This was going to be an interesting fixture in a number of ways. Firstly, Old Herts had both their first choice and reserve goalkeepers unavailable due to injury and secondly Westmill Reserves were gaining a reputation for not fulfilling their fixtures (giving their opponents an easy three points) or alternatively playing their Premier Division players, when they did not have a match of their own. And today their first team match had been postponed and they had a full team plus three substitutes!
Continual and persistent rain characterised this match, but play started with an early Westmill attack, forcing a corner. Chris Burman headed the ball away allowing Park to make a run down the right. Moss at left back exchanged passes firstly with Chris Burman then Ben Want, setting Burman up for a shot at goal, his effort going wide though.
Suddenly on 6 minutes, the theme of this first half was set when a long and frankly hopeful ball was played forward by Westmill and bounced over the hapless Reeves (deputising in goal) and into the net!
Old Herts Athletic 0 Westmill 1
Barnes performed some tidy covering up at the back for Old Herts and Moss was required to carry out some good defending, before Grant gave a free kick away in the corner.
Shortly afterwards Old Herts were awarded a free kick just inside the Westmill half and Grant’s own kick was headed wide by Christian.
From a Westmill effort Reeves went down low to his left to push the ball wide and Barnes cleared the loose ball. Rob Burman came into the game and gained himself a talking to from the referee for a late tackle!
A flowing move developed as the ball went from Chris Burman to Reynolds out to Rob Burman coming up from right back then up to Want, who forced a throw in. Grant’s throw was headed wide by Reynolds. Barnes played a ball forward to Park who found Want. Want was fouled and the free kick was headed across the goal by Christian. A deflected shot was gathered by Reeves before Westmill were awarded a free kick on 30 minutes. The innocuous kick must have deceived Reeves as it went easily into the right hand side of the goal.
Old Herts Athletic 0 Westmill 2
Westmill had a further attempt on goal the shot going wide though. Chris Burman was fouled by a two footed lunge launched at him, but play resumed with Barnes, Reynolds and Christian combining, bringing Chris Burman and Want into the move.
Westmill came back into the game with a cross that was hit wide and then a long shot that was tipped over by Reeves. The corner was punched away by the Old Herts keeper and the first half came to a conclusion with an intricate passing movement involving Barnes, Moss, Want and Reynolds.
Brooks replaced Reeves between the posts for Old Herts at the break as the home side looked for a way back into this match. Rob Burman was taken out and went down heavily but no foul was given. Konnor Smith pushed a good ball to Want, but he couldn’t quite manage to take advantage of the opportunity. Smith now played a one-two with Chris Burman setting up Reynolds for a shot that was saved.
The Lincoln Greens now looked like they meant business, a good move down the right developed commenced by Rob Burman, into Want, back out to Park then back into Want. Westmill tried to come back into the game, but a through ball was gathered by Brooks. Smith and Reynolds combined, the Westmill keeper having to push the shot wide for a corner. From the corner kick there was a mad scramble in the Westmill six yard box and the ball was cleared off the line. Westmill launched their own counter attack, but their attempt went wide. It was obvious however that Old Herts were intent on grabbing the initiative. The Greens forced a corner, it was played short, Want had a shot that was blocked and then Barnes’ strike forced a good save from the Westmill keeper! Chris Burman headed the subsequent corner wide.
Rob Matthews now replaced Park and an early cross found Christian, for he in turn to head wide. The Green pressure was intensifying, Moss passed the ball into midfield, finding Reynolds who played the ball up to Smith and the ball moved over to Chris Burman, who shot wide. Matthews now played the ball forward to Smith, but his shot was well saved. The flow of the game was interrupted when there was a “handbag throwing” incident and Moss and a Westmill player received a talking to from the ref. Continually now the ball was being moved around by Barnes, Reynolds and Want, who were trying to set up Smith and Christian and Westmill were increasingly looking for breakaways.
On one such occasion, Grant chasing back slid in and cleanly took the ball from the Westmill forward, the referee adjudging that it was foul however and then taking Grant’s name! The free kick hit the wall and allowed Brooks to gather the ball and throw it to Barnes. Barnes made a strong run from defence, played the ball up to Smith, he laid the ball across to Want, who on 80 minutes made no mistake as he slid the ball into the Westmill net from close range.
Old Herts Athletic 1 Westmill 2
It was really now “game on” for the home team, but the pitch was turning into a quagmire in midfield and it was difficult to play a fluent, passing method of play, there was a frantic scramble on the edge of the Westmill penalty area and the Lincoln Greens were continually pressing, but Westmill hung on for all three points, when at least a draw would have been more deserved by Old Herts.
So an end to the “mini” winning run and perhaps an end to the chance of fourth spot. However team spirit is high and the semi-final of the cup beckons (whether this correspondent sees it is to be seen though!).