Beavers tamed by the Tigers
By HRBFC Press Team
Gloucester took the spoils in a hard-fought game at the Jezzards Beveree Stadium, which has plenty of permutations for the Beavers at the bottom end of the National League South table.
By Ben Morton
On a mild February afternoon in South West London, one of Hampton and Richmond’s most crucial fixtures of the season got underway. The Beavers’ consistent slide down the table meant that before kick-off it appeared imperative for them to avoid defeat or otherwise be in serious danger of being dragged into a relegation battle.
There was a tweak in personnel and formation for the Beavers, and throughout the first half the home side saw plenty of the ball but failed to create many clear-cut opportunities to capitalise on. The best chance fell to Casey Maclaren in the opening few minutes, who curled a shot marginally wide of the far post from 20 yards after some quick feet by Zak Joseph in the middle of the park.
As well as some impressive hold-up play, long balls were regularly won by Craig Dundas, but the remainder of the Beavers attack were unable to utilise the second ball due to some resolute Gloucester pressing and defending.
Leading up to the break both teams had legitimate penalty claims at either end of the pitch, but the referee waved away strong appeals from each set of players after tangles in the box.
The second period saw Hampton coming out with a real menace, with Joseph hitting an early sighter towards goal that went straight down the throat of Jojo Wollacott. An even better chance appeared just moments later, with a Marcel Barrington cross finding Maclaren unmarked seven yards out - but again his header was directly at the Gloucester keeper.
Against the run of play in the 54th minute, the away side struck after an inventive corner routine allowed Fabien Robert to lose his man and free to smash in a rocket of a strike from the edge of the area. The away side’s confidence subsequently grew, and only a fantastic diving save by Tom Lovelock prevented Zack Kotwica from doubling their lead.
Throughout the last twenty minutes multiple set pieces were won by Hampton, but much to the frustration of the home fans often failed to beat the first man or sail straight into the keeper’s arms. The introduction of Ryan Hill and Chris Dickson off the bench sparked some life into the team, but a last-minute shot into the side netting by the latter was all they had to show for their efforts.
After the game Gary spoke of how his players must understand they are now “in a dogfight” and was concerned by the “lack of quality” on show from his side. He was evidently frustrated by the set piece routines, calling them “edging on embarrassing”, although was keen to express how the team needs to “dig deep and stick together”.
Hungerford’s defeat to Chippenham means that the club remains seven points clear of relegation, but upcoming fixtures against fellow strugglers East Thurrock and Eastbourne Borough now gather even more significance in order to ensure the Beavers don’t need to be looking over their shoulders come May.
Featured photograph/Ben Harrison-Hyde/flickr.com/photos/bjhhphotography