Romsey Men’s 1st XI 3 – 3 Camberley & Farnborough Men’s 1st XI

Romsey will be sorely disappointed to have squandered an excellent chance to boost their survival hopes as they frittered away an early two goal lead, but the draw was a fair result and both sides will have left ruing missed opportunities to secure all three points.

The game was an entertaining spectacle for those watching on the sidelines with the first half in particular played at a furious tempo, but the play was curiously mismatched for the first twenty minutes as the visitors entirely dominated possession and territory, yet Romsey had almost all the good chances and might have put the game beyond Camberley’s reach during this period.

Camberley started on the front foot and gradually strangled Romsey as they stepped their press high up the pitch, though the hosts did themselves no favours as poor passes were picked off time and again by C&F sticks. The back three of Ben Butcher, Joe Welch and captain Dave Miles put in an awesome display making countless flat stick tackles and interceptions in the ‘D’ so that for all their pressure, C&F actually had very few chances in open play to show for it. Whilst they also won a good many penalty corners throughout the game, they will surely be dissatisfied at having posed such little threat from these set pieces.

Surprisingly it was Romsey who opened the scoring when they broke away from defending one such corner and Welch received the ball on the halfway line. He found Birch who exchanged passes with wide man Chris Mason, then drove leftwards across the top of the area and unleashed a brilliant finish into the far corner. The hosts were indebted to the ruthless finishing shown by man of the match Birch who rounded the GK and scored a second reverse stick effort after running on to an intelligently executed aerial ball from Miles that bypassed the high C&F defensive line.

Romsey had two great chances to extend their advantage and leave the visitors with a mountain to climb, but C&F survived both and soon punished the hosts at the other end. When a C&F defender committed a crude foul to deny a goal scoring situation just yards from goal, a penalty flick was awarded. Jack Forrest-Charde stepped up but saw his effort cannon back off the base of the left post.

Minutes later Romsey again carved the visitors open and Mason launched a flick from ten yards out, but a defender closed him down to make a vital intervention that deflected the ball agonisingly just over the bar.

Camberley responded by drawing level with two goals in the space of five minutes as the turning over of the ball in dangerous areas continued and the visitors finally executed their attacks to deliver some overdue punishment for Romsey’s repeated sloppy play.

Romsey foolishly got into an pattern of dispute with the officials that they could never win. This cost them when Harry Goodchild managed to talk his way into a sin-binning for dissent after being shown a green card for a foul earlier in the play.

The hosts survived this and made it to half-time without further damage on the scoreline, but they needed their misfiring midfield unit to step up in the second period. This generally did happen as Romsey played a bit more on the front foot and C&F started to be the side relying more on counterattacks for their chances.

Romsey retook the lead at a penalty corner with Miles firing a low dragflick at goal which Goodchild diverted into the net with a well timed jab. Romsey continued to threaten and several times got into the area down the right channel but sadly just lacked the composure to pick out a Romsey stick in the centre of the area. Birch also had the ball in the goal once more, this time with a front stick shot, but the celebrations were cut short when the far umpire indicated that the ball had struck a Romsey foot in the build up and the score was disallowed.

Camberley gave the hosts several warnings before they managed to draw level, with most of their best attacks featuring their extremely pacey left winger. The equaliser came as Romsey conceded possession whilst making a substitution and with players out of position they never quite recovered before another frustratingly soft goal was scored. Welch almost rescued the situation by making another good block tackle on the edge of the area but unfortunately slipped as he did so, and Camberley seized upon the loose ball which was slipped left for a strike that went narrowly inside the near post.

Minutes later Camberley broke again and a desperate tackle from behind by Butcher broke up the dangerous attack but came at the cost of yellow card for a stick tackle. Despite the intensity remaining high with both sides pressing for a winning goal, the game rather petered out in terms of good chances.

The result might be viewed by Romsey either as a draw gained having been outplayed for large portions of the game or as two vital points dropped having developed a potentially match winning situation early on. The next two fixtures see Romsey face Salisbury and Old Kingstonian respectively, and claiming maximum points would allow them to leap above both these rivals in the table.

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