David Edwards

Honourable Artillery Company Men’s 1s 2 – 0 Romsey Men’s 1s

Romsey endured a frustrating day on their trip to Dulwich as they never really got going after suffering a disorganised start to the game, with one of the travelling cars stuck in traffic and arriving only just in time for a delayed push-back.

The disruptive effect of this setback was all too evident in the opening stages of the game as HAC pressed high and swarmed all over the visitors. The hosts had reward for their superiority with a goal within five minutes, working the ball to their winger down the right who drove along the baseline and squared for a simple finish.

Romsey’s attempts at an aerial route out were consistently picked off, allowing the hosts to apply yet more pressure. They won numerous penalty corners and eventually added a second goal from the rebound of such a set piece, flicked high into the net on the reverse after Lozz Scott in goal had kicked away an initial shot.

Romsey finally settled in the second part of the first half and managed to work the ball forward with some nice moves, but a lack of creativity in the final third saw them trying to crash the ball into the area in an all too predictable fashion which HAC dealt with comfortably.

After halftime an inspired performance from their man of the match Scott kept the hosts from adding to their lead as Romsey took more risks pushing players forward in search of a way back into the game. He came out on top not only in a one-one-one situation but also brilliantly denied a two-on-one opportunity, choosing his moment to advance from goal to perfection. HAC might also have scored more had they been slicker at executing their numerous penalty corner routines.

The season takes a break this weekend for Easter before the final round of fixtures the following weekend which sees Romsey host second placed and promotion chasing London Academicals.

Romsey Men’s 1s 4 – 1 Fareham Men’s 3s

Romsey hosted struggling Fareham and made it back to back victories as the season approaches its conclusion.

Romsey opened the scoring with a flowing move that saw Ben Mullan burst down the right channel and pick out Lewis Birch near the baseline, who squared the ball for Neil Strong to finish from close range.

Romsey were denied a second when Jack Forrest-Charde’s shot at a penalty corner deflected in off the goalkeeper’s pads but was ruled out for being marginally too high as a first strike.

Just before the break the visitors drew level as Romsey were slow to recover from a turnover, allowing the Fareham danger man to break into space from a quickly taken free hit on halfway. He advanced into the area and got a reverse stick effort off that was kept out by the stick of Lozz Scott in goal, but the ball remained near the back post where a forward following in had a simple finish.

After a first half characterised more by promise than by end product, Romsey were well on top after the break and could have scored more than the three they achieved. Lewis Birch earned the man of the match award for being particularly effective in exploiting the space available behind the Fareham defence with his pacy runs.

It was Birch who put the hosts back ahead after Dave Miles spotted the intelligent run of Tom Ponsford beyond the backline and met it with an accurate aerial pass, with the fullback making a good choice to square the ball to Birch as the ‘keeper advanced from goal.

Soon after Rob Kerr found Birch who lifted the ball over the diving stopper, but after initially awarding the goal the officials overturned the decision feeling that Kerr had committed a stick block as he advanced the ball into the top of the area.

The hosts were not to be denied their cushion and their third goal was a real team effort involving most of the side, starting with a clearance from Scott and ending with Mullan scoring after a defender had blocked Strong’s shot.

The fourth goal for Romsey was once more inspired by a Dave Miles aerial, picking out the ever-involved Birch who set up Mullan for his second of the game.

The result lifts Romsey back into the top half of the table ahead of the trek to Dulwich to play HAC next weekend.

Andover Men’s 1s 2 – 4 Romsey Men’s 1s

Victory at Andover’s John Hanson School saw Romsey complete a season double over their Test Valley neighbours and enabled the Abbey side to put to rest any lingering worries about relegation from Regional Division 2.

An illness sweeping through the squad had threatened to leave the visitors unable to field a full side, but James Manning, Ali Nawn and James Ponsford stepping up from the 2s at short notice put in excellent showings to help secure the win. Ben Mullan continued his run of strong performances at the heart of the midfield and secured another man of the match award for his efforts.

Both sides had chances in the first half but it was Romsey who took the lead from a penalty corner with Jack Forrest-Charde firing in a strike after his initial pass was blocked by a defender.

