean Corden pinpoint cross found Matt Day totally unmarked at the far post and he tapped the ball in from a yard. The floodgates were now open and, with the Swanage defence posted missing, a through ball found Taoufik Ben-Salem in the clear and he thumped a shot over the stranded keeper from about 25 yards to make it 5-0. In the 75th minute another good Westlands passing move saw Rich Lindegaard pick his spot from 12 yards for 6-0. The final nail in Swanage’s coffin came in the 85th minute when Steve Lindegaard exchanges passes with his brother Rich and calmly sidefooted in number seven.
The referee’s final whistle saved Swanage any further misery and ended what was a very good performance from Sports. We looked strong in every department today, including the bench, and the spirit in the team was excellent. This was demonstrated by Sports winger Steve McDaid who drove from a family holiday in St Ives to play in this match, a great show of commitment by Steve and an example to everyone. Looking ahead we have two home games now and we must ensure there is no complacency following this good result.
The main course in our Saturday “Feast of Football” at Alvington was more of a homemade stew than a spicy curry but the result was nevertheless very satisfying. Manager Kevin Leigh made one change to the mix from last week by bringing in Rich Hebditch to add a different flavour up front otherwise it was ‘same again’. Sports had the best of the early exchanges and took the lead in the 12th minute. The Hamworthy keeper flapped at a corner, and from the resulting goalmouth scramble, Stu Smith found the back of the net via a deflection. There was certain inevitability about this game now, and as Sports kept the pressure on the goals looked certain to follow. In the 26th minute Matt Day finished off a lovely passing move by driving the ball low and hard into the corner of the net. Six minutes later it was 3-0. A free kick from the right eluded the Hamworthy defence and Dean Corden came steaming in at the far post to power a header into the back of the net. With a three-goal lead at half time, motivation was obviously going to be a problem in the second half for Sports, while Hamworthy, with nothing to lose, would undoubtedly improve their performance. The game therefore lapsed into a bit of a stalemate after the break. Westlands pushing forward without breaking down the Hamworthy rearguard and similarly Sports defence dealing with anything the opposition could muster. Until the 60th minute, that was, when some slack marking allowed the Hamworthy player to head in a free kick from the right wing. There was still no reason to worry as Hamworthy were not creating any more chances and Sports were generally still controlling the game. With five minutes left on the clock, Steve McDaid put the icing on the cake by knocking a free kick in at the near post with the keeper expecting the cross. That was definitely game over and another good home win for Sports who now face a couple of tricky away fixtures at Weymouth and Swanage.
Bridport has been a happy hunting ground for Sports over the past few seasons so we were hoping for a positive response after last week’s disappointing result. There were a couple of changes in defence with Ashley Powers and Jason Sims replacing Ben Cochrane and Paul Leatherland, the rest was the same as last week. Bridport started the game on the front foot keeping Sports pinned in there own half for the first ten minutes or so. During this spell of pressure Ashley Powers headed a shot off the line but apart from that there was no real scares. Having weathered the initial storm Sports then gradually began to take control of the game and the Bridport goal came under increasing pressure. A goal bound shot was headed off the Bridport line before the deadlock was broken in the 19th minute. Steve McDaid swung in a corner from the right and Andy Smith rose to bullet a header passed the stranded keeper. For the rest of the half Sports were in control but the game got a bit scrappy and niggly and subsequently the quality of football suffered. Just before the break, however, Sports got the second goal. A ball into the box was finished off with a “Henryesque” back heel from Danny Call, a fitting goal to give Sports the comfort of a two-goal lead. There was still time before the half time whistle for Danny to miss the target from 5 yards with a diving header following another cross from the left.
In the second half we were in total control and a couple of early goal scoring chances were created. First Steve McDaid flicked his shot over the bar with only the keeper to beat and Dean Ritchie successfully lobbed the keeper when clean through only to miss the target. Eventually the pressure paid off when Matty Day rose at the far post to power a header into the net for 3-0. Bridport were losing the plot a bit at this point and had a player sent off which made their situation pretty hopeless. The fourth goal came in the 85th minute when Sam Farthing got on the end of a through ball and hooked it past the keeper. That ended a fine performance from Sports, with a good team spirit throughout, and the bonus of a clean sheet into the bargain.
Sports made a couple of changes from the Blandford game. After scoring the winner Dean Ritchie was given a starting berth up front and young Lewis Morgan started in the midfield. From the kick-off it looked as if Parley wanted to win this one. They competed tenaciously for every ball and were soon forcing errors from Sports players. After 12 minutes their commitment paid off when they took the lead. A mistimed tackle by a Sports defender upended the Parley player in the box and the penalty was scored neatly. Sports woke up a bit then and on 18 minutes equalised with a Danny Call tap-in. The game was fairly even after this but after about half an hour the visitors went ahead again. Following a good break an attacker cut in from the right and scored with a good shot.
We hadn’t played well in the first half but knew we could improve so all was not lost as we started the second half with a one goal deficit. Dean Corden was introduced to the Sports line-up for the second half and this soon made a difference. With Dean surging forward from midfield to add some firepower to the attack Parley were soon on the back foot and before long the equaliser came. Danny Call scuffed his shot across the box where it hit a defenders leg and rolled into the back of the net. Back on level terms Sports pushed for the winner but that final bit of composure in the box was just lacking, and the goal would not come. In the end, a draw was just about right, given Parleys good performance on the day.
With Sports trailing 1-0 and only 10 minutes remaining on the clock it was beginning to look like one of those days when, no matter what you do, you cannot put the ball in the back of the net. Then a corner from the left was headed down into the ground and up into the top corner of the net by Andy Smith for the equaliser. It was constant pressure now and with 2 minutes to go, Lewis Morgan slid a nice ball to Dean Ritchie who took a touch and drilled the ball into the far corner of the net for the winner. This was the cue for great celebrations from the relieved Westlands contingent and no more than Sports deserved after dominating the second half. Credit to the players for this result as they stuck to their task and maintained their concentration throughout to gain victory in a match when everything seemed to be going wrong. Sports had opened brightly, controlling the opening exchanges and had several efforts on goal, one effort hitting the bar in a goalmouth melee before being cleared by the Blandford defence. It was the hosts, though, who took the lead in the 40th minute, their giant centre half rising to head home a corner from the right. A bit of a soft goal to lose, surely someone should have been standing on his toes when the cross came in !
