Ben Chapman’s superb hat-trick provided the perfect 70th
birthday present for Hoops manager Derek Hares as his side powered through to
the third round of the Buildbase FA Vase.
To do so they had to overcome some awful playing conditions as well as a stubborn Oxhey Jets side who showed why they are currently on the tails of the pacemakers in the Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division.
A delighted Hares said afterwards: “I thought the boys played really well in what were really horrendous conditions. Ben Chapman was outstanding in midfield but nobody had a bad game against a team who were no mugs.”
The players had to contend with gale force winds and driving rain which left deep puddles all over the pitch and made accurate passing extremely difficult, and it was the Hertfordshire side who coped the better early on as they took a 15th-minute lead. Carlos Simao’s shot was half-saved by James Tonkin and Reece Cameron reacted the quickest to fire home the loose ball.
But the Hoops slowly began to come to terms with the conditions and they got back on level terms with 35 minutes gone when Billy Munday’s cross was finished off from just inside the six-yard box by Chapman.
And the midfielder struck again seven minutes later when, following another precise right-wing move, Chapman headed home from Sam Wilson’s cross to edge the Hoops in front at the break.
They then came racing out of the blocks at the start of the second half and Wilson and Connor Coyne both went close in the opening minutes before new signing Matty Robinson fired inches over following another good move.
And a third Hoops goal duly arrived just past the hour mark when, from Joe Reeves’ low cross, Munday scored with a stooping header.
Oxhey Jets could only manage the occasional threat in response and, as their frustration grew, they lost Nick Kerley to the “sin bin” for a 10-minute period during which Chapman completed his hat-trick from close range.
Hares added: “I thought we looked the fitter side if I’m honest and that we were deserved winners in the end. The changing room was buzzing room afterwards and now we are just looking forward to the draw for the next round.”
Deal: Tonkin, Scott, Penny, Foster, Reeves (Hark 72), Munday, Chapman (Maughan 87), Murray, Coyne, Wilson, Robinson (Cardwell 65).