The Andover ‘keeper made some fine saves in the game including denying Lewis Birch’s reverse stick effort in a one-on-one situation.

After halftime the hosts drew level when Romsey conceded possession deep in their left channel and were slow in regrouping, allowing the ball to be worked into the area and slipped to an unmarked player who swept it in.

Romsey retook the lead from another penalty corner with Birch beating the ‘keeper with a powerful straight strike from the top of the area.

The second half saw the sides share five yellow cards, with the visitors taking advantage by extending their lead when Andover were down to nine men for a time. Interplay around the top of the circle saw passes exchanged between Danny Miles and Birch before David Edwards picked out Forrest-Charde in the left of the ‘D’, who caught the ‘keeper out with a finish inside the near post from a tight angle.

Romsey were then reduced to ten as captain Ben Butcher was penalised for a tackle in the area, with the penalty stroke also awarded for the infringement duly converted by the hosts.

The visitors secured the win by improvising when a penalty corner routine went awry, with Sam Barcia showing sharp reflexes to divert the ball into the net at the back post from Forrest-Charde’s rising shot.

Sunbury & Walton Hawks Men’s 1s 0 – 2 Romsey Men’s 1s

A fantastic team performance saw Romsey surprise promotion chasing Sunbury and put to bed their losing sequence that stretched back six troubling games. The win was made all the sweeter as numerous unavailabilities saw Romsey travel severely short-handed, with coach Danny Miles required to step in to ensure they could field a bare eleven.

Miles came close to giving Romsey the lead when he was picked out clear in the area, but the Hawks goalkeeper did a good job of denying him the time to turn and get a shot away.

The defence were an excellent unit throughout, with Dave Miles ever dependable at centre-back and responsible for a key block of a shot from a penalty corner whilst the game was goalless.

Captain Ben Butcher’s aerials proved an invaluable means of releasing pressure as well as setting up attacks and it was one such ball that set up Romsey’s opener. It connected with the run of Danny Miles beyond the defence, leading to Lewis Birch setting up Sam Barcia in the area. His first shot was blocked by the ‘keeper, but Barcia picked up the rebound and flicked it into the empty goal.

Ben Mullan delivered a man of the match performance with numerous surging dribbles into space from the midfield and with the defence backing off on one such occasion, he drove into the area and doubled the lead with a bouncing shot.

The second half saw the pressure cranked up on the visitors but tenacious defending by Romsey of their 23 combined with the ball not quite falling for the hosts to ensure that Sunbury had few clear chances despite plenty of possession high up the pitch.

The result sees Romsey climb into the top half of the table, with close rivals Camberley and Farnborough the visitors at Romsey School next Saturday.

Romsey Men’s 1s 1 – 2 London Edwardians Men’s 2s

Romsey were cruelly denied a hard fought point by an Edwardians winner just a minute from time, with the home side instead falling to a sixth straight defeat.

It was a cagey game with the defensive presses making it hard to work the ball forward and both sides looking to exploit loose passes from the centrebacks. The teams traded early penalty corner opportunities without result, but Romsey were grateful to Dave Miles for a magnificent block of an Edwardians shot from close range at one of the set pieces.

After the break Romsey opened the scoring after good hassling by Lewis Birch saw him dispossess a defender high in the right channel, from where he drove along the baseline and picked out Neil Strong in the area. The striker passed to set up Jack Forrest-Charde whose shot was miscued but fell neatly for the onrushing wing back Josh Newman who notched his second ever goal with a spectacular diving sweep.

Edwardians struck back from a penalty corner after Scott had kept out the first effort but was left little chance when the rebound was slapped hard across goal into the corner.

Both sides had further chances, with Romsey’s man of the match Ben Mullan creating one of the best openings when he drove around the top of the area before unleashing a rising shot that a touch from Sam Barcia could not quite deflect in.

With time ticking down the visitors struck for their winner, working the ball too easily into the crowded area and unleashing a sweetly hit reverse effort that went in off the far post.

Despite the defeat, Romsey can take heart from a team performance that was far better than those earlier in their losing run. The Abbey side will travel to second placed Sunbury for next Saturday’s game.

