Romsey Men’s 1st XI 8 – 1 Hamble Men’s 1st XI

Romsey got their campaign off to a flying start in this pre-season friendly with a dominant away victory against higher placed opposition. Following last year’s promotion Romsey will be playing in Regional Division 2 for the first time, so this fixture against a Hamble side who earned promotion from that division last season seemed like perfect preparation for the season ahead. With numerous regular players missing for this fixture, Romsey’s squad depth was tested and the younger players stepping up impressed with their assured displays.

Lucas Cross was involved in Romsey’s opening goal, as his attempt on goal was smothered by the advancing home goalkeeper, but the ball fell for Lewis Birch put away the rebound with a reverse stick shot. After struggling to keep possession early on, Romsey were growing into the game and could rely on Ben Butcher’s aerial balls from left back to set up their attacks. However Hamble equalised when Romsey conceded possession with a poor attempt at a pass out of defence and a rapid counter attack saw the ball slipped around debutant Tom Weech in goal for a tap in at the back post.

This did not put Romsey off their stride however, and the 15 minutes before the break saw Romsey playing well as a team, with the forward line in particular working hard when not in possession to put the Hamble defence under pressure. This effort was rewarded as the visitors converted one of several penalty corners won during this period when a rebound from an initial shot again fell to Birch, who turned a defender and fired into the near corner.

With the hard pressing tactics of the first half unsustainable, Romsey changed their approach after half-time and allowed Hamble possession in their own half, instead meeting them near the halfway line with a packed and well set midfield. The plan worked well with Romsey increasingly dominant in the middle of the pitch and the visitors extended their lead when Danny Miles’ cross-shot was deflected in at the back post by Tom Ponsford.

Hamble were reduced to ten men for five minutes when one of their players was sin-binned for tripping Jack Forrest-Charde with his stick, and Romsey took full advantage by putting away three further goals during this period. Ponsford again got on the end of an assist from Miles for the fourth goal before a well executed counter-attack saw Miles supplying the final pass which Ben Mullan fired past a covering defender into the net. Forrest-Charde also got on the score sheet with a well taken dragflick low into the bottom corner.

As the game drew to a conclusion the play opened up and there were plenty of chances at both ends with Weech in the Romsey goal making several timely interventions both in open play and against penalty corner routines. Danny Miles’ earlier work setting up the goals was rewarded late on with a goal of his own and Birch rounded out the scoring and ensured the man of the match award with a low strike from the edge of the area that completed his hat-trick.

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