In the second half Sports had the bit between their teeth, putting constant pressure on the Blandford goal but with no sign of the breakthrough. Eventually, on the hour mark, Sam Farthing was pulled down in the box and the penalty was given. It was not to be the equaliser we hoped for however, as Matty Day’s spot kick was saved by the keeper. Several shots flew just past the uprights and one effort from Danny Call was cleared off the line with the goalie beaten but still that goal would not come. In 75 minutes a Blandford attacker broke clean through with only the keeper to beat but hit the post with his shot. Had that gone in and made it 2-0 who knows what the outcome would have been, but credit to Sports, they kept at it and eventually came that tremendous last 10 minutes which gave us the points. The most satisfying aspect of the victory was the renewed team spirit evident in that second half when everyone pulled together to ensure the team prevailed in the end.
Saturday 28th August saw Sports first home game of the season due to the drainage work being done on the pitch during the close season. The pitch looked great from a distance but on close inspection the scars of the new drainage vents could be seen running down the pitch. Nevertheless the ground staff had put in a lot of hard work, fertilising, watering and rolling, so credit and thanks to them for producing such a good surface. Cranborne were the visitors and nothing less than a win for Sports would suffice after back to back defeats. It didn’t take long for us to get our noses in front. Six minutes, to be exact, were on the clock when Sam Farthing squared the ball for Danny Call to knock it in for 1-0. Westlands were in control, but for a while the game became a bit of a midfield stalemate until the 33rd minute when we went 2-0 up, Rich Hebditch showing a lot of composure to coolly sidefoot a high looping cross into the net.
That was it at half-time and the second half started again in low key mode with Sports comfortable at 2-0 and Cranborne struggling to make any impression on Sports defence. That was until the 55th minute when after we gave the ball away in midfield, a long ball down the right wing saw our defence outpaced and their forward lobbed the keeper as he came out. We then had to endure 20 minutes of uncertainty, for although Sports were pressing, you always had that uneasy feeling that another breakaway could put them level. In the 75th minute however, all such thoughts were dispelled when the evergreen Andy Smith rose like a salmon to bullet a thumping header past the Cranborne keeper from a corner on the right. A fitting goal to put a damper on any hopes Cranborne had of a fightback.Ten minutes later Rich Hebditch made his contribution a double after the tiring cranborne defence had been opened up and in the 88th minute Sam Farthing made it five after a another good passing move.
A good result for Sports to get them back to winning ways but there are sterner tasks ahead and we hope a collective team effort will now push us on to a good run of results.
There were two changes from the team that disappointed at Holt on Saturday, Rich Hebditch started up front in place of the unavailable Taoufik Ben-Salem and Dean Ritchie came onto the bench for his first league appearance of the season. The rain was lashing down which made the tactics a bit more direct but Sports started pretty well with Rich Hebditch and Danny Call finding a bit of space in attack.It was the hosts who struck first however in the 12th minute whenkeeper Ashley Knibbs failed to hold a well struck free kick and the
Sherborne attacker followed up to score. No blame to the keeper in this instance as the ball was like a bar of soap as it skidded off the wet grass. We kept plugging away at this stage and our perseverance paid off with a deserved equaliser. Rich Hebditch put Danny Call through and he ran on to blast the ball past the keeper. But in a repeat of Saturdays lack of concentration we then proceeded to lose another goal just three minutes after the equaliser. It was a good goal, the ball being laid back for the full back to smash it first time from the edge of the box and it flew into the postage stamp corner. We came back again and a nice passing move left Sam Farthing clear in the box with only the keeper to beat. Sam was then barged from behind and fell flat on his face but no penalty was awarded. Just our luck at the moment, crucial decisions going against us at critical times in games. So, 2-1 it was at half-time and the second period saw Sports try hard to get back in the game but it was Sherborne who struck in the 55th minute with the third goal. Town took advantage of some staticdefending to
get a man clear on the left and his drive found the far corner. With a mountain to climb Sports brought on all their subs and pushed more men forward in a desperate attempt to claw their way back. This of course left us exposed at the back, and with the speedy Caines on for Sherborne, we began to live dangerously. It was no real surprise then when Sherborne put the icing on their cake by scoring the fourth after a disastrous collision between Jason Sims and keeper Ashley Knibbs left the attacker with a tap in. To be fair it could have been five at the end when a glancing header hit the post and was scrambled away. Not a good day for Sports but you don’t become a bad team overnight and we will undoubtedly come again but one wonders if one or two Sports players got a bit carried away after the first two good results. If they did then they should be well and truly back to earth now and I hope fired up for the first home game of the season against Cranborne at Alvington on Saturday.
After Sports good start to the season and two clean sheets, who would have forecast this result ? It certainly didn't look that way in the first half with Sports dominating proceedings and the Holt defence all over the place. After 30 minutes Westlands took the lead. Matt Day burst through into the Holt half and fed a lovely ball to Danny Call who sprinted through and fired past the keeper for the opening goal. Ten minutes later and a crucial moment came when Matt Day was again the provider, firing over a lovely cross for Danny Call to score with a diving header. Unfortunately for the celebrating Westland players the linesman then disallowed the goal for offside. It was a decision that was borderline at best and for the linesman to be absolutely certain in order to chalk off a goal was stretching credibility. The referee had given the goal and there were no protests from the Holt defenders. Unfortunately, this proved to be a pivotal decision which hit Sports hard in two ways. Firstly they allowed their concentration to go and continued to argue with the referee over the decision and every subsequent one from then on. Secondly, the let-off gave the Holt players a real lift and as Sports moaned and groaned they grabbed the initiative, forcing a corner on the left. The cross was headed out to the edge of the box where a Holt player smashed it into the back of the net for the equaliser. We couldn't believe we were only level at this point but worse was to come. In the dying seconds of the half a Holt player burst down the right heading for the bye-line, Ben Cochrane chased him, down went the attacker and the referee pointed to the spot. The Holt player slotted home the penalty and so we went in at the interval 2-1 down in a game we had been controlling for a large portion of the half. The disallowed goal was the talking point during the break and even the Holt supporters behind the goal were not convinced that the scorer was in an offside position when the ball was crossed. But these things happen and with only one goal to pull back and 15 minutes to gather our composure there was no reason why we could not turn this game round.
