Jim East

Romsey Men’s 1st XI 5 – 2 Old Kingstonian Men’s 1st XI

For a second successive week a hat-trick from man of the match Lewis Birch fired Romsey to a vital win against rivals also threatened by relegation, though the team performance was rather less impressive on this occasion. With the travelling side only able to field ten players the result was rarely in doubt, but a lacklustre showing meant Romsey made hard work of what should have been a relatively straightforward victory.

The short-handed visitors understandably sat deep and looked to fashion their chances on the break, and for much of the game Romsey were too direct in attack, trying to plough through the well set OK defence rather than showing the necessary craft to keep changing the angle of attack until an opening was created.

With Romsey piling forward to the point of overcommitment, the counterattacking visitors won several penalty corners and at the first set piece skipper Dave Miles’ game was ended by a nasty hand injury. Romsey finally lifted their game and took the lead with an incisive move from a sideline hit that ended with Tom Ponsford finding Birch in the area and he deftly lifted the ball over the diving goalkeeper.

Kingstonian were denied an equaliser as David Edwards deflected a penalty corner dragflick onto the bar, with the ball rebounding in the middle of the area where a forward was allowed a free shot by some statuesque defending, but he took a big swing and fluffed the effort. Perhaps frustrated with their struggle to break the tenacious OK side down, Romsey senselessly flirted with a sin-binning on account of some poor tackling and questioning of the umpires’ decisions.

Romsey were unfortunate not to score as Edwards passed to Jack Forrest-Charde just inside the ‘D’ and his shot crashed against the base of the near post. The lead was doubled however when Neil Strong’s flicked shot rebounded off the keeper’s leg pads and Birch nutmegged a covering defender on the line after winning the race for the loose ball.

Ten minutes after the interval Romsey broke through again as a hit into the area by Forrest-Charde somehow eluded several players on both sides and arrived at striker Strong near the back post for a simple finish. The move of the game followed soon after as Romsey’s high pressing saw Birch pick off an OK pass from a 16-yard restart then pass to Ben Mullan in the circle who squared for a swept low finish by Strong.

Other teams might have crumbled following this double setback but the OK players deserve huge credit for keeping their workrate high in spite of the warm conditions and one sided match situation. Their spirited display continued and instead it was the home side who faltered, being pushed deep into their own half for several minutes, with OK gaining reward on the scoresheet as a neatly worked set of passes from a long corner beat several defenders and a touch from Scott’s stick could not keep the eventual effort on goal out.

Man of the match Lewis Birch grabs another hat trick

Man of the match Lewis Birch grabs another hat trick

Romsey hit back when Forrest-Charde drove deep into the ‘D’ and was stick tackled by the goalie, causing a penalty stroke to be awarded which Birch expertly placed high above the keeper’s head to complete his hat-trick.

The final goal of the game saw Romsey concede in somewhat unfortunate fashion as Scott saved a dragflick with his hand pad only for the ball to cannon into Edwards standing next to him and over the line for an own goal.

The other sides below Romsey in Hants/Surrey Div. 2 lost to provide something of a cushion as the abbey side face two tough fixtures to finish the league season. With significant uncertainty regarding the number of teams to be relegated however, Romsey must push for victories in both games and will need to be much sharper in next week’s visit to champions Basingstoke who wrapped up the title with a victory on Saturday.

Winchester 2-3 Romsey Mens 2nd XI

Romsey Men’s 2nd XI took to the pitch against Winchester knowing that it was still theoretically possible for the Snows Hampshire Group div 6 leaders to miss out on promotion with three games to play, so a win against 8th placed Winchester was essential.

The visitors got off to the worst possible start, allowing the home side’s playmaker to. Dance past three ineffectual tackles and then score with a miss hit shot which wrong footed Romsey net minder Alex Buck and put the hosts 1-0 up.

Winchester belied their lowly standing in the division. Putting together some good possession, but we’re unable to create another opportunity, and it was Romsey who struck back with a miss hit shot of their own when Lucas across broke into the D and saw hit weak backhand effort sneak home.

Late in the half Romsey repeated their earlier mistake, allowing the same player space to run in to the D. His shot was scarcely better, but was at least well placed, and gave Winchester a 2-1 half time lead.

The play after the break was strangely listless, neither side seeming to want to grab the game, and matter drifted for five minutes. Gradually Romsey gathered themselves and started to produce some threatening hockey but could not score.

