Horndean '˜not just making the numbers up'
Michael Birmingham was full of praise for Horndean after their 3-2 Wessex League premier division win over Team Solent at Five Heads Park.
The boss believes his squad is now fit for purpose and ready to push for a top-six place in the table.
Two goals from Robbie Tambling and a deflected effort from Jack Maloney earned the hosts a well-deserved 3-2 win over their sixth-placed visitors.
‘We were brilliant from start to finish,’ said Birmingham.
‘Team Solent are one of the best footballing sides in our league but we got in their faces and didn’t allow them to play.
‘We showed them a lot of respect but didn’t fear them.
‘Our work-rate was fantastic when we didn’t have the ball and we were at it straight away.
‘When we were in possession we passed the ball with purpose to create good chances.
‘We are starting to look like a team capable of opening opposition defences up and not just playing pretty football in front of them.
‘It is mainly about being willing to work hard and all our players were out on their feet at the end.’
Despite starting well, Horndean seemed to be waiting for something to happen in the opening 15 minutes.
Team Solent stung them into action when they took the lead after poor defending allowed them to fire in a shot from the edge of the area.
From that point the home side took charge and hit back with a deserved 25th-minute equaliser.
Maloney sent in a wonderful pin-point cross for Tambling to head in.
The same pair combined to put Horndean ahead at the break.
Maloney whipped in a corner and Tambling netted with another brave header.
Birmingham saw his side defend magnificently at the start of the second half as the students flew out of the blocks.
And after weathering the pressure, Horndean struck to extend their lead 10 minutes before the end.
The influential Maloney fired in a free-kick from the edge of the box and a deflection saw the ball nestle into the bottom corner of the net.
All the students could manage in reply was a fantastic long-range volley two minutes from full-time.
‘When I took over at the start of the season people would have laughed at the thought of us being where we are,’ added Birmingham.
‘The players here, however, have all bought into what we are trying to do.
‘We know we can’t win the league but we can still have a big say in who does.
‘The likes of Moneyfields, Portland, Blackfield and Portchester still have to play us.
‘We are not just here to make the numbers up.’
Horndean: Price, Wain, Leigh, Richardson, Smith M, Warren, Humble, Maloney J, Walker, Tambling, Hookey. Subs: Duffin, Smart