Saturday 20th December 2008
By Shaun Keddle
Set piece Selmes goal gives Guild the points
On Saturday the Guild made the eighty mile round trip to Hawkhurst to play their first fixture for a month. The week leading up to the game had been yet another managerial nightmare leaving us with TEN players short; Williams L, St John and Cooke R all at a much welcomed wedding, Davis on his travels, Koutsoudis and Roots lost to long term injuries (both have had successful ops!) and Cooke J (Hamstring), Cleaver L (Back), Stevens (ankle) and Graham (Flu Bug) made up the long list. The shortfall resulted in having to sign three players on the day; my thanks goes to Terry Cannon as well as Adam Steward and Ben Slade who were promoted from the thirds.
On a difficult and heavy surface the game got underway. Instantly, the Hawks put us under pressure knowing that they must take advantage of the conditions and the slope. The Guild knew that they would have to batten down the hatches in the first half, dig deep and battle. The Hawks had a very large slice of the possession but with no real penetrative pay and nothing to work the 16 years Hawkes in the Guild goal. As the half progressed, the Hawks piled on the pressure which resulted in a number of corners which were well delivered, but the Guild comfortably defended. The Guild were restricted to the odd move on the break which never materialised
Despite having all the possession, the Guild goal was never in danger. We all worked as a unit and defended from the front with the hard working Perkins and Slade dropping off the front and assisting in the middle when required. The wingers of Cleaver B and Williams J sat back further than usual to cope with the mounting pressure.
Just before the break the killer goal arrived, completely against the run of the play. After a foul on the left hand side, Williams J delivered the perfected arced ball into the box and into the ‘corridor of uncertainty’. Selmes followed the ball through and finished from close range. A well worked set piece goal, straight off the training ground (well done Macey!). The Hawks were deflated and there was not even time for the re-start.
At the half we spoke about opening up a bit more as the slight wind and the slope were in our favour as well as us being a very fit side. The second half was a different affair and the Guild had countless opportunities to finish off the match, including four one-on-one opportunities but a combination of poor finishing as well as last ditch tackles by the keeper and Bolton kept the score to a minimum. Hawkhurst rarely threatened in the second half and Hawkes was rarely called into action. The heavy conditions were starting to take their toll on the Hawkhurst side and several changes were made in personnel and formation to chase the deficit, but with little affect. The Guild replaced Cleaver B with debutant Steward and Selmes with Moulson who had worked himself to a standstill. The last few minutes were comfortably played out with the Guild looking more likely to score. A well worthy three points were won away from home
Firstly, I thought the game was expertly referee’d by Mr T Bailey helped out by both sets of players who competed very well and the game was played honestly by two competitive sides
Managers man of the match went to Ben Slade. Ben was playing his first game for the firsts and had never tested himself at this level, in fact he has yet to play for the reserves! I had obviously heard good things about him and was impressed with his all round play. His was obviously very quick but I was also impressed with his good strength, back-to-goal play and ability to drop deep and help out defensively when required. He was also unlucky not to come away with a couple of goals for his efforts. Players man of the match went to George Selmes for a relentless performance in the middle of the park. George was competitive, quick in the tackle and quick to break forward. He bagged the goal that got us the points and supported the front two when he could. It was good to see George back in the early season form that gained him his recognition. Other performances of note were the 16 year old Hawkes in goal who kept a clean sheet and Lee Warren for some controlled defending full of composure
In some ways this was our best performance of the season. Given the circumstances, this was three valuable points. We battled hard and battled for each other. With 10 players out we were stretched to the absolute limit and this cannot continue. I consider FOBG an excellent football club and my team at the fulcrum of the excellence. I like to think that I run a good, well organised side who are looking to progress as quickly as possible. Having the week that I had is simply not on and it CANNOT continue. Having to sign on three players as an emergency is not the way to run a progressive league side. I appreciate that we are inundated with countless injuries this season but we appear to suffer a lot more heavily than most. However, we cannot control injuries and unfortunately they are part of the game. However, we must look to reduce the amount of time that we have away from games due to non-injury or illness related factors; as these decisions are in our hands. If we do not listen and react to my words, we will never progress as a team or a club. In order to compete on a regular basis, week in week out, I need more of my squad available, more of the time
However, every cloud has a silver lining and that came in the form of Slade, Steward and Hawkes who all put in sterling performances. I did intend to give Steward more of a game, but in a tight encounter, it was difficult to make any tactical changes as early as I did. I am sure that when he starts next weeks friendly against Borough, he will take the opportunity with both hands.
Overall I am very pleased with the result and a I am a happy manager. Lets make sure we maintain the momentum over the festive period, make attendances at training good (both training sessions during the festive period are on) and have good attendance levels for the friendly against Borough this Saturday.
IF WE CAN KEEP US THIS MOMENTUM IT WILL BE A MASSIVE ADVANTAGE OVER TEAMS WHO CHOOSE NOT TO TRAIN OVER THE FESTIVE PERIOD!