Match report: The Villians steal 3 points

A poor second half Rovers performance let Hanworth in to take the win

With the A3/M25 junction in disarray, it was great to see a good turnout at Rectory Meadow, but we’ve come to expect nothing less from the Hanworth faithful! The Villains have taken 10 points from their last 5 games and will be brimming with confidence going into this game. Rovers hope to improve on their home fixture against Hanworth earlier in the season, narrowly conceding a 2-1 defeat.

Another Saturday, another slightly changed side. With absentees and injuries mounting, Samuel Marks and Cameron Sullivan join the side, to fill in some of the gaps, plus a welcome return for Izy Nzelo. Joining Izy in defence, Antonio Simeone, Oscar Williams and Gideon Acheampong, with
Harvey Keogh in goal. Midfield, Ashley Sheppard, Ben Holden, Samuel Marks, Tyrese Osbourne, Jayden Smith and Lindell Stewart. On the bench, Cameron Sullivan, Mal Thomas, Aaron Jenkins, Charlie Martin and Louie Erotokritos Staussi.

The game kicks off presenting Rovers with a free-kick, for a foul on Isy Nzelo early on. Antonio Simeone takes, launching to the edge of the Hanworth penalty area and nodded across by Oscar Williams, but is well defended. Only minutes later, Simeone plays a great ball through to Jayden Smith, who passes wide to Nzelo. The left-back’s pass inside finds Lindell Stewart, who turns and strikes, by keeper Terry Buss got down to it. A good, promising start for the visitors.

With Rovers playing a high line, the hosts were caught off-side as they continue to rely on the break, Rovers pinning them back into their half in the early exchanges. Great combinations involving Williams, Ben Holden, Nzelo, Tyrese Osbourne and Sam Marks keep the pressure on the hosts, who looked like they weren’t expecting it. A great ball by Holden finds Stewart out wide on the right. Smith latches on to the first time delivery from Stewart on the edge of the box, turns his man, cues up a great strike, which is blocked away for a corner. Close, but not close enough. The corner from Osbourne is well defended.

After Gideon Acheampong gives away free kick on half way line, he more than redeems himself blocking an open goal effort from Kyen Nicholas, after the dead ball was taken by Buss. Holden sweeps the ball away, Stewart almost getting past Louis Collins, which would have left only the keeper to beat.

With 20 minutes gone, Oscar Williams picks up a caution for simply standing his ground, giving Hanworth a free-kick just inside the Rovers half. Sam Merson chips his delivery enticingly to the edge of the box, Harvey Keough coming off his line to defend. Nicholas is first to it, though, getting a toe on the ball and lifting it just over the bar. A close call, and the closest either team have come yet. From the goal-kick, Keough finds Osbourne, who holds the ball up, turns and feeds a great through ball to Smith, splitting the Hanworth defence. Smith skirts round the outside of his defender on the right, and from quite a tight angle delivers a terrific finish, just inside the left post with keeper Buss at full stretch. Rovers go 1-0 up, and just reward for their work ethic so far.

On the half hour, Holden gives away a free kick which S.Merson floats into penalty area. Unchallenged, Guy Ansah-Palmer heads just wide. From the goal-kick, Smith twists his way through the Hanworth defence, but is brought down. No free-kick given, but the tackle wins Rovers a throw. Holden’s delivery is headed out to the edge of the box by Williams, Simeone’s first time strike skims just wide of the post.

Rovers had answers to all the questions Hanworth were asking and looked comfortable in doing so. Their danger man, S.Merson, had a shot from distance sail over the bar. A free kick by Buss finds Nicholas in the middle of the park, his pass down the left to Ben Geraghty looked like a winner, but Acheampong blocks the cross.

With 2 minutes of the half remaining, monopolising on rare indecision by Rovers in the middle of the park, Collins clips a lovely ball into our penalty area, allowing Harvey to slip between to defenders, and slide the ball past Keough for the equaliser.

Undeterred, Rovers look to restore their lead, Holden taking the ball off Kyron Richards, and passing down the line to Smith, with Acheampong on the overlap. The right-back gets round his man, but his cross is deflected out for a corner. Osbourne takes, the delivery headed out, Ashley Sheppard battling for possession pushes the ball back out to Osbourne, but his second go is well defended.

The final action of the half could easily have provided a fluke goal to put Rovers back in front. A great interception by Williams just inside the Hanworth half, puts Marks through 50/50 with the Hanworth keeper. Buss gets there first, but the ricochet off Marks from his clearance, almost ended in the back of the net. On any other day!

The first half is brought to a close, with the game all square. Rovers knew that playing away from home, particularly at Rectory Meadow, would put them under pressure, but, apart from the momentary lapse in concentration, there were no signs of that in the first half.

The second half picks up very much as the first left it, with Rovers on the front foot. A great ball by Holden is fed through to Marks, his rolled shot pushed round the post by Buss. Osbourne takes the corner, the defensive header falling to Simeone. His square ball to Sheppard is blasted from distance, bringing out a great save from Buss.

7 minutes in and the tide starts to turn. After a midfield clash between Rayan Djouadj and Stewart, the Rovers man picks up a caution, the free-kick taken quickly winning Hanworth a throw within range of the visitors’ penalty area. S.Merson launches his delivery into the box, forcing a series of unsuccessful defensive headers to clear the ball. Eventually headed back in by Hanworth, finding Ansah-Palmer with the freedom of the penalty area, to nod home a simple goal, giving the hosts the lead.

Rovers appear now to have gone from winning the midfield battle in the first half to losing it in the second, and with an unnecessary caution for Nzelo, frustration is creeping slowly into Rovers game. The visitors defence now absorbing heightened pressure from Hanworth, as they raise their game. Holden is called upon to make to crucial challenges on Richards and Matthew Gbio, to prevent the hosts increasing their lead.

With an hour gone, on a rare break, Gbio pulls down Stewart 25yds out, but Osbourne’s free kick is headed wide by Williams. The first substitutions are made for both sides, Bruno Robertson-Tingle replacing Sam Mead for Hanworth, and for Rovers, Mal Thomas for Osbourne.

On 70 minutes, a good piece of skill from Smith just outside the Hanworth penalty area wins space for a square ball to Marks. Chipping into the left flank for Nzelo, the cross goes long to Smith on the left, who lays off for Mal Thomas, but his shot flies over the bar. Thomas again, this time for Acheampong on the right who wins a throw. Holden’s delivery is headed out by Geraghty, straight back to him, Holden chipping over to Thomas. His shot is deflected back to the right post, Holden almost turning it in. Stewart is then subbed for Charlie Martin.

With fresh legs there seemed an extra level of energy about Rovers, but it took most of the second half to get there. A good exchange between Sheppard, Smith and Thomas outside the box sees Simeone send the ball over the top, into the path of Charlie Martin, but his chipped shot is just over. Late substitutions for both sides, Aston Nunn replacing Collins for Hanworth, and debutant Cameron Sullivan replacing the injured Acheampong. Then finally Ben Merson replacing Nicholas.

Even with the 6 minutes added time, Rovers’ couldn’t find a way through, and defeat was looking the likely outcome, and so it was as the Referee brought the game to a close. For the first half, Rovers looked like winning this game and taking home the much needed 3 points, but the second half proved to be decisive, a shadow of their performance at the start of the game.