Toolstation Western League Division One Match Report
Saturday 25th November 2017
WESTBURY UNITED 0 CHEDDAR 2
CHEESEMEN TOPPLE LEAGUE LEADERS FROM THEIR PERCH AS SUPERSUB CALLUM HABS THE HEADLIINES WITH TWO CRACKING GOALS
Cheddar’s Callum Ham was the talk of the Westbury’s Meadow Lane ground as his superb second half brace brought back full points for the Cheesemen on Saturday.
Interestingly, Ham who had left the club in close season to seek his fortune with Bridgwater Town and latterly Oldland Abbotonians, only returned to the Bowdens Park some 24 hours prior to the game so his strikes were dually rewarding.
The thought of facing the league leaders on their own ground was no easy prospect and the match had been billed as the ‘game of the day’ by the regional press, the home side still smarting from their elimination from the League cup the previous weekend, and had voiced determination to get their season back on track at the expense of their challenging visitors.
True enough the first half saw the home side force the pace, but to the credit of both teams, who showed obvious respect for one another, the game took some 30 minutes or so to settle down as neither side forced real chances of any note, despite United forcing six first half corners and several free-kicks, for which Westbury have gained notoriety this season although to their credit, the visitors defence were equal to the threat of the league leaders.
As the game levelled into more of pattern, the home side thought they had taken the lead on 21 minutes as Jordan Pinder headed home from a corner kick, but an alert match official Ali Francis noticed an infringement on goalkeeper Liam Kingston and the effort was disallowed.
The visitors themselves were unlucky not to take the lead on 40 minutes, as Craig’s Mawford’s thunderous 25-yard free kick headed towards the top left-hand corner of the goal, but his effort was acrobatically tipped over the cross bar by Lewis Porter, in the Westbury goal.
In a controversial looking incident as the minutes ticked away to half-time, centre-forward Adam Jones appeared to be the victim of a so-called professional foul as the all-action striker was laid prostrate on the floor following a challenge form Westbury central-defender and ‘skipper Dan Price, but the Cheddar captain, despite looking dazed quickly resumed his all-action to the contest between two of the league’s undoubted heavyweights this term.
Following a first 45-minute spell noticeably dominated by both defences, the game opened out to a degree in the second half and Cheddar began to force the pace, forcing a succession of corners themselves as indeed the home side had done in the first half.
Largely, the Westbury defence held firm but on the hour mark came a further controversial incident, again with Cheddar’s front man Adam Jones at the centre of the action.
The Cheesemen were gaining overall control at this stage, and this clearly frustrated the home side but as Jones, fed by an imperious Ricky Bennett, dashed through he was pulled back by the Westbury centre back, who only received a caution for his efforts, despite appearing to be the last man, to loud hails of derision by the Cheddar travelling faithful.
The boggy, leg sapping conditions were naturally taking their toll on both sets of players, and sensibly, Cheddar manager Shaun Potter introduced substitutes on the hour mark, with new signings Shaun Lambert and Callum Ham being introduced in relatively quick succession.
There is little doubt that these tactical switches changed the course of the game. Within five minutes of the introduction of Ham, the visitors were in the lead.
Darting about with sublime energy, Ham was causing mayhem to the Westbury rear-guard and the diminutive winger/striker dashed into the penalty box to finish off a glorious Chris Coombs cross from eight yards on 73 minutes.
Then, just six minutes later came the moment that will be talked about for some time.
Westbury’s Steve Hulbert strongly headed away Bennett’s corner as the visitors went in search of a further goal, but Ham was first to react.
Despite being closely monitored by two Westbury players, Cheddar’s latest signing, superbly pivoted his body, creating space for himself and from all of 40-yards struck the sweetest of volley’s that rocketed past the Westbury ‘keeper, sparking wild celebrations in and around the Cheddar bench.
This was quite simply an amazing strike and will be a candidate for goal of the season at any level!
With 15 minutes remaining Cheddar introduced lengthy injury victim Jake Harris, replacing the tiring Robbi Maggs, who himself had played his full part in Cheddar’s display throughout the afternoon. Combining with Jones and Coombs the former Weston super Mare striker was most unlucky with a stinging 18-yard drive that skimmed the upright. Ham who had formed an immediate telepathic understanding with Jones was close to completing his hat-trick on 80 minutes; Jones intelligent crossfield pass finding his co-striker, but Ham’s goal bound effort fizzed just wide of the woodwork.
