FA Vase: Tower Hamlets 2 Hackney Wick 1
- Credit: Archant
Tower Hamlets edged past Essex Senior League rivals Hackney Wick in their east London FA Vase derby at Mile End Stadium on Friday night.
The two sides had drawn 1-1 in the league five weeks earlier, but two goals from Curtis Pond sent the home side through, after another cagey battle.
In the early going neither side were able to find their rhythm as possession was often lost cheaply in the middle of the pitch.
Tower Hamlets always looked threatening down the right due to Pond’s pace, as he looked to force the Wick defence into difficult positions by running in behind. But the first clear cut effort fell to Wick as Hamlets missed a simple clearance allowing Matteo King to race through on goal, but his shot was smothered well by Lee McKnight.
Pond’s efforts paid off inside half an hour as a long ball from McKnight was not dealt with by the Wick defenders as the ball skidded through off the turf and Pond raced through and finished with aplomb, lifting the ball into the top right hand corner.
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Hamlets looked like they were going to take control of the match as they looked more likely to score a second, but they were not able to carve open a clear chance as they continued to exploit the wings, as striker Luke With did not receive any decent service.
Wick were able to claw their way back into the tie, though, as winger Saico Djop – who had looked threatening throughout the first half – began to stretch the home back line.
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Djop whipped in a dangerous cross that was missed completely by King, before Wick had their reward for their mounting pressure a few minutes later as Ibrahim Camara turned around 25 yards out and brilliantly lifted the ball over the reach of McKnight to level.
The visitors came out looking a different side at the beginning of the second half, pressing with more energy, hustling and harrying in midfield.
This helped them win a free kick, which was whipped towards the near post and flicked on by the foot of Samy Abdelaziz, but brilliantly turned behind by a diving McKnight.
Wick continued to control the second half, as they looked a far cry from their lethargic first-half performance., but their final ball lacked the quality to really split open the Hamlets back line.
The hosts began to claw their way back into the second half as their midfield began to regain control, with good build-up play seeing the ball worked out towards the corner of the box to Kane Wilson.
The winger was able to turn and his curling effort was well saved by Wick goalkeeper Manuel Gil, but Hamlets egan to turn the screw as they went in search of a goal that would swing the tie in their favour.
After a series of corners Mata Julio rose highest but could only glance his header wide of the target, but it wasn’t long before Wilson was in the action again, as he pounced on some loose Wick defending before seeing his effort from 18 yards out tipped wide by Gil again.
Hamlets regained the lead soon enough, though, as Pond’s consistent pressing paid off and the ball found its way into the back of the net after a clearance came off of the Hamlets’ winger midway through the half.
The goal did not deter Wick as they went in search of another equaliser and Simpson Mplampa came close to bringing them level as his first-time volley from 20 yards fizzed just wide of McKnight’s right hand post.
As the match drew to a close Hamlets were almost able to add to their lead as John Watson’s cross bounced and evaded the head of Blessing Adomah and Pond was unlucky not to grab his hat-trick as he smashed a half-volley against the crossbar after it had beaten Gil in the Wick goal.
Despite a late push by Wick, they were unable to create any real opportunities and Hamlets were able to hold on for a victory which they just about deserved on the balance of play.
They will host Thurlow Nunn Eastern Counties Division One side Little Oakley in the second qualifying round on the weekend of September 23.
Tower Hamlets: McKnight, Rowe, Waton, Tobun, Anthony, Kenward, Pond, Julio, With, Sinclair, Wilson. Subs: Odedoyin, Wright, Childs, Earle, Montiero.
Hackney: Gil, Adomah, Rebeschini, Kasanga, Abdelaziz, Mpalampa, Camara, King, Idemudia, Djop, Nicholson. Subs: Histrov, Arnauchkov, Figueroa, Sidibe, Massamba.