Those positive thoughts only lasted three minutes into the second half. A Holt forward turned his man, made a yard and smashed an unstoppable shot past Ashley Knibbs into the back of the net. That looked like curtains for Sports as heads went down again and when Holt were awarded a soft free kick just inside our half it certainly was game over. As Westland players argued instead of organising the defence, Holt knocked the free kick forward and scored with ease as defenders were flat footed. At 4-1 we made a couple of substitutions and Rich Hebditch immediately made an impact by attacking the Holt defence and being tripped for a penalty. Sam Farthing took the kick but the keeper poured salt in Sport's wounds by guessing correctly and making the save. That was the last glimmer of hope gone and Holt just made sure by carving open the Sports defence and knocking in goal number five. This was getting embarrassing now but in the last minute Steve Lindegaard fired in a late consolation for Westlands to give the scoreline a slightly better look. In retrospect probably a game best forgotten but the lapses in concentration are a concern for the weeks ahead.
Sports followed up their victory in the opening game of the season by claiming another three points from the visit to Wincanton. There were a couple of changes from friday’s lineup, Steve and Rich Lindegaard, and Rich Hebditch were absentees so Paul Leatherland started the match and Leo Hayward was on the bench. We knew this was always a difficult fixture and our opponents came out determined to stop us playing by putting in maximum effort all over the park. This led to a rather scrappy first half with Westlands having more possession but being foiled in the last third by some dogged defending. It was the hosts, however, who carved out the first good chance. Their centre forward ran onto a long through ball that eluded Ben Cochrane’s jump but he could not get a decent strike on the ball and Ashley Knibbs saved comfortably. At the other end, Taoufik Ben-Salem headed over, and several free kicks and corners were scrambled clear, before the half ended in stalemate.
In the second half it only took four minutes for Sports to take the lead. Paul Leatherland curled in a corner from the right and Ben Cochrane charged in to power an unstoppable header past the stunned Wincanton keeper.This knocked the stuffing out of our opponents and Sports were now in the ascendancy and beginning to pass the ball with confidence. In the 67th minute Matt Day took a quick free kick out on the left which caught the Wincanton defence back on their heels. Danny Call was the first to react, scrambling the ball in after his first effort had been saved by the keeper. Our opponents were out on their feet now and even the introduction of a couple of their subs could not halt the one way traffic, and the Westland attacks were incessant. Eventually, in the 79th minute, the inevitable third goal came. Paul Leatherland thumped a shot goalwards from about 25 yards out which the keeper totally misjudged and Paul’s celebration showed how pleased he was to score against his old club. Kevin Leigh then had the luxury of giving the three subs a run but as Sports relaxed Wincanton were able to mount an attack which ended with a handball in the box and a penalty awarded to our opponents. I have to confess I thought that was our clean sheet gone but Ashley Knibbs proved me wrong with a diving double save from the spot kick. We were able to play out time with no more scares and a 3-0 victory was a good result on the night. So, we have now gained six points from two fixtures which last season yielded only two points from two draws so we are on the right track.
Friday the thirteenth was unlucky for Sturminster Newton as they came up against a strong Westlands team determined to get their season off to a good start. Sports team showed a few changes from last season, a completely new attacking pair of Taoufik Ben-Salem and Rich Hebditch getting the nod up front. Rich Lindegaard returned to the midfield after a season out, Jason Sims was promoted from the reserves to start at the back, and Ashley Knibbs was between the sticks. On the bench, two new faces were Paul Leatherland, a recent signing from Wincanton, and 16 year-old ex-Yeovil Town youth team player Lewis Morgan. Those of us with long memories remember a poor display on this ground last August which cost us two points and valuable early ground in the race for the league title so we were hoping for a better performance this time round. Any fears were quickly put to bed, however, by Sports total dominance of the early exchanges. Stur were battling hard but could not get out their own half and their goal was under severe pressure with the keeper making a couple of good early saves. In the 20th minute the stalemate was broken when the ball fell to Steve McDaid on the edge of the box and he drilled a low left foot shot into the corner of the net. Westlands were in total control and in the 35th minute Taoufik Ben-Salem showed great tenacity to get to the byeline and his cross found Matt Day totally unmarked to head in at the far post. Several more chances came Sports way but they could not add to their tally and Stur turned round only 2-0 down at the break which was a bit of a result for them.
But there was no let up for our hosts after the interval as Sports continued to dominate in every department. Six minutes in and Andy Smith was pushed over in the box, giving Sam Farthing the opportunity to score from the spot. Another six minutes and goal number four came when Rich Hebditch converted following a good Westlands move. Manager Kevin Leigh then had the luxury of giving three of his subs a run out and Paul Leatherland, Danny Call and Steve Lindegaard came on in place of Ben Cochrane, Rich Hebditch and Matt Day. Paul Leatherland was first to catch the eye with a rasping shot from 20 yards that stung the keeper's hands. At 4-0 down, Sturminster then had their best spell of the match with a few foreys into Westlands half and during this spell Ashley Knibbs was called on to make his first save of the game which he did with comparative ease. Nevertheless, Sports always looked liable to add to their tally at any time, and in the 86th minute Taoufik Ben-Salem was put clean through and he coolly lobbed the keeper to deservedly get his name on the scoresheet after a hardworking display by the striker. So, five goals in the bag for Sports and a clean sheet into the bargain has got to be a great start to the season and we look forward to building on this in the weeks to come. For Sturminster Newton, well, it could be a long hard campaign for them but hopefully they will stick at it as they showed good spirit right to the end which must be a positive thing for them. Meanwhile we move on to another away fixture at Wincanton on Tuesday night where we will probably have to up the ante if we are to bag another three points.
After last weeks committed performance we were hoping we could get back on the rails and take a big step to securing runners up spot. A lack of players proved to be the first issue with our one and only sub pulling out in the morning, however with replaced him with Nat Carney from the U16’s who performed admirably when he was called upon.
With the absence of Henry Bond we reorganised again but still had a very good starting eleven, and we kicked off in what appeared to be a confident mood. Unfortunately it became evident that several of them didn’t appear to want to play. Consequently this allowed the opposition into the game and their confidence grew. This was compounded after ten minutes when Dan Newens picked up a bad foot injury and was replaced by a nervous looking Nat. Dave Evans slotted into the centre of defence with Sam Beard and both performed well. Shortly after Parley opened the scoring, a poor goal kick fell to the striker 30 yards out who promptly thumped it back over Alex’s head into the net, thats just about our luck at the moment! Five minutes later things worsened Matt Jackson fell awkwardly on his hand, had his fingers strapped up, and played on in quite bit of pain. Ironically amongst all the chaos in patches we played quite well and fought our way back into the game. Ant Herrin put a free kick onto the top of the net, Haydn Binding forced a couple of good efforts goal wards and Sam Beard had an effort disallowed for an infringement on the goal keeper who had flattened Nat following a Tom Salter free kick. In amongst all of this Haydn’s persistence forced a poor headed clearance to Matt who headed it back over the keeper. So after all that one one at half time and all to play for.
