Romsey Men’s 1st XI 4 – 7 Honourable Artillery Company Men’s 1st XI

Following a disastrous opening to the game, Romsey produced a credible fightback to give high flying HAC a scare, but now go into the Christmas break with plenty to do in the final half of the season if they are to earn a second season in Hants/Surrey Div 2. The Hampshire side faced a battle just to reach the fixture on their longest away trip of the season as London gridlock held up the arrival of most of the squad until just ten minutes prior to pushback.

The minimal warm-up that this situation afforded was in evidence as the visitors slumped to a 3-0 deficit within ten minutes as HAC demonstrated their slick passing and clinical finishing, frequently overloading the Romsey defence with supporting runners from midfield.  Romsey were forced to rejig their already threadbare backline when centreback Joe Welch was temporarily forced off injured after being struck by the ball and forward Tom McCarthy helped out by stepping in at left back.

Romsey finally settled and contested an even period of play in which they won two penalty corners;  the first was wasted without even getting a shot off but with the second Welch marked his return to the pitch by launching a trademark dragflick inside the right post. Romsey continued to trade attacks with the hosts, and a few minutes before halftime they again reduced the deficit as Ben Mullan supplied the overlapping run of defender David Edwards. Whilst no attacking stick managed to connect with his angled cross, the ‘keeper made a hash of a clearance and pin balled it off both kickers into his own goal.

Hence at halftime the game was rather surprisingly very much alive, and at times in the second period HAC were almost made to regret not finishing off the visitors in that early period of dominance. Still it was the home side who scored next as they converted a penalty corner on the second attempt, though the visitors felt that the striker had fouled Romsey captain Dave Miles when getting to said rebound.

Romsey responded when Jack Forrest-Charde slotted a penalty stroke into the bottom left corner after being shoved whilst about to shoot just six yards out, and the defender could consider himself fortunate to avoid a yellow card having interrupted a goal-scoring opportunity with this crude foul.

A key moment of the game occurred when Lucas Cross fired a crossfield pass to pick out Neil Strong and his deflection was headed for the bottom corner until the GK brilliantly stretched out a foot to divert it narrowly wide. The home side were largely getting away with their roughing up tactics as the umpires either missed or ignored several cynical bodychecks, and instead Romsey were reduced to ten as Welch seemed rather hard done by to be yellow carded for a relatively innocuous backstick during a tackle out on the touchline.

HAC took advantage and scored their fifth as Tom Weech made another penalty corner save in goal but was let down by his defence who dawdled in chasing down the rebound, allowing an attacker to rifle a shot between his pads. The lead was back to a single goal when the home GK erred in prematurely moving to cut out a cross that never came as Forrest-Charde took advantage of the gap with a cheeky near post finish.

Romsey’s frustrations with the officials continued but did them no good as Lewis Birch saw yellow for an outburst after the award of another hotly debated penalty corner. Romsey’s commitment of men forward in search of the equaliser inevitably afforded opportunities for the high forward line of HAC and with a few minutes remaining they finally manage to shake the visitors from their back with two goals in quick succession to seal a deserved victory.

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