City of Portsmouth Men’s 1st XI 2 – 0 Romsey Men’s 1st XI

Romsey’s slump in form worsened as they crashed to a fifth successive defeat, this time away at previously winless Portsmouth.

The game was goalless at half time despite each side having a decent number of opportunities, both in open play and from penalty corners.

Joe Welch saw his first short corner drag-flick crash back off the crossbar, with David Edwards unable to get the touch necessary to divert Jack Forrest-Charde’s reverse hit of the rebound on to the target.

Forrest-Charde picked out Ben Butcher in the area with a great through ball, but the visitors’ captain was unable to beat the goalkeeper. Butcher then returned the favour of setting up Forrest-Charde, but he mistimed an attempted sweep and the chance went begging.

Edwards picked up his side’s man of the match nomination for making several interceptions and tackles in the midfield that set up promising attacks but Romsey lacked the fluency of passing in the final third to make the most of these opportunities.

After the break Romsey had the ball in the net but it was ruled out for a foot in the build up. As neither side showed a clinical edge, the first goal was likely to be crucial and Portsmouth eventually converted a penalty corner with a drag-flick well placed into the side netting.

This lead allowed Portsmouth to control the pace of the game whilst Romsey’s play became ragged and rushed. The visitors were unhappy when the ball hitting a Portsmouth foot was missed and the home side extended their advantage from the resulting attack.

Romsey had further opportunities through Welch drag-flicks and also when Sam Barcia put Chris Mason through one-on-one with the ‘keeper, but the teenager failed to connect with an early strike.

Romsey drop to sixth in the league as a result and host London Edwardians this Saturday, with the visitors lying just above them in the table.

Romsey Men’s 1st XI 3 – 9 Haslemere Men’s 1st XI

League leaders Haslemere underlined their status as comfortably the best side in the division by dispatching Romsey by a large margin for the second time this season.

As in the previous meeting between the sides, Haslemere impressed with their creation of space with persistent leading by players off the ball. This combined with slick exchanges of passes in the final third of the pitch to open up the hosts numerous times and the visitors scored several times in the first half by meeting crosses from the baseline at the back post.

Haslemere also posed a threat from penalty corners, and whilst Lozz Scott in goal did a good job dealing with the direct attempts from the top of the area, Romsey struggled to deal with the more intricately worked routines.

Romsey restored some pride by getting on the scoresheet when Ben Mullan drove the ball from midfield and looked to find Jack Forrest-Charde in the area. His deflection was kept out by the ‘keeper but Lewis Birch was on hand to claim the loose ball and put it in the net.

The second half was a more even affair with Romsey getting a second goal from a penalty corner when Forrest-Charde’s pass to the back post eluded attackers and defender alike to go straight in.

The hosts also scored arguably the goal of the game when Ben Butcher’s quick thinking saw him launch a long aerial from halfway on the left touchline to the edge of the area on the opposite side of the pitch. Chris Mason was rewarded when he gambled on the defender under it failing to control the ball and finished with a rocket of a strike high into the net.

Romsey Men’s 1st XI 1 – 3 Yateley Men’s 1st XI

Romsey’s mid-season slump continued as a poor performance saw them fall to a third straight defeat, with lowly Yateley giving a good account of themselves to earn a win that lifts them out of the bottom two in the table.

The game began at a frantic pace with the play short on both quality and structure, with hosts Romsey in particular failing to settle in to the match as they frequently squandered possession trying to rush the ball forward in attack.

The visitors took the lead from a penalty stroke that was awarded and duly converted when a shot was blocked on the line by a defender’s body after the ball was worked down the right channel and squared from the baseline.

Romsey earned some penalty corners but could not execute effectively, with good pressure being applied by the Yateley runners closing down the top of the area quickly.

In contrast, the visitors were able to convert two set pieces of their own in the second half, firstly with a rising drag-flick and then a neatly taken deflection routine in front of the back post.

In between these two goals, Romsey gave themselves hope as Joe Welch drove the ball forward before finding Neil Strong in the area, whose square pass was diverted between the ‘keeper’s legs by a diving Jack Forrest-Charde.