Unfortunately we didn’t collectively show enough desire in the second half and it was Parley who forced their noses in front with half an hour to go and effectively wrapped the game up ten minutes later, both were good finishes but in all honesty we allowed them into the danger area to easily. In fairness we kept trying to go forward and created a few half chances but our desire to get back and make tackles was sadly lacking.
In order to get the runners up spot we now need a favour from Shaftesbury, but we also need a team of players who want to fight for that position.
Sunday 20th March 2011,
WAREHAM 1 WESTLAND SPORTS 0
Over the years this has been a tough game for us and more often or not has been settled by the odd goal in our favour. After the previous couple of results and the unavailability of some key players we went back to basics and asked the lads to work hard for each other and enjoy it. This they did and both teams played their part in what turned out to be an exciting and enjoyable game.
The first half was very even with both teams having opportunities, most of Wareham's came from their long throw which we dealt with well. The return from the wilderness of Henry Bond helped Dan Newens and Sam Beard minimise the dodgy moments. At the other end there were good openings for Matt, Dave Evans and Jake Hobbs but at half-time it remained goalless.
We started slowly in the second half and allowed Wareham to control the game. 15 minutes in and their pressure eventually told when they took the lead following a few fortunate bounces. It then looked like they were going to push on but following a fantastic double save from Alex Watts we got back into the game and pashed for the equaliser. We had to reorganise when Jake Hobbs took a bang to the head, but Max went to fullback and performed really well. For the final 20 minutes we really pushed had several cleared off the line but couldn’t force that elusive goal and eventually fell to our third consecutive one nil defeat.
Sunday 13th March 2011,
WESTLAND SPORTS 0 POOLE TOWN WESSEX 1
Following last weeks cup defeat it was back to league action and our pursuit of the top spot in the league. With Sam Carney missing through injury we re-organised our formation and for the second game running we had no referee !
It turned out to be a very lack lustre first half, a lot of puff, not much thought and a lack of desire. In fact the opposition showed far more desire and organisation and after fifteen minutes scored the only goal of the game with a speculative lob from the edge of the box. This only served for to raise our effort levels but unfortunately not our quality and apart from one clear opportunity for Tom Salter just before half time we never really threatened the opponents goal.
The change of ends didn’t bring a change to the performance it carried on with very little goal mouth action. An injured Jacob Bromfield was replaced with Charlie Gay early in the second half the increased pace unsettled our opponents and we had several half chances, the best of which fell to Dan Newens who somehow managed to head the ball backwards from under the bar before colliding with the post. Jake Hobbs then injured an ankle and Jordy Reeves came on for the last 30 minutes and promptly had a left foot volley cleared off the line. Unfortunately for him shortly after he came off worse in a 50 50 challenge, which saw him carried off with what turned out to be a broken leg. We wish him well for a speedy recovery and hope to see him back training next year. This left us having to play the last 15 minutes with ten men and to be fair we didn’t do too bad. We kept pushing looking for an opening and probably deserved to get a point, but it was not to be, and towards the end we were grateful to Alex Watts who made a couple of great blocks.
There were signs of our fighting spirit returning towards the end and with it will come the football. Lets hope we can pull together for the last 4 league games and the League Cup, get back to playing well and above all enjoy it. For a lot of us, management and players, this started 9 years ago and particularly for Paul’s sake we should endeavour to make sure we finish the season on a high.
27/2/11 CHICKERELL UTD 2 WESTLAND SPORTS 4
After a two week break it was good to get back to playing or so we thought. We arrived keen and ready to go albeit with a few of our familiar faces missing. As we approached kick off it was apparent that the ref wasn’t going to arrive, following a few frantic calls it was agreed between the two teams to play the game and Paul Bromfield was volunteered to referee. We eventually started half an hour late and all enthusiasm for the game seemed to have disappeared from both teams.
We started off kicking uphill and within five minutes Ant Herrin had put us in front with a well worked goal following some good work between Haydn Binding and Tom Salter. We continued to dominate and within twenty minutes were two up with an exquisite chip from the impressive Jordan Reeves. Unfortunately that was as good as it got because instead of pushing on and boosting our goal difference we played our poorest football for several years. We slowed the game to walking pace and stopped using the wings. The passing became sloppy and our football had no quality what so ever. Our opponents came into the game and started to be a threat forcing Alex Watts to make several sharp stops, before the bar came to our rescue just before half time.
The half time chat appeared to have little or no effect as we appeared switch off totally in the second half and it was no surprise when the lone Chickerell forward pulled a goal back mid way through the half. This sparked a bit of life into our game and a couple of quick goals by Ant and Haydn fifteen minutes from time gave the impression we would kick up another gear, but none of it we promptly allowed the opposition to go straight back up the other end and score a second. Thankfully the game fizzled out with no more action at either end and we came away with our three points, not a great spectacle for the crowd.
Next week we move onto the cup semi with the Colts, lets hope we can perform to a much higher level otherwise it won’t be much of a contest.
6/2/11 SHAFTESBURY 2 WESTLAND SPORTS 0
Since our 6-2 win a fortnight ago this was probably the most important game of our season to date. A win would have put the league in our hands and defeat leaves our opponents in pole position with us hoping for favours from elsewhere.
We started the game kicking up hill into a howling gale on a pitch that was lumpy to say the least, which didn’t really allow us to play our normal passing game. The opposition, looking for revenge, were straight into the game taking control and overwhelming our midfield, fortunately our defensive unit and goalkeeper were on their game and were able to repel the constant attacks. We managed to restrict the opposition to a series of corners and not allow too many direct attempts on goal, but it was from the corners that they were particularly dangerous bringing several good and one outstanding save from Alex Watts. As the half wore on we came more into the game as we understood that this was a day for getting goal side and battling our way to a result and not waiting for the opposition to give it to us. For all Shaftesbury’s pressure we did create two very good chances, a one on one for Charlie Gay who rolled it past the far post and an Ant Herrin chip from the edge of the box that cleared the keeper but was headed off the line by the defender. Credit where credit is due thanks to our defending we did manage to get to half time at 0-0.
