Saturday 16th August 2008
St. Lawrence 1 - 4 Guild Eleven (Reds) - McNally (41 & 49 mins), Havers (65 mins), Charlton (89 mins)
Edwards (GK), Morton, Simmons, Parsons, Judge, Evans, Roots, McNally, Groom, Havers, Moulson, Charlton, Gardiner
A good result where everyone looked more than comfortable.
After a headache morning for all managers and staff, those who met at the club for the Guild Eleven Red team, set off in a 4 man convoy, streetmap.co.uk maps in hand, heading for St. Lawrence. Some made it comfortably (Saines/Charlton mobile followed by the Moulson clan). Others were not so fortunate (Simmons following the Evans 3), whereupon I believe Sam owes Ricky for half a tank of unleaded after taking round all the hamlets within the Seal district.
Upon arrival I was happy to see Roots parked up and first on the scene sunning himself in his TT Cab, smiling on the phone - just like a true pro. Unfortunately, apart from Mark E, Rootsy was the only around and he was probably ringing someone to find out whether we were indeed playing St. Lawrence at their home ground. Remember, this was just shy of half one with a supposed 2 o''clock k.o. That''s how disorganised the morning was. The Judgemeister then appeared with 3 others following, dressed smartly in his canary yellow cashmere pullover. Shame in wasn''t thrown over his shoulders and tied loosely round his neck. Paul Parsons came in 4th, having had to travel via Flamingo Park from Farnborough, although easily beating the Evans mobile who, after leaving at the same time, arrived a good 10 minutes after Parsons. Work that one out.
We soon found out that the Cricket Pavilion changing rooms would not be available to us and were kindly asked to change by the side of the pitch. First noticed positive point. There was not one complaint from the Guild 13 and no verbal negative contributions from any ego''s. In fact, after a quick competition of "who''s wearing the worst boxers" - a game easily one hands down by McNally and his Spiderman/Superman briefs, we took to the pitch for what we thought was a brief warm up. We were then informed that the referee would not be making it until quarter past two. This gave us time to have a good team talk, whereupon introductions were made and starting positions gone through. We then continued to warm up. And warm up. And warm up. Shaun appeared briefly informing me of the Yellow teams numbers and quietly took Leigh Hawkes (GK) away with him.
Eventually the referee arrived and the game kicked off at half two. Mark started in goal, Pete Morton at right back, Ricky at left back, with Parsons and Judge in the middle. Roots and Evans centered the park with McNally out left and Bradley wide right. Bobby paired Spencer upfront in a straight 4-4-2. Charlton and Gibbo started on the line. Soon after kick off we got into our stride and I was extremely please to see what was being offered by everyone - considering it was an early pre-season friendly and the group had hardly trained together all summer let alone turned out for a 90 minute match. Judge was comfortable at the back. Parsons no nonsense as always. Pete and Ricky had listened to the team talk and were making themselves available constantly from Edwards and Judgey/Roots. Roots in the centre looked extremely comfortable on the ball, with Sam buzzing around breaking up play and making darting runs to link up with the forwards. Tom and Bradley were superb with Tom causing St. Lawrence all sorts of problems with the ball at his feet. Bradley intelligently kept his width on the right and got plenty of the ball, linking well with Morton behind him. Bobby dropped deep into the hole, picking up good passes from the midfield and Spencer was making well timed runs in to areas that pulled the St. Lawrence defence apart. We kept the ball well, didn''t give it away cheaply, was patient in our build up, and our passing and movement was excellent. We defended from the front with all personnel tracking back and making challenges. We created numerous chances in the first 25 minutes and were unlucky not to be at least 2 or 3 up.
Before the game I had decided to play the match in 3 half hour segments, bringing on the subs accordingly to ensure everyone got at least and hour or more of football. So at at 30 minutes gone, Chris Charlton and Matt Gardiner came on for Sam and Pete. Second positive note. No one quizzed nor complained and everyone re-adjusted accordingly and we got on with it. Pete and Sam were due to come back on at half time anyhow. At 37 minutes Tom received the ball down the left hand side and after cutting inside hit a killer shot which beat the St. Lawrence keeper due it''s pace and accuracy. A well worked and well deserved goal. At half time we talked about all our positives with some intelligent input from all players especially Rootsy. Again good stuff to hear and makes my life a whole lot easier when everyone is buzzing.
We kicked off for the second half and within 5 minutes had made it 2 with McNally bagging his second with a slightly flukey freekick – but hey, they all count. Tom hit goal bound from way outside the box and it somehow managed to find it''s way all the way through and past the keeper without anyone getting a touch. Nice. From here we settled down, confident of our 2 goal advantage. Spencer and Bobby battled hard up front against some tough defending and with little protection from the referee. Again both players held their discipline without fault, something which we had spoken about during the interval. At 55 minutes Spencer broke free and for all his effort found the back of the net to make it three. We then lost our heads and our shape for a poor 5 minute spell which resulted in a St. Lawrence penalty after Gibbo has been judged to have barged a St. Lawrence forward in the box. Mark was not forced to make a save though as the forward in question blasted the spot kick way over the bar. Roots came back on for McNally with Charlton drifting out to the left, and Ricky being asked to do a job at centre back for Parsons. With 20 minutes to go and at 3-0 the game fell a bit flat and legs were starting to flag. But that''s what pre-seasons are all about. Mark was called upon to make a terrific one on one shot/save but it seemed only a matter of time before St. Lawrence gained a consolation - which they did with 10 minutes to go. This seemed to pick us up a bit and from there on in we dominated in their final third with attacking midfield and forwards all nearly bagging. In the end it fell to Chris Charlton to break through and who cooly slotted home after a well worked move in the St Lawrence box.
A great all round team performance and one where we all can take some positives. Well done boys.
Man of the match: Bradley Groom with 4 votes - although extremely close with 50 % of players picking up at least 1 or 2 votes each which is always good to see.