With both sides claiming an unbeaten record in 2016 something had to give! However with quite a bit of rain over the festive pitch it was a toss-up between whether it would be the heavy pitch or the over indulged players not making the full 90 minutes. Neither statement could apply to Captain Stu Smith who was given the arm band for his local connections with the visiting team. His ability to fly up and down the Hemingford right was displayed in immaculate style for the whole game. (Now if that don’t get me a cheap flight nothing will).
It was great to see Howard Kemp back on the pitch and it was not long before he linked up with Midge in a formidable forward line to set up Steve Hastings (Two Touch) who slotted home from close range. The opening goal was on the cards despite some fantastic keeping by the Houghton keeper who was brilliant throughout and went home with half the goalmouth on his kit. Despite the steady rain and unforgiving pitch the younger Houghton team found the slick passing from Hemingford increasingly difficult to deal with and Howie fired another shot which took a fortunate deflection resulting in a 2 nil lead. A spirited come back was possible when Houghton’s talisman Lloyd Howard showed his determination and skill by getting round the back of the Hemingford defence to cross for Jez Hall 2:1. This however did not dent Hemingford’s ambition who added 3 more goals before the break. Two Touch scored his 2nd of a well-deserved hattrick when he followed up his own header after it was saved by the Houghton keeper. The 4th arrived when the industrious Chris Parker raced away down the right hand side and superbly picked out Midge who does not miss from there! The 5th was arguably the goal of the game when Bed Sedgmore exploded down the left hand wing and cut a crisp ball back to the oncoming Two Touch who blasted it home from just inside the box, a stunner and keeper no chance. Hattrick complete and Man of the Match nailed on.
Just in case this score line may not see Hemingford through Kevin Anderson and Dippy joined the action, both fresh from their morning tea and biscuits. There was a worry that Kev may struggle in the long grass out wide on the left and the other players may struggle to see him. Would Dippy provide another sniper opportunity on this leg draining pitch? To be fair both settled into the game way and were a threat all 2nd half. Kev came close twice but the ball ended up in the same bush behind the goal, unusual for Kev not to score in such circumstances.
The action in the 2nd half was more even and when Houghton converted a keeping error there was a hint they may get back in the game but this was short lived when Midge added his 2nd and came close to his own hattrick which would have capped a great display up front. Another slip by Jardine, who explained that he is now returning the faulty goalkeeping gloves he got for Xmas, made the score 6:3. However the Hemingford defence remained resilient, excellently marshalled by the steady Mat Warren and assisted by the determined Kev Hurst; both competently dealing with the Houghton forwards throughout the game despite the tricky conditions.
Dippy thought it was time to keep his 100% conversion of shots on target to goals when he superbly scored from the edge of the box with a low drilled shot to the bottom left hand corner, 7:3. His other 6 chances did not count as they did not hit the target. Houghton then scored direct from the re-start with an exceptional shot from the half-way line that caught Jardine off guard, 7:4. Blakey quote rightly called an early end to the proceedings to preserve the pitch which was looking worse for wear.
Well done all those involved today a highly entertaining fixture on a difficult pitch but played in good spirit.
Happy New Year all.