Dan Newens had to be replaced by Henry Bond due to injury and illness meant Jake Hobbs had to replace Jacob Bromfield ten minutes into the second half. We started to get the upper hand in the second half and use the conditions well but couldn’t find a goal. Several times we beat the keeper but not the defender on the line. It was going to take something special today and unfortunately that came from Shaftesbury when the right winger volleyed in the opening goal from the edge of the box mid way through the half. This didn’t stop us we carried on trying, creating several openings one of which fell to Ant who failed to convert when clean through.We continued to push forward until the end but it was not to be and right at the death Shaftesbury broke away and scored a second with virtually the last kick of the game.
Yes we lost but we have proved over the two games that we have bridged the gap that was between the two teams last season, however it is frustrating that it took us so long to get into today’s game. We know the pitch was poor but we allowed it to affect our quality and give our opponents the upper hand. The important thing now is we make sure we win our remaining six games to keep the pressure on Shaftesbury.
30/1/11 BOURNEMOUTH SPORTS 0 WESTLAND SPORTS 4
Last weeks fantastic result against Shaftesbury came at a cost and we travelled to Bournemouth without our two injured centre halves and no goalkeeper. However Sam Beard volunteered to go between the sticks and although injured performed extremely well making several notable saves. The centre half positions were filled with Henry Bond and Jake Hobbs whose performances proved we have real strength in depth. In order to provide Sam with as much protection as possible we changed the shape in midfield and only played with one upfront, unfortunately the change of shape meant that Tom Salter had to drop to the bench even though he has been turning in some great performances of late.
Bournemouth are a young team who like to play good passing football and the game started in a very open fashion with both teams looking for the opening goal. Through Charlie Gay and Ant Herrin we created several good chances for Matt Jackson but a mixture of good goal keeping and poor finishing meant the score stayed goalless. Unfortunately Matt can’t buy a goal for us at the moment however on 25 minutes he showed his battling qualities when he seized upon a poor throw from the keeper, held off the defender and rolled the ball across the box for Charlie to side foot us in front. This really opened up the game for the next 15 minutes and were it not for an excellent stop from Sam Beard Bournemouth would have been level, but just as we looked in danger of conceding a long cross field ball from Haydn Binding found Charlie Gay who cracked a looping left footed volley over the keeper and into the net. This knocked the stuffing out of the opposition and we comfortably saw out the five minutes to half time.
An inspired half time talk sent Bournemouth back out with all guns blazing and for 15 minutes we hardly got out of our own half, although defensively we looked solid and held out quite comfortably but we were dropping deeper and deeper. Tom Salter came on for an injured Charlie Gay, who again had done an excellent job, and we reverted to four four two, which meant when we did get the ball up to Matt Jackson we were able to keep it there and play further up the pitch. Within minutes the outstanding Sam Carney waltzed through a couple of challenges on the edge of the box and coolly put us three up. This put us in total control and we should have created far more opportunities in the last 20 minutes but couldn’t deliver the final pass. Jordan Reeves replaced Matt Jackson for what we thought was the final quarter of the game, this allowed Max Harrington to go up front and grab himself a goal with a good turn and shot from the edge of the box.Then for some unknown reason the ref blew up seven minutes early but we were more than happy with the victory and the three points.
The victory puts us top of the table, can we stay there? Well that will be down to the squad sticking together and working hard for each other.
23/1/11 WESTLAND SPORTS 6 SHAFTESBURY 2
With Shaftesbury winning the league and cup double last year we went into the game wondering whether we had bridged the gap between the two teams. We had a full strength squad to pick from and not much motivation was needed from the management.
We started the game well organised, the sharpness was back and no sign of being intimidated by our opponents, unlike last year. Surprisingly Shaftesbury looked a bit shocked by our application and determination and it was no surprise when we surged into a two goal lead in the first 15 minutes. The first coming from a break down the left hand side by Charlie Gay who delivered a great cross, which was dummied by Matt Jackson, allowing the unmarked Tom Salter to finish. The second was delivered from the right hand side and the ball was eventually fed to Ant Herrin who chipped it back over the keeper into the far corner. Two nil up and in control of the game but we still had to remain alert defensively, a lot of niggly fouls broke up the flow of the game although we managed to keep good control of our discipline. It was from one of these fouls, out on the left hand side, that Jacob Bromfield managed to bend the ball into the net at the far post. A shot or cross who knows but it put us three up after 30 minutes, however it didn’t kill off our opponents. To their credit they had a real go before half time and almost managed to get back in it with the last kick of the half, when Alex Watts made a fantastic save low down to his right.
“More of the same please in the second half” was the subject of the half time talk and to a point that was what happened, however predictably we did take our foot off the gas and allow the opposition back into the game. When we did keep the ball down and moving we looked a match for anybody, a cracking finish by Dave Evans gave us a fourth before Shaftesbury pulled one back with a 30 yard screamer. Back down the other end and Ant Herrin added a second with a good strike from outside the box and Charlie Gay made it six when finishing off an excellent team move with the key run and pass coming from Max Harrington. Shortly before the end Shaftesbury grabbed another to show they hadn’t given up to make the final score 6 – 2.
A great squad performance throughout giving us a fantastic result to set us up for the rest of the season, however one result doesn’t win you anything but it was a great feeling. Defensively we looked strong with the keeper and back four providing a strong base to work from, allowing the rest of the team to play freely.
16/1/11 WIMBORNE TOWN 1 WESTLAND SPORTS 3
We arrived at the ground minus our goalkeeper who was taken ill overnight and as per last season Haydn Binding proved to be a more than adequate replacement.
We kicked off down the hill but into an extremely strong wind which threatened to ruin the game. However after the early frantic exchanges we started to get the ball on the ground and began to play some nice football, as did the opposition, creating some very good openings. Throughout the half chances came and went particularly for Ant Herrin, but also for Jacob Bromfield, Matt Jackson and Tom Salter. After 20 minutes the rain started and never stopped making the surface particularly slippery. Our defence was strong and played well until a mix up between Sam Beard and Jake Hobbs just before half-time gifted the ball to the Wimborne striker who nipped in and gave Haydn no chance. One nil down at half time which was not just reward for our first half efforts.
The second half continued with the same pattern, we had a good grip on the game but could not create any clear cut chances. The conditions and the heavy pitch were beginning to take their toll on the opposition as we pushed them deeper and deeper. Charlie Gay was introduced 10 minutes into the half and mid way through the half it was Jacob Bromfield who got the break through with what can only be described as a high looping cross which dipped in under the bar, however there was nothing lucky about his stunning left foot drive from 20 yards which put us in front 5 minutes later. With both full backs injured Henry Bond came on for the final 20 minutes and Max Harrington slotted into left back to support a defence that never looked in trouble, Haydn hardly had a shot to deal with throughout the half. Charlie started putting a tired defence on the rack and thought he had scored 10 minutes from time only for it to be ruled out for offside. He wasn’t to be denied and finished off a fine team move to make it 3-1 in the last minute.
