Match report from Hanwell Town
After the close-fought encounter earlier in the season Town expected that this game would be a serious examination of their promotion credentials, and so it proved to be. In fact Hanwell began well, and Rob Laney tested Gary Ross in the visitors’ goal with an overhead kick in the second minute. However it was Westfield who went ahead nine minutes later, when Youssef Bamba latched on to a through ball and made no mistake. To the relief of the Hanwell support in the larger than normal crowd, Town struck back just three minutes later. A long throw from Callum Woodcock was flicked on by Gareth Chendlik to Rob Laney, who headed in. Game on!
Town went close to a second shortly afterwards when a strong run and low cross by Gianni Crichlow was almost diverted into his own net by Julius Mngadi. Two minutes later, up the other end, Max Blackmore went clear of the home defence, beat Hugo Sobte, but struck the post. It was then Hanwell’s turn to threaten and Gregory Hayden did well, when, facing his own goal, to clear another dangerous cross from Gianni. Hanwell then went in front, not long after the half hour mark, when Harry Rush ran on to a through ball and found the back of the net. The visitors tried to respond quickly and Hugo did well to hold a volley from Arsen Ujkaj.
Westfield began the second half as they meant to go on, with Aaron Watson going close from just outside the area. Hugo then did well to race out of his area to beat Bamba to a through ball, when the speedy forward looked to be clear on goal. Westfield were on top now, and on the hour mark they went ahead. Hugo leapt up to clear a corner but ended up flat out on the ground. The ball bobbled around in the crowded area before Watson put it into the back of the net, amidst Hanwell protests. Less than ten minutes later Blackmore slotted home from close range to put the visitors in front. A minute later the same player had a clear-cut chance to extend the lead, but fired wide. He then blazed the ball over the top when appearing certain to score, after some neat approach play. The number nine made amends however, just two minutes later, cutting in from Hanwell’s left and driving the ball into the net to make it four goals to two. Watson then looked certain to increase the lead but missed badly from close range. Blackmore could have had a hat-trick but could not quite reach a low ball into the six yard box from Ujkaj.
To their credit Hanwell, with all three substitutes on, never gave up, with Toch Singh in particular making some telling challenges and interceptions. Two minutes into added-on time Brendan Matthew pulled a goal back from Gianni’s cross. This presaged a frantic final few minutes with Town going close to snatching an equalizer that had looked highly unlikely for much of the half. With everyone up, Hanwell fired a number of dead ball kicks into the Westfield area. Ross was forced into a point-blank save, there were clearances from off the line and an appeal for a penalty. Where was VAR when Hanwell needed it?
The final whistle ended Town’s efforts and Westfield escaped with the three points that had looked comfortably theirs earlier in the half.