Romsey Men’s 1st XI 5 – 0 Haslemere Men’s 1st XI

The bottom two sides in Hants/Surrey Div. 2 met at Romsey School last Saturday knowing a win was vital if they are to avoid relegation this season. Romsey claimed a resounding win thanks to the performance of their season so far and the victory sees them leapfrog above the visitors to move off the bottom of the table.

Despite the one sided final scoreline, play was quite even in the first half but Romsey were effective in converting their chances whilst dogged defending prevented the visitors recording many efforts on target. Haslemere pushed forward early on and Romsey’s lack of composure in possession was only adding to the pressure as they frequently turned the ball over soon after winning it due to poor decision making.

Haslemere had several penalty corners and were only just denied the lead when home captain Dave Miles diverted the ball onto the right post before winning the battle for the rebound and clearing to safety.

The home side weathered the storm and hit back with a clinical move amongst the midfield quartet that saw passes from Harry Goodchild, David Edwards and Jack Forrest-Charde combine to put Ben Mullan through on goal. He initially shaped to hit a shot at the top of the area but when the GK misjudged his angles whilst running off his line, Mullan showed a cool head to pass the ball into the exposed corner.

Haslemere continued to enjoy promising positions in and around the Romsey ‘D’, but the home side always seemed able to get a stick in at the vital moment and deny a shot on target, with Miles in particular making a series of brilliant tackles.

Romsey doubled their lead at a penalty corner set piece, when the play was slipped right to Neil Strong who spotted a gap on the line and flicked the ball onto the backboard. Haslemere’s cause was not helped by a cheap yellow card picked up by a forward a few minutes before half-time after a moment of dissent.

For the first 25 minutes of the second half Romsey consistently looked the more likely side to score as they settled into a comfortable rhythm and Haslemere were reduced to throwing a large number of aerial balls in an attempt to counter the high press of the home side. The lead was extended at another penalty corner as the GK committed to the right with his dive but Joe Welch’s dragflick sailed into the opposite half of the net.

Romsey were in dreamland as they scored a fourth goal to put the game to bed, with Forrest-Charde finding Chris Mason free in the area who went round the GK before setting up Lewis Birch to finish past a covering defender. This was followed by a fifth when a Goodchild aerial ball set Tom Ponsford free and he found Mullan, who turned and finished for his second of the game.

The final minutes of the game saw the home side under pressure, but as before the visitors were denied by last-ditch tackles as Romsey clung onto their first clean sheet of the season. With so many fine performances to choose from the man of the match votes were widely spread, but Goodchild got the overall nod for his excellent work in balancing support of the attack with protection of the defence from his holding midfield position.

Results elsewhere were ideal for Romsey as all four of the other sides in the bottom half of the table lost. Next week’s fixture is a tough visit to an in-form Bank of England side, but Romsey can take confidence from having won the reverse fixture back in November.

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