DORSET YOUTH CUP, Qtr-Final (U18)
9/1/11 DORCHESTER MAGPIES 1 WESTLAND SPORTS 2
Not having had a game since the end of November it was a welcome return to action for a full strength squad, but as Alan Lamont will testify neither side really provided an entertaining game for the spectators. However the aim of the game was to get through and progress to the semi-final which we managed to do.
Fortunately most of the lads have been playing for the reserves or the college so fitness wasn’t really the issue, but the quality and sharpness expected were not really evident.
We started the game well and were rewarded with a penalty inside the first two minutes, the normally reliable Haydn raced forward to take it only to see it well saved by the keeper. We then proceeded to boss the game without creating many clear cut chances. The dangerous Tom Salter was put through mid way through the half and shot dangerously across the keeper and just past the far post, but made no mistake from and identical move on the half hour. The opposition kept the defence on their toes with some neat football down the hill and on the one occasion when they did break through Alex was alert enough to make a great block.
One nil up at half time and looking comfortable but Dorchester had a real go for the first ten minutes of the second half, but thanks to some solid defending the back four and keeper played really well as a unit. The game opened up and we started to create some really good openings with both Tom and Charlie Gay thwarted by the keeper. Eventually Matt Jackson bundled in a Tom Salter mishit shot and at two nil we looked home and dry. With 25 minutes to go Dorchester were having none of it and gave it a good go. They were rewarded with a goal fifteen minutes from time when we switched off at a throw in however they were unable to threaten us again and in truth we should have restored our two goal lead.
DORSET YOUTH CUP, Rnd 2 (U18)
7/11/10 TWYNEHAM RANGERS 1 WESTLAND SPORTS 13
We made the 60 mile trip to Christchurch not really knowing what to expect from our 3rd division opponents. Due to an injury on Saturday Max Harrington didn’t make the trip, but on a positive note we welcomed Sam Carney back into our depleted squad of 12. We asked for the lads to stamp their authority on the game early on, keep a high tempo and maintain good quality. Less than 20 minutes later we were 4-0 up, the first coming in under a minute, and the game was effectively over. The game went quiet for a period when we let our levels drop, but following some gentle persuasion from the touchline we started to pass the ball around again and added a further 4 goals in the fifteen minute period up to halftime.
So 8-0 up at half time, 5 for Charlie Gay and 3 for Matt Jackson, what to do now? Sam Beard offered to play in goal, Alex Watts played in midfield and Ant Herrin played surprisingly well at centre back along with the ever reliable Dan Newens.
We proceeded to dominate the second half like the first and added further goals through Haydn Binding, Dave Evans, Tom Salter, Alex Watts and sixth for Charlie before the opposition added one with a blinding strike right on the final whistle to complete the scoring.
We now move onto a tricky away league fixture at Chickerell where I am sure we will face stiffer opposition, but we achieved our objective today by reaching the quarter final.
31/10/10 STOURPAINE 0 WESTLAND SPORTS 3
We kicked off in a very positive mood and straight away took control of the game, making it difficult for the opposition to even get a touch of the ball let alone keep it. However for all of our dominance we struggled to create any clear cut chances. The Stourpaine keeper was really comfortable plucking crosses out of the air and along with several good blocks it looked like it could be one of those days, but after 20 minutes we eventually got our deserved break through. The impressive Haydn Binding drove down the right and threaded a great ball through to Max Harrington who eventually forced it under the keeper. Rather than settle us down it spurred our opponents to really take the game to us for the remainder of the half, but a mixture of good defending and several smart stops from Alex Watts got us to half time protecting our slender lead.
We regrouped and changed the shape a bit and started the second half much like the first only this time we were making good chances, but unfortunately not taking any. There was always the worry that the one goal wasn’t going to be enough, but around the hour mark 2 goals in 5 minutes effectively won the game. First Charlie Gay pounced on a misplaced goal kick and returned it with interest pass the keeper into the far corner, and then Dave Evans pounced on a headed clearance just outside the edge of the box and hammered a volley into the back of the net. Although we didn’t add further to the score we continued to create opportunities and play good football, defending stoutly when required.
Another welcome three points earned and a second clean sheet in a row sets us up nicely for our county cup trip to Christchurch next week.
24/10/10 WESTLAND SPORTS 3 CHICKERELL UTD 0
With Dave Evans , Sam Carney and Charlie Gay all missing we again demonstrated our strength in depth and managed to gain a comfortable win without too many alarms. Dan Newens and Hadyn Binding were welcomed back into the starting line up and we proceeded to start brightly taking control of the game with good passing football. Half chances were created but poor control or poor final balls failed to create clear cut openings and in fact it was the odd breakaway from the visitors that looked the more likely to break the deadlock, until on 33 minutes Tom Salter was upended in the box following a great through ball from Haydn. Haydn converted from the resultant penalty and we finished the half 1-0.
We started the second half much as the first only this time Tom Salter created a great chance which Max Harrington converted within the first five minutes. We proceeded to create several more chances over the next 10 minutes but could not find that elusive third goal. With 30 minutes to go both Lewis Gullis and Matt Burt were introduced. This seemed to be the signal for us to take our foot off of the gas and revert to a long ball game. This allowed Chickerell to work their way back into the game and with a bit more luck they could have pinched a goal to set up an interesting last 15 minutes. However it was Westlands who had the last say when Matt Burt smashed in a wonder shot from 20 yards to complete the scoring in the last minute. A satisfactory result and performance, but we are still not firing on all cylinders, however you can never complain with a clean sheet.
17/10/10 WESTLAND SPORTS 4 BOURNEMOUTH SPORTS 1
We went into the game with four of our regular squad missing due to injury and demonstrated that we have got good strength in depth. Once again the chairman was called on to referee the game and as usual kept good control. Unusually for us we started very brightly, passing the ball around well and took control of the game creating several half chances. So it was no surprise after ten minutes when Max Harrington got away from his marker on the right hand side with a clever turn and firmly planted the ball in the net. This didn’t deter the opposition who created several good opportunities, but just lacked the finishing touch, in what was turning into a very entertaining game. Twenty minutes in and a well worked free kick between Max and Dave Evans resulted in Dave firing in the second goal from a tight angle. Far from giving us control of the game it inspired our opposition to dominate the final fifteen minutes of the first half, and they were rewarded with a simple goal from a free kick when our defence switched off from their marking duties.
