Kretzschmar double downs Enfield
Two goals from Max Kretzschmar helped the Beavers keep their winning streak alive on a very rainy night in this Middlesex Senior Cup tie.
In a match for the purists, Hampton ran out deserved winners despite a last minute own goal from Charlie Wassmer getting Enfield on the scoresheet.
After a relatively settled team in the last few outings, Dowse saw this as an opportunity to mix things up and made five changes to the side that saw off Chippenham.
In came Jack Cook and Enoch Soganile in defence. Michael Kamara picked up a slight knock on Saturday so Cook came into the centre and Nathan Collier reverted to right-back. Josh Casey was given a rest by the manager, giving academy player Enoch Soganile a chance to impress at first-team level.
Leon Solomon lead the side from centre midfield after hopefully putting his injury woes to bed, and he was alongside Shaun McAuley, with Christian Jolley and Dan Sweeney dropping out. Sweeney had been cleared to play by Barnet but he has a swollen foot and wasn't risked with another big league game looming on the horizon.
Up front, Saturday’s match winner Bradley Hudson-Odoi missed out with a hamstring complaint, meaning fit again Brendan Kiernan lead the line, ably supported by Taurean Roberts and the in-form Malachi Napa.
Enfield came into the game on the back of no wins from their past six games but you wouldn’t have guessed that from the start they made, testing Howes inside the opening minute.
The torrential rain really played a part in the scrappy start made by both sides, as it became increasingly difficult to play good football.
The deadlock was broken in the 12th minute in a moment that combined good fortune and exceptional individual talent.
A soft back pass from the Enfield centre-half was intercepted by the tireless Brendan Kiernan, who was quickly closed down by the goalkeeper. Kiernan kept his nerve when others wouldn’t have and, instead of risking a shot from a tricky angle, back-heeled to the onrushing Kretzschmar to tap into an empty net.
It was excellent play from Kiernan, who seemed to thoroughly enjoy his first start in a while for the Beavers.
The goal seemed to calm the visitors who began to play with increased fluidity, despite the appalling conditions, and began to control the game.
The key to this control was the high press of the impressive front four unit of Kiernan, Kretzschmar, Malechi Napa and Taurean Roberts. Their constant harrying placed more pressure on the Enfield defence who struggled to play out from the back.
As a result they had to resort to long balls and these were dealt with relatively easily by the impressive Jack Cook and Charlie Wassmer.
Most impressive at the back was academy player Enoch Sogadile, making his competitive debut for the first team. Sogadile seemed calm and assured on the ball and kept his concentration on the rare occasion he was called into defensive work.
The first half continued in this vain, and both Napa and Kiernan came close as the Beavers went in search of the second goal to kill the game off.
Kiernan’s chance was a particularly good one in the 33rd minute as he picked the ball up on the halfway line and drove at the defence, beating three Enfield players in the process of making himself some space in the box.
Unfortunately his shot lacked the power to beat the keeper, but again this was evidence of how much more dangerous the Beavers are with Kiernan in the side.
Half time came and went with no changes made, except for the weather which had more than made up for a brief cameo of dryness to absolutely tip it down for the entirety of the second half.
Perhaps this was in the minds of the players as they emerged for the second 45 minutes, as they lacked their first half urgency.
The hosts had their best moment of the match on the hour as the ball broke to their right-back on the edge of the area following a corner. His curled effort was millimetres too high with Hampton keeper Sam Howes well beaten.
The Beavers were noticeably trying to take the sting out of the game, deliberately taking their time whenever the ball went out of play as they could sense Enfield slowly creeping back into the game.
Rather than an equaliser, in the 73rd minute, the game saw another fairly fortuitous Kretzschmar goal.
Taurean Roberts did well to find some space down the Hampton left and whip in a dangerous cross along the six yard line. The cross should have been cleared but instead it fell to Kretzschmar to poke home and double his tally for the match.
Both of his goals may have been lucky but Kretzschmar’s display deserved that much fortune as he worked on and off the ball all night in what was his best performance I have seen in a Beavers’ shirt.
Dowse refrained from making any subs even as the game ran into the final ten minutes, clearly satisfied with resting players. The bitter cold may have been a factor, perhaps he was wary of how easy it would be to get yet another injury in those conditions.
Fair play to Enfield who didn't throw in the towel, but instead nearly came away with a result right at the death.
A defensive mix-up in the 88th minute allowed their striker to get in front of Jack Cook from a cross, but fortunately his flick rebounded off the bottom of the post and into the hands of a grateful Howes.
The Beavers’ luck did run out eventually in the 91st minute as an innocuous cross from the right hand side deflected off Wassmer’s chest and drifted into the bottom corner with Howes helpless to stop it.
That was the last kick of the match in a game that Hampton certainly deserved to win. The conditions didn’t make it much of a spectacle but Dowse and his players won't mind as they win their fifth game on the bounce.
After the game I caught up with man-of-the-match Max Kretzschmar to hear his thoughts on the win.
“It was a tough game in tough conditions,” he started.
“We said before the game we would focus on our pressing and intensity and the first goal definitely came from that.
“It was a nice easy finish and a great assist from Brendan.
“We were full of energy considering we played Saturday and we’re on a bit of a roll now so we’re all just looking forward to Saturday and keeping it going.”
A special mention must go to the travelling Beavers fans, who made as much racket behind the goal as 20 people can make in the pouring rain. It wasn't much drier up in the stand mind you, but your support was much appreciated nonetheless.
After another great result, next up we travel to Bognor Regis looking to extend our unbeaten league run to 12 games. See you there - either down by the seaside or live on twitter.
Up the Beavers!
Hampton: Kretzschmar (12, 73)
Man-of-the-match: Max Kretzschmar
As stated above, although his goals could be deemed fortunate his all round play deserved all the luck he got. He led the press from his number 10 role and was always looking for the ball in testing conditions. A really quality performance from him tonight, and after all the times I tweeted it tonight, I’ll be able to spell Kretzschmar on my death-bed.