With 10 minutes to go, Skipper Stuart Robertson made an inspired tactical switch, removing Ben Parker from his excellent shift at left half, and threw Winchester old boy Martin Simpson-Scott into the fray up front. This change paid immediate dividends when Simpson-Scott harried the home defence into conceding possession close to their own goal, broke into the D and found James Boggis who made no mistake at the right hand post, finishing clinically to level the scores.

With only a few minutes left in the game, Dave Andrews and Chris Arnold exchanged passes before finding Cross unmarked close to the goal line, and the Romsey forward was able to force the ball in, and for the visitors to take the lead for the first time.

It was to prove decisive, and Romsey gratefully grabbed all three points. Havant also own and so remain level with Romsey on points, but in second place in the league due to a much inferior goal difference. Bournemouth meanwhile, the early season pace setters lost somewhat surprisingly away to Fleet and Ewshot and are now five points adrift with only two matches left to play.

Luca Cross grabbed a brace to keep Men's 2 top

Luca Cross grabbed a brace to keep Men’s 2 top

Romsey Men’s 1st XI 4 – 2 Salisbury Men’s 1st XI
Romsey made the trip to face fellow Hants/Surrey Div 2 struggler Salisbury and deservedly returned with the points after a solid albeit workmanlike performance. Striker Lewis Birch continued his red hot form and led from the front with another man of the match display. The result underlines Romsey’s status as the in form side of the division as they have recovered from a painfully slow first half of the season to register 13 points from the last possible 18.
Salisbury created relatively few chances in open play but were a constant threat from the numerous penalty corners won through the match, and Lozz Scott in goal made an excellent diving save low to the right to deny an early such set piece. After the initial period of home side pressure, Romsey moved onto the front foot and had plenty of possession in and around the Salisbury area, but had nothing to show for it as they struggled to execute their own penalty corner routines.
Salisbury were getting in trouble with the officials for repeated stick tackling and inevitably paid the price midway through the half as one of their number picked up a sin-binning. This should have been the moment for Romsey to lay siege to the Salisbury area yet the visitors responded very poorly to the man advantage, as loose passing in the midfield gave up possession too easily and the home side looking increasingly dangerous when they broke quickly.
From one such raid they earned a penalty corner and converted it with a low flick that was partially blocked by a touch from Scott’s stick, but still had enough momentum to find the goal. Romsey responded positively and finally made a penalty corner effort of their own count as the pace of Joe Welch’s dragflick left the ‘keeper floundering.
On the stroke of halftime Romsey gained a vital lead after breaking from deep, though the promising run of Birch was cut short by a crude bodycheck. The visitors did not let this disrupt their momentum however, quickly gathering the ball for Birch to pass the free hit to David Edwards. The midfielder spun and played a ball around the corner to meet the excellent looping run of Birch, who drove at the area and drilled a deadly low shot into the far corner.
Romsey were guilty of putting themselves under unnecessary pressure at the start of the second half, at times being slow to work the ball out from deep in their half and enabling Salisbury to press them in. The visitors survived some penalty corner opportunities and then extended their advantage when Jack Forrest-Charde drove to the right outside the area and slipped a cute underarm pass to find Birch’s opposing angled run in the ‘D’. He sized up the passing possibilities and opted instead for a finish that nutmegged the GK.
Romsey settled into a nice rhythm and for a while spread the ball around well to take the sting out of the game, spending plenty of time in the Salisbury half, aided by the home side again spending five minutes with a man in the sin-bin after another accumulation of stick tackles. Once restored to eleven, Salisbury got back in the game with a goal very similar to their first, winning a penalty corner that was scored in spite of a deflection from the ‘keeper’s stick.
The prospect of giving up a precious potential victory for the second week in a row perhaps played on Romsey’s minds as they looked decidedly shaky in the following minutes and had to defend a couple more penalty corners.
The visitors remained a threat going forward however and the home side could not deal with Birch’s incisive runs. He sliced the defence open after receiving the ball on the run and beat the two defenders close by with his pace, but missed out on a brilliant solo effort to seal a hat trick after going wide of the advancing ‘keeper as his push from a narrow angle drifted wide of the unguarded goal.
With less than a minute remaining the visitors won a penalty corner and added gloss to their victory as the ball was slipped right and Birch lifted the ball over the GK and into the net to complete his hat trick.
With other results in the league favouring them, the abbey side leap up to fourth from bottom and there is another basement battle to come as the side below them, Old Kingstonian, visit Romsey next week.