So 2-1 at half time and game on, the next goal would be vital, fortunately it was scored by us. Five minutes into the half Matt Jackson got through one on one with the keeper, thanks to some good battling by Tom Salter, and squeezed the ball under the keeper. Ten minutes later it was 4-1 with the best goal of the game when Dave Evans coolly rounded the keeper to finish off a move that went from one end of the pitch to the other. The remainder of the game was played out without too many threats on the Westland goal as the defence, well marshalled by Henry Bond, looked a lot tighter in the second half. Great games by both Ant Herrin and Dave Evans in midfield always meant we were in the game if not totally in charge. The opposition played some nice neat football and the 4-1 score line probably flattered us a little bit.
DORSET YOUTH CUP (U18) RND 1
3/10/10 DORCHESTER RAIDERS 1 WESTLAND SPORTS 2
After the overnight deluge we arrived to find the pitch in perfect condition, however there was some confusion about the ref allowing the game to take place when the opposition tried to sign on four players on the day. Eventually the ref was persuaded and we agreed to play and sort out the legalities afterwards. We proceeded to open the game with some good posession football and were well in control of the match. For all the dominance we didn't seem to be able to quicken the pace in the last third and create some clear cut chances. Plenty of half chances but not the care and quality required with the final ball. So no surprise when Dorchester had their one attack of the half and following a few minor mistakes were awarded a penalty which was coolly despatched. One nil down at half time but playing reasonably well.
Our dominance continued in the second half but now our opponents had something to hang onto and they did a pretty good job. 10 minutes into the half Charlie Gay replaced the disappointing Sam Carney, and we reverted to 4 4 2. Within 10 minutes of the change Dave Evans looped a shot in from the edge of the box, and Charlie produced a smart finish from around the penalty spot. We carried on controlling the rest of the match and played out the game without too many concerns.
Safely through to the next round however we need to get our attitude, concentration and start playing for 90 minutes if we are serious about going all of the way in this competition.
19/9/10 POOLE TOWN WESSEX 2 WESTLAND SPORTS 4
We arrived at Turlin Moor with a squad of 14, a late injury to Charlie Gay meant a first call up of the season for Matt Burt. The pitch was flat, not much grass and very sandy so probably good to visit early on in the season especially as the changing rooms were out of order. A change of formation saw us line up with four at the back this week and what a difference to the football. Right from the start we passed and moved the ball quickly throughout the team and took the game to the opposition. Dave Evans and Dan Newens quickly took control of the centre on the park giving opportunities to wide men Tom Salter and Ant Herrin to get down the flanks with excellent support from full backs Jake Hobbs and Haydn Binding. Early chances came and went but we didn’t have to wait long when on 15 minutes Dave Evans surged through the centre of the park and smashed the ball in from the edge of the box. Five minutes later Dan Newens stooped to head in a corner at the far post. We kept a firm grip on the game and continued to dominate. On 30 minutes Matt Jackson out jumped both the keeper and centre half to head the ball against the bar and was first to react to shin in the rebound, and Max Harrington capped a fine first half with a long range effort that went through the keeper shortly before half time. Apart from the two bookings for Haydn and Ant for bad language it was an excellent 45 minutes, some great football and four nil up. An enforced injury change at halftime saw Jake replaced with Matt Burt forcing the impressive Tom Salter to play at left back. Not surprisingly we took our foot off the gas and slowly allowed Poole Town back into the game, but not before we created some more great chances. Fair play to the opposition they scrambled a goal from a corner and added a second following a miss kick which looked like it would lead to an interesting last fifteen minutes. However we got our concentration and shape back together and comfortably held out until the end. All in all a good three points away from home with some sparkling football in the first half which we will need to repeat next weekend against Shaftesbury.
12/9/10 WESTLAND SPORTS 1 PARLEY SPORTS 1
Things started well, perfect pitch, great weather and a strong squad......it didn’t take long to go downhill first the opposition were late, stuck in traffic at Sturminster, and then the ref never turned up. Thankfully our ever reliable chairman saved the day and took control of the game. We eventually started 15 minutes late and it was Parley who had the upper hand, they were quicker and sharper all over the pitch fortunately their final ball wasn’t quite so good.15 minutes into the game and Parley scored what they would call a well worked goal and what we called very poor defending, and if it wasn’t for some excellent work from Alex Watts they would have had several more before half time. In fact it was Westland who grabbed the equaliser on 25 minutes Henry Bond won a strong header on the half way line, Matt Jackson beat the centre half and the on rushing goalkeeper to the ball and lobbed it in from 25 yards. Great I thought maybe we can now start to play how wrong I was. We carried on moving the ball slowly, taking too many touches, trying to beat the extra man and not playing with enough width. All of which was highlighted at half-time.
We were slightly better in the second half and probably should have pinched the win with great late chances falling to Dan Newens, Haydn Binding and a very quiet Charlie Gay, but it just wasn’t our day. At the other end Alex made several more excellent stops to keep us in the game so all in all a draw seemed to be a fair result in what turned out to be a real battle. Plenty for us to work on in training before we travel to Poole next weekend.
5/9/10 GILLINGHAM TOWN 0 WESTLAND SPORTS 5
At long last we get to the start of the season with an improved squad and hot competition for places. We started the game kicking downhill on what for us was a small pitch, the passing was crisp and accurate forcing Gillingham to spend the first 20 minutes camped in their own half. However for all of the domination we couldn’t force the ball into the net. The lack of a good final ball, poor composure in front of goal and some good defensive blocks kept the scores level. Eventually after 30 minutes we finally got a clear cut chance when Charlie Gay was put through and coolly rolled the ball through the keepers legs, 5 minutes later Haydn Binding cut in from the left hand side and smashed the ball into the net making it 2-0 at half-time.
Playing uphill in the second half suited us giving us more space to get in behind them, however much like the first half we did all the hard work but couldn’t find the finishing touch. The introduction of Jake Hobbs and Tom Salter kept the pressure on down the flanks and Matt Jackson eventually sliced one into the corner of the net and quickly followed it up with a good second following good work from Jake. Following a serious injury which reduced the opposition down to 10 men the game drifted to a conclusion during which Henry Bond capped a fine debut with the final goal from a corner.
So 5-0 the final score and a good start to the season, yes it could have been more, but overall we played well and demonstrated that we have good strength in depth which makes team selection difficult.
