Sharpham Utd, a football team formed by those living and working on the Sharpham Estate, playing in only their third competitive 11-a-side match, comprehensively beat a resolute and determined Ide Green Rovers on Friday, May 11.
Nicknamed the ‘Yellow Hammers’ due to their striking yellow-and-black kit and their love of the endangered bird of the same name, Sharpham play a brand of football that is competitive yet friendly. In this match, both traits were on display.
In an 8pm kick-off on the Exwick 3G synthetic pitch, early nerves were evident from both teams. The experience from Ide of playing 11-a-side over the years shone through, with them getting the better of the early encounters.
However, whereas Ide’s possession came to little, Sharpham were able to use the benefit of youth and exuberance to their advantage.
Gornall tested the opposition keeper early on with a dipping strike from outside the area. The Yellow Hammers soon found their rhythm, under the fledgling yet confident captaincy of Obe Jones, who set the tone with strong running and high passion, scoring the first with 15 minutes played. That goal settled the nerves, allowing the midfield pairing of Caballero and Grimshaw to get their foot on the ball and find the gaps.
Pollard especially exploited space down the right flank with his pace and tenacity, culminating in a delightful half-volley from 30 yards, only to be denied by the crossbar.
2-0 was guaranteed via a penalty for handball, finished confidently by man of the match Gornall, scoring the first of his four from the spot. That goal did spark the home team to life, and for the remainder of the first half Sharpham were on the back foot, with a defensive line sitting deep, allowing wave upon wave of Ide attacks.
The central defensive pairing of Kingma and Anstey stood strong, with fair yet solid tackles breaking up the attacks and allowing breathing space.
In the end, however, Ide’s dominance told: a corner from the left met with a powerful header on the edge of the D, forcing a goal-line save, only for the ball to rebound into the face of Rayen and go in for an own goal and 2-1 at half-time.
The break allowed Sharpham to make substitutions to ensure every player got at least half a match. The substitutions, however took a while to embed, with Ide taking full advantage and starting the second half, now being played under full floodlights, as they finished the first.
Ide could have drawn level had not Skuse, playing his first match in goal, pulled off a stunning save to deny their striker when one-on-one. This moment changed the momentum, allowing Sharpham to regroup and create a better balance.
Pushing Caballero further forward and swapping the left and right back gave an outlet upfield, coupled with endless running from Caballero, Pollard and Jones.
A dubious penalty brought Ide back in contention, but Gornall’s superior finishing proved the difference: he produced a delightful volley via a cross into the top corner. With the score at 5-2 with 10 minutes to go, the long-time injured pairing of Ali and Gosling were given a runout to a raucous ovation.
Team manager Skuse said afterwards: “We’re delighted to win in only our third outing. We’re proud to play a friendly style of football, which seems to attract like-minded players.
“And whereas some clubs are struggling, we seem to be an attractive option – training late on a Wednesday allows family time, but is still popular with younger players. We have
a well-balanced youth and experience ratio, we play to win, yet always have a smile on our faces at the end. And these occasional matches give us something to work towards.”
Sharpham Utd’s next outing is against Cornworthy Rovers on Thursday, May 31, with a kick-off time of 6.30pm.