Romsey must now attempt to regroup and give a better showing when league leaders Haslemere visit next week.

London Academicals Men’s 1s 3 – 1 Romsey Men’s 1s

Romsey ended the first half of the season with a disappointing performance and a deserved defeat away at one of their rivals for promotion.

The hosts were the better side early on with their movement up front causing Romsey’s press plenty of problems. Academicals won several penalty corners and it took good interventions from goalkeeper Lozz Scott and centreback David Edwards respectively to deny the first two set pieces.

Romsey came close with a routine of their own but the runners looking for a deflection failed to connect with Jack Forrest-Charde’s pass just beyond the back post.

Academicals returned to the attack and converted a third penalty corner with a low flick to the left corner which Scott got a hand to but could not prevent from squeezing over the line.

The visitors also threatened with a drag-flick but Joe Welch’s effort was agonisingly inches wide of the left post with the home stopper rooted in the middle of the goal.

Romsey have rarely been behind in games whilst on their winning streak over past weeks and a poor reaction to this unfamiliar situation perhaps explained the lack of patience in possession for much of the first half, too often trying to force long balls from the back.

Nonetheless some good chances were created, in particular when Lewis Birch broke into space and used his pace to out-sprint the defence, only to fire uncharacteristically off target when one-on-one with the ‘keeper.

After the break, the Abbey side remained too hasty in attempting to equalise and were punished as Academicals all but sealed the win with two goals in quick succession after capitalising on turnovers in the Romsey half.

Romsey improved in attack as the game progressed and it took a fine diving save to deny a second Welch drag-flick. Eventually the visitors got the consolation goal they deserved as good team play down the right led to the ball being centered for Jack Murray to sweep in from the edge of the area.

Romsey can still be very pleased with their work so far this season, sitting in fourth place at the winter break but level on points with two of the sides above them, chasing leaders Haslemere who are four points clear.

Romsey Men’s 1s 5 – 4 Honourable Artillery Company Men’s 1s

A rollercoaster of twists and turns ended with Romsey ahead at the final whistle, though they probably did not deserve all three points after suffering a collapse in the middle of the game that was hard to account for.

Travelling HAC could only field ten players and Romsey appeared to be heading to a routine victory as they led 2-0 shortly before halftime.

The first came when a penalty corner won by Jack Forrest-Charde was converted by Joe Welch’s drag-flick into the left of the goal.

This was backed up by a strike by Ben Mullan after good pressing work saw him dispossess the opposition centreback and dribble around the ‘keeper.

But in the final minutes of the first period HAC broke down their right wing and converted at the back post on the second attempt after Alex Buck in goal had cut out the first cross.

This goal gave the visitors the boost in confidence they needed to believe they could get something from the game, and after the break they began to embarrass the home side’s superiority in numbers by frequently creating spaces in the Romsey press to dribble through.

Romsey were left shell-shocked as the ten men gave a superb display against the odds, first equalising and then taking the lead.

Buck, deputising for the unavailable Lozz Scott, was actually having a good game but was left exposed by his teammates and the clinical HAC forwards passed the ball around for tap ins that gave him no chance.

The home side drew level when Rob Kerr’s ball into the D evaded a player from both teams to arrive at Sam Barcia at the back post, who outmaneuvered the goalkeeper and put a reverse flick in from close range.

HAC once more exposed Romsey’s frailties to go ahead again, only to be hit by a salvo of goals in consecutive minutes that proved decisive.

Welch continued his fine set piece record this season with a second sweetly delivered drag-flick, but was later forced off with an injury that could rule him out from future fixtures.

The cheers of the home spectators were just settling down when Forrest-Charde shrugged off a couple of heavy tackles as he drove into the area and, with players from both sides stopping prematurely in anticipation of a penalty corner being awarded, flicked the ball in off the post to reignite the celebrations even stronger.

Mullan then had a chance to seal the game from a similar position but his flick instead found the ‘keeper’s chest.

This seventh successive victory maintains the host’s second place in the league as the top four all won, but Romsey will need to tighten up when they visit third placed London Academicals on Saturday.

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