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  • Writer's pictureNorth Camp

Steven Schofield bagged a first-half hat-trick as a fired-up North Camp beat AFC Bowenhurst 5-3

The Chorley Crespo put the visitors in control early on, and although there was a spirited comeback by the hosts after the break, two second-half goals from man of the match Josh King put the result beyond doubt.

The game was a classic reminder of why we love Sunday morning football, with plenty of goals, quality performances, abuse from the touchline, handbags, the dreaded thought of ‘surely we can’t throw another game away,’ and of course the obligatory smell of weed wafting through the air.

Having not played since the disappointing cup exit at the hands of Frogmore six weeks ago, North Camp arrived early and, once Alex Barnett had worked out where to leave his bag, set about their comprehensive warm up.

Warm up successfully completed, on with the game, and despite the pitch appearing in quite decent condition, the recent rainfall meant it was even more boggy than North Camp’s Romanian keeper.

But if the ground under foot was wet and soggy, the away side’s first-half performance was anything but. The first 45 saw North Camp utterly dominant, putting in arguably their finest display of the season so far. Early chances came and went, with Chris Pike, deployed in a more attacking role than usual, clipping the top of the bar with a hooked volley after ten minutes.

A change from the tried and trusted 4-5-1 to 4-4-2 saw Schofield paired up front with Matt Butler, and both caused the hosts real problems at the back with their pace and movement. Both strikers had early efforts on goal, but neither really tested the keeper as the majority of North Camp’s early shots missed the target.

But after 20 minutes the visitors finally got the goal their strong start deserved, and there was little surprise who got it. A free kick whipped in by Barnett caused chaos and after Luke Gurney made a nuisance of himself in the Bowenhurst back line, the loose ball was stabbed home by Schofield.

One quickly became two shortly after as Ben Simpson channelled his inner Rio Ferdinand. The centre back beat a man, strode forward and played a delicious ball over the top for Schofield to run on to. The striker clinically rounded the onrushing keeper and tapped home to double the advantage.

Such was the dominance on display, North Camp’s back line had very little to do, although Bogdan Chitu did find time to invent his own personal take on the backheels only tradition. When attempting a pass to Simpson with his instep, he somehow managed to backheel the ball out for a corner. Nothing came of it though, and that was about it for Bowenhurst’s attackers in the first half.

Back down to the business end then, and the visitors continued to carve open the home side’s defence, looking to put the game to bed before half time. Pike, who could have gone down inside the box earlier in the game but elected to stay on his feet, this time got clattered just outside the area. The loose ball found Barnett with an open route to goal, but, much to the winger’s dismay, the whistle had already gone. Barnett’s free kick was blocked and the follow up was again dragged wide by Pike.

By this point Bowenhurst were like a boxer on the ropes, praying for the bell to save them. The referee did blow his whistle shortly after, but unfortunately for the hosts it wasn’t for half time but for a penalty kick, as ‘Ste got chopped,’ ‘stonewall,’ ‘absolutely chopped.’ ‘Chorley chopper got chopped.’ The referee awarded it immediately, but that didn’t stop Ed Simpkin from storming on to the loose ball and thundering an effort off the post.

Anyway, up-stepped Joe Schoenwerth looking to make it 3-0, however the keeper guessed correctly/had done his research and palmed away the well-struck kick. It seems he may have been watching Schoenwerth’s pre-game routine...

But, much like a standing eight count only offering brief respite, North Camp immediately went back in for the kill. Pike’s whipped corner was met emphatically by Schofield, who powered home the header to complete his hattrick and give the visitors the third goal they deserved.

Half time came and went, and Bowenhurst came out swinging in round two. Within minutes of the restart a ball was played in from the left, and although Chitu produced a brilliant save to deny the first effort, he was powerless to stop the rebound. 3-1

North Camp sought to ensure that was just a blip, and the killer combination of Butler and Schofield should have combined for the latter’s fourth goal, but he could only screw an effort wide after a magnificent through ball from his strike partner.

The lead was restored shortly after though, as a quick throw in from Barnett found King down the right. The marauding midfielder nipped past one defender before continuing into the box and sliding a composed finish past the keeper.

The pattern in North Camp’s three losses prior to lockdown had been strong first halves followed by weaker second halves, and the worrying trend continued here as the hosts found a second wind. Cheered on by an enthusiastic selection of wives, girlfriends and mothers that made for some particularly dire chat on the touchline, Bowenhurst took the game to the visitors and reduced the deficit just after the hour mark. Chitu couldn’t hold on to an initial effort and although the ball broke to Taylor Johnson, an attacker nipped in to reduce their arrears.

And if North Camp nerves were getting frayed at 4-2, their bumholes were well and truly twitching a few minutes later when a piledriver of a shot from 25 yards could only be palmed into the corner of the net by Chitu. Game well and truly on.

As the game moved into the final quarter of an hour it became an increasingly tetchy affair, with the referee doing his bit for the league’s bank account, producing a plethora of yellow cards for poorly timed tackles and a little argie bargie.

The home side carried on chucking everything they could forwards, raining crosses into the box and keeping the pressure on. The visitors were reduced to the odd counter attack, although Dan Knight almost made one of them work as he went on a strong run but just couldn’t quite find fellow substitute Peter Jarmyn at the end.

But North Camp stood firm defensively and were rewarded in injury time with a fifth goal that settled any last-minute nerves. Pike, back on for the injured Tom Crook who showed some impressive touches before being forced off, received Gurney’s throw in and managed to wriggle free of a couple of defenders before teeing up the onrushing King to slot home. The goal capped a vintage performance from the Glasgow Gattuso, who, along with the ever-majestic Tom Dallison beside him, dominated the vast majority of the game. As such, the Flying Scotsman was awarded the Webbers MOTM Award.

That wasn’t quite the end of the action though, as the referee earnt himself an even juicier spot of commission by showing Knight a red card after the final whistle for a little tête-à-tête with a seemingly upset Bowenhurst player.

The win keeps North Camp in third place in the table, as pointed out last week by @webbyy93, because Farnborough Athletic did indeed beat the all-talk-but-no-action Rectory Road. North Camp do have a game in hand though, and with five wins from six in the league so far, are in a very strong position. They’ll hope to improve their record next week as they travel to FC Phoenix for the last game before Christmas.


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