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.

Fleet and Ewshott 0 –  3 Romsey

After their barnstorming 20-0 win at home to city of Portsmouth last week, Romsey men’s 2nd XI travelled to Aldershot Army Hockey Centre and the potential banana skin that is Fleet and Ewshot.

Fleet belied their lowly position languishing down in 8th in Snows Group Hampshire Divison 6, proving a tough nut to crack. The home side played a high pressure style which tipped over into foul lay once or twice. The home skipper had to be spoken to by both umpires by the end of the game, and can consider himself pretty lucky to escape a card.

Romsey opened their account half way through the first period when midfielder Jim East fired a pass through to forward Carl Hendy who picked the lifted ball deftly out of the air before feeding Sam Barcia who drew a smart save from the home keeper. Arch poacher Martin Simpson-Scott pounced on the loose ball and smashed home from the top of the D.

Martin Simpson-Scott with his eye on the prize!

Martin Simpson-Scott with his eye on the prize!

Skipper Stuart Robertson was finding it very difficult to move the ball away from the visitor D thanks to Fleet pressing very high up the pitch. Late in the first half Robertson found a passing lane  right through to Colin Harwood who touched the ball onto Barcia. Barcia fired a crash pass into the Fleet D and Simpson-Scott applied the killer touch to divert the ball beyond the keeper for a two goal lead at half time.

The third quarter was the home side’s best spell, as they forced a number of penalty corners but could not convert, thanks to some robust tackling from Dave Andrews. As the game wore on they found it harder and harder to sustain pressure, with man of the match East picking off more and more passes before releasing wings James Boggis who went close twice, and Jacob Arney on the counter attack.

Fleet’s best chance came with 15 minutes to go when a penetrating pass fell for the home forward to crash a shot against the Romsey bar. The loose ball was snaffled by Dave Andrews who belted it to safety.

The visitors got more of a grip on the match after this, and the result was put beyond doubt shortly before  full time when Simpson-Scott hassled the Fleet defence into an error, stole possession and drove into the d before neatly chipping the on rushing keeper to complete his hat trick.

Romsey go top on goal difference thanks to New Milton’s home win over Bournemouth, and Havant being unable to beat Winchester by the necessary 40 goals margin.

Romsey Men’s 1st XI 4 – 0 Bank of England Men’s 1st XI

An away game against the side lying second in the table at the start of the day appeared a tough fixture for Romsey but they made light of the respective league positions to record an impressive victory. The result completed a season double over the London side and also secured Romsey their first back-to-back wins of the campaign to significantly boost their hopes of remaining in Hants/Surrey Div. 2 next year.

Early on the Bank settled into a defensive half court press which allowed Romsey to dominate both territory and possession, with the visitors showing the necessary patience to regularly switch the point of attack by quickly moving the ball between the back three. After ten minutes Romsey’s superiority was rewarded from a penalty corner as the goalkeeper denied Jack Forrest-Charde’s dragflick but could do nothing about Ben Mullan’s sweep shot on the rebound.

Lewis Birch : Arch Poacher !

Lewis Birch : Arch Poacher !

This seemed to spark the Bank into a more positive approach and for a while the visitors were squeezed back, defending against the barrage of hits fired towards their area. Inevitably some of these found an attacking stick, yet the home side struggled to fashion chances in open play and were generally restricted to a few penalty corner routines in the first half.

Romsey’s second goal came when Forrest-Charde showed good awareness in seizing upon the award of a free hit to take a self pass before the defence had got in position. His shot on the run whilst crossing the top of the area was somewhat scuffed but it worked out perfectly as an assist thanks the run of Lewis Birch who beat both a defender and the GK to the ball and lifted a deflection into the net.

The game evened out with both sides looking to use the wonderfully flat and smooth pitch to play through balls to the forwards, and the youthful Romsey attack in particular enjoyed exploiting their speed advantage to open up the Bank defence. Ben Butcher almost set up a brilliant play from left back when he fired a defence splitting pass that was unfortunately just beyond the reach of Mullan’s forward run.

