A trip to Clapham to face an experienced side who dropped down from Division 1 last season. Last minute preparations to the pitch, lines being marked, goal posts put up and dog mess removed whilst the away side warmed up.
The game got underway with the home side slightly on top, the away team understandably looking a little short on confidence after three successive defeats. Clapham looked stronger in midfield, first to most 50/50’s and stronger in the challenge. Clapham were causing some problems but not really threatening to score, in fact their first chance came off a sliced clearance, that had Hayden diving away to his right to prevent a certain own goal. They then created a great chance, but fired over from a good position. Hurricanes were gradually finding a way in the game, Louie sent through by Benji, coming in from the left, a slightly tight angle, he scuffed his shot just wide of the post. Hurricanes were now more than in the game, they looked a threat to the opposition, Joseph wriggled free of his marker and slid Louie in, his starting position was behind Joseph and two defenders, this time he smashed past the ‘keeper, but a late flag went up for offside, it was unfortunately for the away side, a very poor decision. Jordan came close to opening his account for the team, a scramble from a corner, his stabbed shot hit the post.
Benji then had a excellent opportunity, free in the box, he went for power over precision, the ‘keeper pushing on the bar, the away should really have been 2/3 goals up by this point. Louie not having the greatest luck at the moment, wriggled past his marker and in to box, the defender first pulled him back by the arm, then when he slipped free decided a full pull on his shirt would stop him, and so it did, as clear a penalty as you will see, however the Referee didn’t think so and waved play on. Luck isn’t with the away side at the moment, and Clapham took the lead just before half time against the run of play, a missed header in midfield, a mix up in defence and the home striker nipped in to score 1-0. Clapham then had a good chance to double their lead, a cross from the right, should have been headed away but it was allowed to drop between two defenders, the strikers first touch was good, but his shot was weak and wide of the target.
Half time team talk was fairly positive, we were too passive, particularly in midfield, we must compete better and then allow ourselves the platform to play, and of course be more clinical in front of goal, on chances alone we should have 2 or 3 up at half time.
The second half got underway and immediately the Hurricanes team looked a bit more galvanised, now contesting every ball, they looked more than a match for their opponents. However Clapham doubled their lead, a long ball, a clever back heel, found the Hurricanes defence flat footed, the Clapham forward in on goal, and slots past Hayden 2-0. Hurricanes could have collapsed with addition of the second goal, two goals down in a game they should have been winning, they rolled up their sleeves and dug in. They soon got their reward, Louie putting in Joseph, he sped away from the trailing defenders, to calmly side foot around the ‘keeper 2-1.
It was all the away side now, Clapham pinned back and unable to make any inroads in the game. Hurricanes thought they had leveled, Joseph tapping home from inside the box, again the flag went up for offside, again another poor decision, with a defender in front of him as latched on to the ball. The game had threatened to boil over, Clapham loosing control with some poor challenges, that should have been cut out earlier by the Referee, instead he allowed far too much to go on, Benji in particularly on the end of some savage challenges, many not even pulled up for a foul? Finally the Referee had no choice, in effort to gain some kind of control he brandished two yellow cards in quick succession to the home team, all a bit, too little too late.
Hurricanes were awarded a corner after neat play down the left, Alex sent over a fantastic delivery, for Keiron to rise at the back post, control his downward header, a scramble from the ‘keeper in a vain effort to keep it out, it was clearly over the line, the Referee seemed to have a think, but then for once gave the correct decision 2-2. Clapham responded well, they pushed forward for the first time in a long period, and managed to get a shot on target, which was comfortably dealt with by Hayden. Oscar then played a fantastic ball through to Louie, everyone looked for the flag, but it didn’t go up! Louie raced through, he took a heavy second touch, which narrowed his angle, he cut his shot inches past the post, and slumped to the floor in frustration, it was a banker of a goal for a striker of his quality.
Just a few minutes remained, the chance that went begging, seemed to deflate the away team a little, Clapham knew they had been let off the hook. A long kick by Hayden wasn’t challenged, the header went back towards the Hurricanes goal, a Clapham player controlled clearly with his hand, missed (or ignored) by the Referee, the ball broke to the striker inside the box, a defender was on hand, but failed to make a challenge and the Striker slotted past Hayden 3-2. The away side protested at the Referee at the injustice of the decision to ignore the handball, Jordan a little too vocal got booked for his part in it. The away side cut a frustrated bunch, they had dominated a large part of the game, on chances alone should have been two or three up, not too mention two wrongly chalked off goals. Clapham had a great chance to further kick them in the teeth, a defensive error, lead to a free shot on goal, but six yards out, the attacker got under the ball and his shot clipped off the top of the bar, it was the last action of the game.
Scorers: Joseph, Keiron
M.O.T.M: Benji, stood up well to some ferocious tackling, got no protection from the Referee, largely kept his head and looked a creative threat. Special mention to Joseph who was terrific in the second half in particular.