Beavers held by the Tigers despite dominant display
Hampton and Richmond were held to a disappointing 0-0 draw away at Gloucester City as they couldn’t make the most of large periods of dominance.
By Peter White
Conditions played a part from the off, with the wind dictating the path of the football every time it was pumped up into the air. The nature of the sandy pitch was also tough for the players to adapt to, with members of both sides struggling to cope with the bobble of the ball and the grip available on the pitch.
Nevertheless, backed by another commendable away following, the Beavers looked like the better side as they tried to exert their authority on the game. Ricky Wellard fed Rhys Murrell-Williamson and Chris Dickson as Hampton looked to keep the ball on the deck and they managed to force a number of half-chances.
With 10 minutes gone, Gloucester were forced into their first change after Noah Smerdon was hurt in a crunching 50/50 battle with Luke Ruddick. Smurden was replaced Odin Bailey.
To the boys’ credit, there was no sign of a hangover from Tuesday night and in the 14th minute, the Beavers created the first real chance of the game. Danny Uchechi opened up the Gloucester defence with a neat through ball to Murrell-Williamson, who looped a cross into the path of Jack Connors. His half-volley went just wide of the target, but summed up a good spell of pressure from the away side.
The hosts slowly worked their way into the game and Tom Lovelock had his hands on the ball for the first time in the 18th minute when a searching Harry Williams cross fell comfortably into his path.
But the change in shape adopted by manager Gary McCann before the game seemed to be suiting the Beavers. Ruddick and Uchechi were enjoying plenty of space down the right channel and Murrell-Williamson and Dickson were thorns in the Gloucester defence playing off of the last man.
As the game drifted towards the half-hour mark, the Tigers enjoyed a good spell of possession. But the Beavers’s defence held tight as Ruddick and the returning Simon Downer were equal to any threat to the away goal, Ruddick clearing after a scramble in the box following a Williams cross 10 minutes before the break.
The best chance of the half fell to Dickson in the 39th minute as Murrell-Williamson utilised the space on the right and directed a cross to the Beavers top scorer. Dickson was left unmarked but the ball was slightly behind him and he did well to steer it just over the top of the crossbar.
With Hampton carrying the momentum, half-time was almost an unwelcome break in play. Referee James Durkin called a halt on the first period, but the Beavers left the field knowing they had been the better side in testing conditions.
The second half had a fiery start to it with both sides clearly understanding the importance of the game. Joe Hanks was penalised after a clash of heads with Connors, before Beavers midfielder Sam Cox was the first player to be put into the book in the 48th minute for a fierce tackle.
But the Beavers once again gradually took a hold of the game and began to test the Gloucester defence. A smart one-two between Wellard and Connors almost released Dickson in the Tigers area. The striker then found himself unmarked in a dangerous position, but just couldn’t get the ball out from under his feet.
Gloucester made their second change of the match in the 53rd minute when the largely anonymous Andre Wright was replaced by Jake Jackson as the Tigers looked to work their way back into the game.
But Hampton were straight back in their faces and skipper Wellard forced a fine save from Jojo Wollacott after working himself into some space on the edge of his area. His fierce drive in the 65th minute was fizzing straight into the top left corner, but the goalkeeper kept the game all-square with the Beavers now really pushing for the opener.
With the away side on top, Gary McCann looked to add some more firepower to the attack and Karl Oliyide was introduced to make his debut in place of Murrell-Williamson in the 72nd minute. Williams was taken off for Zaid Husani at the same time for the home side.
Connors was forced off in the 77th minute with an injury, but was replaced by yet another attacker in Ogo Obi. The Beavers continued to press and Uchechi caused panic in the Gloucester area with a searching free-kick, but a constant stream of Hampton pressure failed to carve out any real goal-scoring opportunities.
The Beavers were duly reminded of their defensive duties in the 82nd minutes as Husani sent a shot just wide of Lovelock’s post. The goalkeeper then spilled a Hanks free-kick but managed to collect the ball and set up another Hampton attack.
With just two minutes to go, Uchechi was replaced by Nathan Mavila with McCann taking the last throw of the dice to try and make the most of his side’s dominance. But there was no time for the replacement to make an impact and the referee drew a close to the game.
The Beavers end a run of four away league defeats, but will feel they deserved more out of a game that they dominated for large periods.
Manager’ s reaction:
“It’s very hard to criticise the players when the surface is as bad as that. It wasn’t a great spectacle but the big positive is that we’ve now got back-to-back clean sheets sandwiched between the heavy defeat on Tuesday.
“We’ve got a few options now. You can see we’re suffering with confidence in key areas but there’s enough firepower there.”
The Beavers are back in action at home to Bedfont Sports in the Senior Challenge Cup on December 11 at 19:45.