The lead was further extended when Neil Strong received the ball with his back to goal outside the 23 yard line and played an intelligent ball around the corner to meet the run of Birch down the right. The winger drove into the area and showed the necessary clinical decision making to commit the keeper before squaring the ball for Mullan to convert his second of the day.

A stunned Bank side regrouped at the break and put Romsey under huge pressure at the beginning of the second half, but Lozz Scott in goal demonstrated his value to the team with a series of fine saves. The highlight came at a penalty corner where he not only made a full stretch save with his arm to keep out the straight strike but also reacted immediately to deny a rebound attempt.

The game became increasingly end-to-end and Romsey made full use of their rolling substitutions to maintain a high workrate, snuffing out Bank attacks and producing several fine counter-moves that ripped through the tiring opposition midfield. Eventually the visitors made the points safe with such an attack as Forrest-Charde drove into the area and unselfishly tried to pass to Birch who had got in position for a simple finish, but a touch from a backtracking defender diverted the ball past the wrongfooted goalkeeper and into the goal.

With time almost up defender Joe Welch appeared to be harshly treated when shown a yellow card for what the referee deemed to be a bodycheck on an opponent. This resulted in a series of penalty corners as the last play of the game but Romsey kept them out and so earned a second successive clean sheet.

With five games each remaining, the relegation battle remains tight as the bottom seven sides are separated by just seven points. Romsey host Camberley & Farnborough next week (Romsey School, 12 Noon) and will seek to atone for the disappointing display given in November’s reverse fixture which saw them soundly defeated.

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.

Romsey Men’s 1st XI 1 – 3 Sunbury & Walton Hawks Men’s 1st XI

Romsey were deservedly defeated in Surrey as their lightning quick start fizzled out into a disappointingly lacklustre overall performance. Romsey were dominant in the early stages, pushing the Hawks deep into their own half as the home side were initially uncomfortable against the high press. The visitors had immediate reward for this positivity, winning a penalty corner which Joe Welch stepped up to dragflick past the goalkeeper’s left hand.

After the first ten minutes the home side settled and began to find holes in the press with their direct style of play, whilst the visitors struggled for fluency on the bouncy pitch. Needlessly rushed passes went astray causing numerous promising positions to be squandered, whilst Sunbury appeared the side with greater desire and won more than their share of contestable balls simply by stepping towards the ball.

Sunbury earned several penalty corners and only sharp work from captain Dave Miles prevented an equaliser, twice clearing the ball from the goalline. The home side were looking to hit into the area at almost every opportunity and Romsey did a poor job of protecting the edge of the ‘D’, eventually being punished for this when a deflected cross was gathered near the top of the area by a striker, who fired a shot on the turn and found the bottom corner.

The halftime whistle arrived with the scoreline still even, but Romsey knew they were fortunate not to be behind. Romsey’s general play improved early in the second half but remained senselessly panicked when it came to the final third of the pitch. The home defence consistently picked off ill thought out passes and even when Romsey did manage to engineer a 1-on-1 opportunity with the goalkeeper the chance was tamely wasted attempting a first time shot.

With the visitors unable to produce much of substance going forward, the backline of Miles, Welch and man of the match David Edwards were kept busy with Sunbury looking increasingly dangerous as they broke from midfield. Several high tempo attacks were snuffed out by the Romsey defence before the floodgates temporarily opened, seeing two goals scored in as many minutes after Romsey were punished for twice turning the ball over near the halfway line. Romsey huffed and puffed in the final minutes but remained toothless despite working the ball into the ‘D’ on several occasions. 

