Saturday 29th November 2008
By Colin Brazier
Following on from last week’s narrow and undeserved cup exit at the hands of 1st division Ilderton (hit post, hit bar, missed pen.) the Fourths turned in a superb display against AFC Bromley to get our third league win of the season.
There has been a much welcomed influx of youth into the team over recent weeks (I know that could apply to thirty year olds from where some of us are standing!) and in the short time the Lads from Lewisham have been with us they have made such an impact that it’s possible to see them bringing the club added individual and team success well into the future. For the present, though, it was good to see them all waiting expectantly in the cold outside the locked dressing rooms when I arrived a full hour before kick off. It didn’t do much good on this occasion, however, as the crew making their way from the club had trouble getting through the Bromley Christmas shopping traffic and didn’t arrive with the kit for another 30 minutes.
We were missing a few of the more familiar faces for this game, Steve Blanchard, Steve Viner, Christian Boyce as well as Aaron Kenton, one of the new boys, being unavailable from the previous week, and myself recovering from the effects of a week’s man-flu, heroically running the line with flag in one hand and toilet roll in the other (errr…that’s for my runny nose, I should add…). On the plus side we had the return of Lee Cross and Matt Gardiner, with the addition of Ben Tomkins, Steve Lombard and Piers Moss.
So the team line up was:
GK: Chee Yong Lee;
Back four: Ben Tomkins, Paul Burford, Mark Friend, Marvin Sinclair;
Midfield: Steve Lombard, Lee Cross, Chris Landy, Lawrence Kamara;
Strikers: Matt Gardiner, Josh Walsh;
Subs: Alfie Brenson, Piers Moss, Colin Brazier.
In the absence of Steve B., the Silver Fox needed to choose a new captain, and gave the brand new “RESPECT” armband to Matt Gardiner. Yeah, I know – he couldn’t believe it either!!! It turned out to be an inspired decision.
It was clear that AFC Bromley had selection problems of their own, as this appeared to be a much-changed team from the side that knocked our Thirds out of the Kent Cup last season. Another clue was the fact they could only field a bare eleven…
We started well, playing the ball to feet and winning several corners which were well delivered by Lee but ensuing goalmouth scrambles failed to produce the desired result. Bromley gradually got into the game and began to look dangerous themselves, and took the lead when a through ball down the middle was seized on and finished well by their forward. This was hard on us, and our game suffered for a few minutes as we tried to cope with the home side’s increased confidence.
For a spell we lost our focus and started to hit the ball long, but under the captain’s and management’s urgings we recovered our passing game, refusing to be intimidated by Bromley’s increasingly physical, but - in the most part - fair, approach. Lee, Steve and Chris began to work good opportunities, the partnership between Marvin at left back and Lol in front of him was especially encouraging, and Matt and Josh were constant threats. At the back, Chee and the back four snuffed out any Bromley attacks.
We finished the half on a high, albeit still trailing, and stressed the need to keep our passing going. Des would have agreed if he had been present. I thought he must have got lucky again, but he insists he was looking for kit for Piers. I’m still doubtful, unless he really does look that happy when he finds a pair of socks.
We started the second half well, thought we’d equalised but Lol’s shot just went the wrong side of the far post. The good vibes got better a couple of minutes later when Marvin played Gibbo through and the club’s favourite Terets sufferer showed the keeper the armband before hammering the ball past him with his left foot: 1-1! The belief just flowed through the side, and we took a deserved lead when Matt got his second with a fierce shot from 15 yards out. The best was to follow just a few minutes later when – my God, he’s going to love me for this! – Matt trapped the ball with the outside of his right foot on the right hand edge of the area with his back to goal, and in one movement turned and hit a curling left foot shot into the far corner beyond the reach of the keeper. A great goal to cap Gibbo’s first hat-trick for 7 years. Watch out for him in 2015!!
Bromley’s eleven were visibly deflated and were soon reduced to ten by injury. Des put on Piers to add steel to the centre, and moved Lee across to the right to make better use of his pace. With victory in sight we added a fourth with a well taken goal from Josh. I was urging us to slow the tempo and run the time down but my words were lost amongst the enthusiasm of youth as we continued to look for more goals. This week’s debutant Alfie Brenson was given an all too short runout for the last few minutes. To Bromley’s credit, they kept going and reduced the deficit but we ran out comfortable winners.
I got to the bar to see Des buying a jug – his first for 7 years…just joking Des…but then he told me our ex-Bromley player Paul Burford had given him the money for it before having to rush off. Cheers Paul!
On hearing the news of Matt’s hat-trick, Seconds manager Danny Saines promised a bottle of champers on our return, but this has had to be postponed by the temporary lack of said luxury drink in the club.
Oh dear, I had hoped to keep this report short to reduce Gibbo’s framing costs, but I suppose it’s just as well, with the postponement of other games at the club depriving us of the chance of reading Messrs Keddle, Wray and French/Mongelard this week.
Particular thanks to our intrepid band of supporters and to the referee, Signor Bernini, who had an excellent game.
All in all, a day of celebration and optimism, but this is only one win – let’s make it the foundation of more sustained success.