The league leaders, understandably not used to being on the ‘receiving end’ such has been their form this season, finished the game strongly but Cheddar’s young goalkeeper Liam Kingston coped well with all of Westbury’s efforts and was well protected by centre backs Danny Griffiths and Nathan Best, who were all at their very best throughout the afternoon, as they survived a late onslaught to record a momentous victory.
Man, of the match: Nathan Best (Cheddar)
Cheddar manager, Shaun Potter summing his thoughts on the game to the club’s website, said: “What a result! I couldn’t be happier with the way the lads performed.
“It’s not an easy place to go, they (Westbury) have been top for most of the season, they have big budget, the pitch didn’t suit us, but we were outstanding, we never looked like losing the game and I thought that we controlled the game from the first whistle, all 14 players put in a shift and we showed that on our day, we are the best side in this league.
“We worked hard, were patient and got our rewards.
“The lads are showing unbelievable character, to maintain performances like this, week in, week out and it’s what makes winners.
“I’m excited about the group we have at the moment and I’m looking forward to see what we can do this season, we’ve got a tough December, but we are all focussed on the challenge and are ready for it.”
Two members of the team who made the headlines on Saturday, spoke with the website, firstly new signing Callum Ham: “It was always going to be a tough game. Westbury aren’t top of the league by coincidence however I thought that we conducted ourselves perfectly right from the warm up all the way to the final whistle.
“They (Westbury) didn’t really looking threatening going forward, personally I thought that they got men behind the ball and to be fair to them they were hard to break down.
“The way we (Cheddar) play is to get the ball down and play it out from the back. We had to adapt due to pitch conditions and playing conditions were tough.
“As a team we were solid defensively and good going forward.
“The first goal was a great cross by Chris Coombs and Adam (Jones) cleverly left the ball for the goal to be gaping; the second, well, I will never hit a ball like that ever again.
“I guess that Westbury is just the ground for me, but with that aside the feeling around the changing room and around the club is truly impressive and we are a SQUAD, not individual players and I am sure that we will do well this season and need to keep focussed and I am sure that we will get our reward come the end of the season.”
Next to give his thoughts was man-of-the-match Nathan Best: “I’m delighted with the result today, beating the top of the table side. The lads showed real grit and tenacity but most of all it was a great team performance.
“We look a lot more solid as a defensive unit and getting Callum Ham back gives us something extra which he showed when he came on. Long may this winning run continue”.
Additionally, the Cheesemen’s performance at Westbury achieved the ‘Team of the Day’ accolade from regional newspaper ‘The Sunday Independent’
Weekend Review – 25/26 November
Elsewhere on Saturday last, the Reserve team put together, arguably one of their finest displays of the season, at Radstock; here is Andy Wallis’s match summary:
Cheddar Reserves showed that they have strength in depth with five players out and backed up last weekend’s win at home to high flying Banwell to secure a second successive win away from home against second place Radstock Town Reserves.
A superb curling strike on 20 minutes from Anthony Cleave gave Cheddar an early advantage.
Radstock pegged Cheddar back on the hour but Harry Hughes got his second winner in two weeks, his determination getting the better of the Radstock backline and goalkeeper to secure all three points.
Manager Andy Wallis commented: “This was a huge performance from the lads, given that we were missing key players.
“The lads stepped up and weren’t phased against a Radstock team who had suffered only one defeat all season. I thought that we were the better team for most of the and showed not only belief but rea grit and determination. There were some great performances out there today and I thought that youngsters Ollie Hucker and Jay Murray deserved their joint man-of-the-match accolade.
“Ollie had a great first half and Jay was very assured at full back. We need to build on these two great results and get a run going.”
Meanwhile, also on Saturday, the ‘A’ team were beaten 3-1 at Congresbury although new signing Cameron Gray scored Cheddar’s goal.
And on Sunday, Cheddar Ladies hosted Yeovil Intermediate in the Somerset Women’s League Cup competition.
It was a difficult afternoon to endure for the Cheese girls against a top-class team which included international players, and it was definitely a learning curve for our Ladies.
The final score, Cheddar Ladies 0 Yeovil Intermediate 15.
A look forward to the weekend
Cheddar first team who have now recorded ten straight wins, this season and after consecutive away trips to Wiltshire in the past fortnight, then host old-adversaries Oldland Abbotonians on Saturday (2nd December) kick off 3pm, in what is sure to be a further test of character for the fourth place Cheesemen.
The Reserve team travel away to Chew Magna (kick off 2pm) looking for their third successive win and the ‘A’ team travel away to Uphill Castle, with a 1.30pm kick off. On Sunday (3rd December) Cheddar Ladies travel to Welton Rovers where they are to be hosted by Purnell Sports.