Beavers made to battle to beat Bognor
Max Kretzschmar’s penalty proved to be the winner as the Beavers beat Bognor Regis Town 2-1 at Nyewood Lane.
The Beavers had been behind for the majority of the first half after Ibra Sekaja had put the hosts in front in the 13th minute.
Just before half time Bradley Hudson-Odoi equalised after latching onto a misplaced back pass.
The Beavers held firm despite coming under intense pressure to extend their unbeaten run to 12 games and notch their sixth win in a row.
Dowse reverted back to the side which dispatched Chippenham a week ago, making four changes from Tuesday night’s win in the rain over Enfield.
Back came Michael Kamara, Josh Casey, Christian Jolley and Hudson-Odoi, seeing Jack Cook, Leon Solomon and Brendan Kiernan drop to the bench. Enoch Soganile is out on loan to Harrow get some first team experience.
The hosts came into the game in dreadful form, having not won any of their last six - now seven - but it didn't look that way as they came flying out of the traps.
Perhaps it was the added mileage of the midweek fixture, a game where no substitutions were made, but the Beavers didn’t really get going in the first half.
They went behind in the 13th minute to an excellent goal from the hosts. Ben Swallow found a pocket of space between midfield and defence to float an excellent cross that Sekaja rose to meet and loop a header into the far corner past Howes in the Hampton goal.
Far from galvanising the Beavers, this early goal seemed to unnerve the players even more. There was little fluidity and an awful lot of long balls being played.
Credit to Bognor for forcing this issue, but it was far from a classic Hampton performance.
And then, as seems to be happening quite regularly these days, lady luck flashed us yet another smile and we got our equaliser out of absolutely nothing.
Malechi Napa, who was excellent in the first half, pressed high and put the Bognor left back under a small amount of pressure. It certainly wasn’t enough pressure to excuse what came next.
Tickling a back pass to his goalie, Archie Edwards left it woefully short and Hudson-Odoi was on it in a flash to sweep the ball past the onrushing Dan Lincoln.
The circumstance may have been fortunate, but much like Kiernan’s cool head on Tuesday night to set up Kretzschmar, Hudson-Odoi kept his nerve brilliantly to slot home.
Half time came with the scores level, and Dowse must have been a strange combination of annoyed at the manner of performance and relieved at the fortunate equaliser just before the break.
His team came out in the second period with slightly more urgency, but for the duration of the match they never dominated as we have seen them do at various stages of this great unbeaten run.
Josh Casey was booked in the 51st minute for dissent, and was lucky to avoid a second yellow after some choice words were used with the referee’s assistant.
Casey is now suspended for next weekend’s game, potentially paving the way for young Soganile to return to the fold and start his first league game for the club.
The turning point for me was the introduction of Kiernan.
So often this season Kiernan has proved the difference in these tight games and this was no exception.
He was constantly looking for the ball after his introduction and made a couple of probing runs before winning the penalty in the 80th minute that would eventually win the game.
Kretzschmar took the corner short to Kiernan who had two defenders baring down on him. He flicked the ball past both and was tripped on the left hand edge of the box, just next to the byline.
Kiernan handed the ball to Kretzschmar who made no mistake from the spot, firing down the middle to give him his tenth goal of the season and give the Beavers the lead.
The game was never put out of sight despite two excellent chances. Both Kiernan and Napa had chances to double the lead and make the game safe, but both mishit their shots from inside the box.
As the clock wound down, Hampton were on the back foot. Keeper Sam Howes - who was excellent all game - made some very important saves from dangerous Bognor crosses, punching the ball away under immense pressure.
Despite an extortionate amount of added on time, the Beavers held firm to claim their sixth straight win, and move level on points with St. Albans and Havant and Waterlooville who currently occupy the last two playoff places.
A massive thank you once again to the travelling ‘Red Army’ behind the goal who made a real noise. The celebrations between players, staff and fans at the end showed how much the result meant to all involved.
It is said that good sides win when they don’t play well. Hampton certainly weren’t anywhere near as good as they can be and they won’t want to make a habit of these sort of performances.
What they will want to make a habit of is winning - by any means necessary - and in recent weeks they’ve done that in all different scenarios.
After the game I caught up with skipper Josh Casey to get his thoughts on a hard fought three points.
“We showed a lot of character to get the win. I think the three points were massive for us.
“We weren’t at our best in the first half and we knew that. The turning point in the game was the goal before half time - that we probably didn't deserve on the balance of play.
“We came in and Dowse had a few words with us and sorted things out tactically and in the second half we looked a lot more assured. It was a tight game but we definitely deserved the victory.”
When I asked him if the unbeaten run could continue, Casey was positive about next week’s game.
“I think it should. You need to make the most of it when you're on a good run and eke out all the points you can. Hopefully we can carry on and get three points next week and keep taking it a game at a time.”
Next up for the Beavers we’re back at the Bev to welcome Poole Town FC a week today on Saturday 18th November at 3pm.
It would be great to see you all there to help see if the run will continue.
Keep your eyes peeled for more midweek content, make sure to follow us on twitter @HRBFC and as always…..
Up the Beavers.
Archie Edwards (off 89 for Beck)
Sami El-Abd (c)
Ollie Pearce (off 69 for Muitt)
12. Dan Beck (on 89 for Edwards)
14. Jimmy Muitt (on 69 for Pearce)
15. Connor Tighe
16. Joe Lea
17. Oshane Brown
Taurean Roberts (off 64 for Kiernan)
Bradley Hudson-Odoi (off 78 for Solomon)
12. Jack Cook
13. Luke Sheldrick
14. Leon Solomon (on 78 for Solomon)
15. Dylan Randall
16. Brendan Kiernan (on 64 for Kiernan)
Bognor Regis: Sekaja (13)
HRBFC: Hudson Odoi (39), Kretzschmar (pen 81)
Yellow: Field (90)
Yellow: Casey (51)
Referee: Matt Buonassi
Assistants: Oliver Mackey, Matthew Russell
Man-of-the-Match: Charlie Wassmer
Honourable mentions go to Sam Howes who was excellent in goal and Malechi Napa who was by far and away the best player on the pitch in the first half. But my man-of-the-match this week is Charlie Wassmer. The centre half was up against an excellent centre forward in Sekaja, and surrounded by players with sheering pace but never seemed to be caught out. He threw himself at every ball either in the air or on the ground and on days like today when the attacking fluidity isn’t quite there, matches are won and lost on that sort of heart and determination. Great performance Charlie!