Romsey Men’s 1st XI 5 – 3 Southampton University Men’s 1st XI
Romsey got top marks for their performance when hosting the students on Saturday and in doing so got their crunch month of fixtures off to a perfect start. It was an entertaining and free flowing match from the beginning with both sides looking to play a positive passing game, but Romsey’s commitment to their high pressing plan made the difference as they frequently choked off the Uni’s outlets from defence and won possession in dangerous areas.
The early exchanges were even and Romsey survived a penalty corner opportunity as goalkeeper Lozz Scott and captain Dave Miles combined to divert a low dragflick around the post. The students had won the reverse fixture on the back of a superior ability to convert such opportunities and whilst Romsey failed in their aim of limiting the number this time around, they did manage to prevent the Uni from converting most of them.
The hosts went in front with a penalty corner of their own as a dragflick was partially charged down by a defensive runner’s stick, but the ball fell kindly for Romsey and injector Harry Goodchild volleyed the rebound in.
The Romsey back line of Miles, David Edwards and man of the match Joe Welch did a great job of keeping the hard running Uni front line subdued in open play, with good shielding work done by Goodchild and Rob Kerr in the holding midfield positions ahead of them. However the students turned several long corner situations into penalty corners as they skipped past flat stick tackles and drove into the area, eventually making one count with a low dragflick.
When the ball hit a Romsey foot outside the Uni ‘D’ the umpire played advantage, but a mis-hit from the visitors soon put them in trouble as Jack Forrest-Charde won possession. He picked out Lewis Birch with a pass into the area and the striker made no mistake with a deadly backstick finish rifled just inside the far post.
Romsey struck a crucial blow with the final play before half-time as they scored from a penalty corner to set up a two goal cushion. The ball was slipped right and when the goalkeeper overcommitted in anticipation of a return ball to the middle of the area, Rob Kerr showed a cool head to change the planned play and flick the ball directly into the exposed net.
It was no surprise that the students came out fired up after half time but Romsey did not help themselves as they often conceded possession too cheaply in the opening ten minutes. They soon paid the price as the visitors scored from a penalty corner, winning the battle for the rebound after Scott saved the initial effort.
The students wasted a perfect opportunity to equalise when the Romsey defence gave the ball straight to the Uni centre forward, but Scott was quick off his line to deny the initial effort and when an attacker following up failed to gather the rebound the hosts got away from the error unscathed.
Romsey improved their passing and punished the wastefulness at the other end with a fourth goal that was very similar to their second, as Forrest-Charde won the ball outside the area and slipped it to Birch. He again fired a reverse stick shot goalwards and whilst this time the ball deflected off the inside of the ‘keeper’s leg, it still had enough power to make it over the line.

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The home side seemed determined not to make things simple and gave away several penalty corners due to their rash tackling. They survived with one rebound shot hitting the post but saw their two goal advantage eaten into once more after losing the ball near the halfway line; a sliding Scott made a partial block but the striker had some fortune when the ball looped up for him to volley in. Romsey responded after good work by Jack Murray down the left wing led to a scramble for the ball inside the ‘D’, with Ben Mullan making sure of the points by scoring Romsey’s fifth.
With only one of the other sides in the relegation battle picking up points on Saturday, Romsey closed the gap and there is everything to play for as they face the other five sides in the bottom half of the table in the next six weeks, beginning with a trip to Sunbury this weekend.
Weymouth 0 – 1 Romsey Mens 2nd XI
Romsey Mens 2nd XI returned from Weymouth with three precious away points to lift themselves to 2nd in Snows Group Hampshire div 6, ahead by a goal difference of +20 of Havant, and just four points behind leaders Bournemouth, who visit Romsey Community School next weekend.
Weymouth proved very tough opponents in a closely fought match in which Romsey had to overcome the elements as well as the home side; a fierce gale blew continuously toward the sea throughout.
Martin Simpson-Scott drew two fine saves from the home keeper in the early part of the match, and man of the match Mark Gilbert photo 2was able to feed a number of perceptive passes through for both Chris Arnold and Carl Hendy to break into the shooting circle, while in defence, Skipper Stuart Robertson and Ben Parker snuffed out the visitors ambitions. They did manage to create chances, drawing a memorable double save from Craig Mellor in the Romsey goal.
0-0 at half time.
After the break, Romsey were able to find Simpson-Scott with long balls, but often with too much to do to trouble the home defence. Dave Andrews pulled off a number of timely interceptions to frustrate Weymouth in wide areas, and Romsey were able to force a penalty corner, only for Jim East to shoot weakly at the keeper.
However, the visitors were able to break the deadlock from the next penalty corner, where a training ground variation found Carl Hendy with the space to shoot coolly past a wrong footed defence for what would turn out to be the decisive score. Weymouth contested the goal, claiming that it was struck outside the D, but the umpires were unmoved and the goal stood. Clearly aggrieved, the hosts resorted to some rough tactics, East in midfield receiving some close attention, but Romsey stepped up their game.
Romsey might have dropped two points late on when Mellor in the Romsey goal snuffed out a 2 v 1, and the visitors were able to grab all three.

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