DORSET LEAGUE YOUTH DIVISION 2 (U18)
5/9/10 WESTLAND COLTS 3 PORTLAND UNITED 0
A wind-assisted first half saw the Colts totally dominate their visitors from Portland. Several chances were made and squandered before Jake Wolfe eventually opened the scoring with a good shot. Still it was one-way traffic and eventually Lewis Morgan made it two with a good shot on the turn. It should really have been "how many" at this stage but the opposition didn't let their heads go down and battled through to half time at 2-0. In the second half, although Portland, with the wind in their favour, made a better game of it, Colts were still the dominant side and a Peter Ireland goal in the 65th minute sealed the result. Hard to guage the standard of the league from just one game but early indications are we can do well if keeping up this performance and adding a bit of composure in front of goal.
WESTLAND SPORTS RESERVES
2nd Oct 2010, Yeovil & District League Premier Div,
WESTLAND SPORTS RES 3 MILBORNE PORT 2
A clash between two unbeaten sides in the Premier Division looked like being a close encounter and so it was in the end, with Sports edging it by the odd goal in five. Westlands took control from the kick-off, and with Phil Wells and Haydn Binding combining well down the left, they kept Milborne pegged back in their own half. After 5 minutes of constant Sports pressure the opener came. Phil Wells drove a free kick into the box and Ant Herrin stooped to direct a glancing header into the net. Sports were rampant at this stage and 3 minutes later Leo Hayward latched on to a Charlie Gay through ball and calmly lobbed the keeper to make it 2-0. Charlie himself should have scored when he scooped a chance over from 5 yards and numerous other good chances were squandered before half time. Two-nil at the break was a good result but did not reflect Westlands superiority and we hoped they would not rue these missed chances. After the half time interval Milborne came more into the game but were very susceptible to Sports pace up front and in the 55th minute they were undone again. A through ball from Sam Gibbs put Leo Hayward clear and he calmly rounded the keeper before netting. At 3-0 Sports should have put the game to bed but some tactical switches seemed to upset the rythm and Milborne suddenly began to find some space up front and began to threaten the Sports goal for the first time. On 65 minutes they pulled one back when some slack marking allowed the forward time and space to slot home. With Sports midfield now almost non-existant Milborne were taking control of the game and the cat was well and truly amongst the pigeons in the 80 minute when they scored a good header from a corner to make it 3-2. Once again Sports marking was all over the place giving the Milborne player a free header. With still 10 minutes to go we were up against it, but some poor finishing by Milborne cost them their chance of a point and we held on to win the three points. On reflection, the last two games, both at home, have ended in 3-2 victories but both wins have been gained in different circumstances. Last week against Keinton Mandeville, Sports were casual in their approach and after an hour found themselves 2-0 down. To their credit they applied themselves and came back to win. This week an impressive first hour saw us 3-0 up but the subsequent switch-off could have cost us the game. On the evidence of these displays Sports are a match for anybody when they are in full flow, some of the football is a joy to watch, all they need to do now is turn it on for the full 90 minutes !
24th Aug 2010, YEOVIL & DISTRICT LEAGUE PREMIER DIV
HENSTRIDGE UTD 3 WESTLAND SPORTS RES 5
Entertaining game, we started very brightly putting them under pressure right from kick off and were one up within 10 minutes when striker Charlie Gay latched onto a through ball and slotted it past their keeper. Unfortunately, within about 3 minutes it was 1-1 when they scored from a good free kick which gave our keeper had no chance. Then 10 minutes later Leo Hayward scored a cracker following good work from Haydn Binding down the wing. He beat 3 players then crossed the ball into the box and Leo was on hand to volley home from about 10 yards to make it 2-1. But five minutes later they levelled again through some bad defending from a corner. Their player had a free header at the far post to level the scores. Just before half time we made it 3-2 with another goal from Charlie Gay. The lads had a bit of a grilling at half time about the defending in the first half but when they started after the interval we scored again within 10 minutes through Leo Hayward to make it 4-2. At this point it looked as though the game was ours but give credit to Henstridge they never gave up and when they scored a third goal due to another piece of bad defending, it was ‘game on’ again. They pushed for an equaliser but we caught them on the break and Charlie Gay raced away again to complete his hat-trick. That’s 2 hat-tricks in 2 games for Charlie and he is showing real promise for the future. Manager Matt Turner said after the game “Overall I’m very happy with the result as it is never easy when you play Henstridge and I’m proud of the lads performance”.
24th Aug 2010, Hospital Cup Rnd 2,
HENSTRIDGE UTD 2 WESTLAND SPORTS RES 1
Westlands young side were knocked out of the Hospital Cup by Henstridge Utd in a close fought 2nd Rnd tie at Henstridge Airfield. Sports fielded two 16 and four 17 year-olds against a seasoned Henstridge outfit and, at the end of the day, this lack of experience may have led to their downfall. The reserves were also asked to play in a different formation, changing their normal 4-4-2 to a more fluid system with wing backs to replicate the current first team formation. It looked as if the Westland lads were still reading the script in the second minute when a Henstridge forward was allowed to run through a static defence and score an easy opening goal. A soft goal to lose and one that was to be crucial as the match unfolded. To be fair, Sports took control after this and their passing game was keeping possession well and pinning Henstridge in their own half. A lovely through ball from Lewis Morgan put Charlie Gay clean through but with only the keeper to beat he scuffed his shot wide of the target. Some stout defending was keeping Westlands at bay but after 30 minutes the deserved equaliser came. Ant Herrin fed Lewis Morgan on the edge of the box and he volleyed a strong shot into the far corner of the net to crown a super passing move which saw the ball moved patiently from player to player. Sports continued to press for the rest of the half although one breakaway saw a Henstridge attacker drag his shot wide from a good position.
The second half started with Henstridge on the front foot, pushing forward in a good 15 minute spell that was crowned with the winning goal. Sports new formation may have been to blame as a Henstridge forward was left unmarked to score easily. Having got their noses in front, Henstridge then retreated into their shell and with massed ranks along the edge of their box, challenged Sports to break them down. Unfortunately, although having constant pressure we did not seem to have the necessary guile to prise open an experienced defence and our patient passing style was not utilising our pace up front. However, we have seen Premiership sides on TV have the same problem so there is no easy answer to these things. Westlands best chance was a shot which beat the keeper but was cleared off the line by a covering defender. Jake Russell did have the ball in the net but was flagged for offside, but in all honesty we never really put the Henstridge keeper under too much pressure and one has to admire their determined defensive performance. So, congratulations and good luck to Henstridge and commiserations to our lads who will improve on this performance when the league action starts next month.