Saturday 18th April 2009
By Sam Evans
Once again we didn’t play well today but we ground the result out and took all 3 points. The game was quite bitty with lots of stops and starts and not many chances. However we worked hard for the result and can feel pleased with that. Stu started in centre mid following his back problems and Sam came down from the first team at right back. Leigh also jumped in as goalkeeper at short notice after Danny had failed to secure a goalkeeper 20 minutes prior to kick off (‘fail to prepare…’ and all that Dan…?).
Our team was:
Evans (CM) (Captain)
Subs: Morton, Godwin, Cross.
The pitch was in great condition after a bit of rain on Friday night but neither team took the opportunity to play much good football early on. The game seemed to be played at 100 miles an hour and from our point of view I feel that we need to stop trying to pass the ball forward every time we get it. It feels like we automatically look to play it into the channels for Russ or Spence to run onto whereas we have the quality to play it square and look for shorter passing options. Earlier in the season we played far more triangles than we are doing now. Anyway we didn’t give Elite any chances early on and took the lead after 20 minutes from a corner. Stu floated a lovely ball to the far post where Pragnell leapt like a salmon and headed powerfully home.
They equalised after 30 minutes when they hit us on the break. They were able to attack from the centre of the pitch and with options to the left and right they played the ball down the left. Taps’ tackled the first guy but unfortunately the ricochet fell to their striker in the middle of the box. He played the ball left again and the player finished well from close range. Then we had one of our brief spells where we dominated. They looked a bit wobbly down our left wing all game and I had already had one chance where the keeper came out unnecessarily and I tried to lob him, although the less said about that the better. A few minutes later we broke down the left again and I was able to cut inside and have a shot. Stu was screaming at me for a pass and I was about to apologise because my shot hit the defender. However the rebound fell to Tant on the far right hand side of the box and after a good first touch he struck a powerful shot which flew past the keeper. Another great strike in a season where we have scored a lot of impressive goals.
At half time we all said the next goal would be crucial and fortunately for us no-one scored it! As both teams tired, the second half was more open and the quality of football probably improved as there was a bit more space. Stu started to link the play up more and we looked particularly good when Sam and Dave put down their microphones and overlapped from full back. However we didn’t actually create any clear cut chances whereas they went quite close at the other end – Leigh had to punch a few crosses away and they also had a shot which just went wide of the far post. Dan replaced Spence upfront and once again looked dangerous – great first touch and good pace.
Later on Lee replaced Sam at right back and Pete replaced Tant in right mid. Our best chance was where Dan arrived late at the far post but wasn’t quite able to wrap his foot around the ball and it went wide. In the last 10 minutes we were really hanging on and all had to dig in. Our concentration and commitment was good and we saw the game out.
Everyone worked very hard today and that was reflected in the votes. Russ and Leigh picked up 2 each and Pragnell picked up 4. However the winner was Taps with 7 votes. JT has turned in two good performances at centre back and today he was particularly good in terms of winning the ball in the air and positioning. Taps has established a good partnership with Pragnell which has been crucial in our winning the last two games. There have been periods where we have been under pressure and the whole of the back four has done really well in not conceding at important stages of the game. Taps also had a great dive today where his ankles were caught and he was knocked off balance – he took a couple of steps before deciding to slide on his knees as if he had scored a goal. The ref gave him a free kick and I would give him 7 out of 10 for the dive. There was also a real heart-in-the-mouth moment when Pragnell was dragged out of the middle and found himself in the left back position on the half way line. As the ball bounced towards him Matt’s body assumed a strange position like a flamingo in pain – maybe that is what all those weird pre-match stretches are for – and he tried to flick the ball away only to concede possession. Fortunately nothing came of it.
It was nice to see Ricky Simmons in the main stand today and although he is still obviously suffering with his neck injury he was looking much better than the last time we saw him. Mark Edwards also attended again and showed his support. Mark hopes to be back for next week and has obviously been eating his spinach as that would be a fast recovery from a broken toe. Chris Charlton should also be back fighting it out for his place in the reserves next week.
On the SLA website we are not listed for a midweek game so I think that those rumours yesterday were just a bit of confusion. Next week is Chislehurst Sports at home. It is a 1pm kick off so those selected need to be at the club at 11.45am. Also as we will be finishing up before 3pm, then there will be beers afterwards starting at the club, followed by a few in the Woodman. We could then either eat in there or go for an early evening curry in the Village Cuisine if there are any takers.
Man of the match: Richard Tapsfield