Thanks to Aaron Muffett from St Matt’s for this match report.
The lads returned to action today after the winter break and came away from a visit to Birmingham with an emphatic victory against Connect Sports.
There were a couple of absentees from the squad including goalkeeper Andrew Smart who yesterday completed a move to WMRL Division Two side Sikh Hunters, yet it was a strong squad of 14 that made the journey down the M6.
There was a start in centre midfield for Thomas Hamblett after an impressive second half performance in that position against City Church in our last game of 2016 and it was the balding stalwart who gave us the lead in this one, bundling home from a yard out after a great ball inside the full back by Andy Rowley had set George Tapper scampering away down the right.
The lads were moving the ball well on a big pitch, creating chance after chance and it was soon 2-0, Hamblett involved again as he advanced into the box before turning and squaring to the returning Kevin Humpage who swept home into the corner. We didn’t have to wait long for our third, Humpage getting away down the right and crossing for Captain Billy Scragg, who made the most of a poor attempt at a headed clearance by the Connect defender and sidefooted home with the goalkeeper helpless.
Just before half-time it was 4-0 as George Tapper raced on to a through ball from Scragg, rounded the goalkeeper, took on a couple of defenders and then beat the keeper who had raced back to his line. A great, composed finish from the #ChuckeryMessi.
Half time 4-0.
There was a moment of controversy at the start of the second half as Tapper’s long ball over the top saw Aaron Muffett race through to a one on one with the goalkeeper. Muffett chipped the goalkeeper and his goalbound effort was blocked by the goalkeepers hand, who was a full 5 yards outside of the penalty area. The referee awarded the free kick, with the Connect keeper lucky to get away with just a caution from the referee. Andy Rowley took the free kick and passed the ball into the defensive wall.
Connect got the next goal after a wayward pass from Muffett let them in down the right hand side. Debutant keeper Sunny Kumar made a fantastic save but was unfortunate that the rebound fell at the feet of a Connect player who finished well from 12 yards.
Unfortunately for the home side, there was zero chance of a comeback and the goal just seemed to give the lads a kick up the back side as we started playing some superb stuff. Tapper made it 5-1, leaving defenders in his wake after wriggling his way through. One of these defenders then fell over his keeper and Tapper was left with an open goal to poke home. The diminutive playmaker then had the chance to complete his hat-trick after substitute Sam Brackstone was taken out by the Connect centre half after bursting forward. The offence looked suspiciously outside the box yet a penalty was given. With the game won, regular penalty taker Muffett selflessly stepped aside and allowed Tapper to take the spot kick, which he slotted with aplomb despite the goalkeeper’s antics on the line.
Despite being utterly dominant for the final 20 minutes (even more so than the rest of the game), we only managed to score 2 of at least 7/8 chances made. Both of the goals were scored by the evergreen Humpage who also completed his hat-trick with two similar goals, both one on one with the keeper, rounding the helpless glovesman once before chipping him to finish the scoring.
8-1 it finished and as a good a start to 2017 as we could have hoped. Next week we’re back at home against a Zion Athletic side that beat us 2-1 earlier in the season in farcical circumstances on our part. We’ll most certainly be up for the game to show them the real St Matthew’s.