Saturday 1st March 2008
By Shaun Keddle
A decent result against decent opposition.
Following on from last week''s emphatic victory we needed a good start to the all important March fixture list which would make or break our promotion hopes. This was a hard fought and competitive battle against a well balanced and organised Erith side, with the Guild coming away with all 3 points.
Preparations were good for this encounter and we started the game with the exact same side as the previous week. This is the first time this season I have had the opportunity to do this! Despite the good preparations it was Erith who made the better start. Erith had a number of big, tall players and we repeatedly gave away a large number of free kicks in dangerous areas presenting Erith with opportunities and hopes. In fairness, we defended the free kicks remarkably well but I hope it’s another lesson learnt. After 15 minutes a cross was misjudged by McKeown which fell to the left winger. McKeown’s recovery tackle was good but it could not stop the effort which eluded St John in the Guild goal and Erith took the lead. This was a wake up call as we simply had not got into gear.
After the goal we still gave away silly free kicks in important places but did start to get into the game more with a couple of speculative efforts. On 35 minutes we equalised. Excellent interplay between Perkins and Cooke, R in the middle of the park opened up the Erith defence leaving Cooke J free who finished well – low and accurate to the keeper’s right. On the balance of play, the equaliser was about fair.
At the half we realised that this game was going to be a lot tougher than first expected. We knew we had to knuckle down, work hard, battle and convert our chances when they came our way. The wind was playing a part in the game so we needed to get the ball down. We did not have a bad first half, but we knew we had a couple of extra gears to slip into.
The second half livened up, the Guild knew that nothing less than three points would be acceptable and Erith knew that they needed the maximum to keep their promotion hopes alive. We started the second period much better but on the hour came the changing point of the game; Boutcher, the Erith skipper was sent off for an off-the-ball incident. From this point onwards we pretty much dominated the game. We attacked with more numbers and defended with greater steel. Our dominance was shown when Williams, L smashed home an excellent volley from 15 yards out, beating the keeper at his near post. With 10 mins to go, Cooke J made his brace and the Guild''s third when he burst through unmarked and finished coolly past the helpless keeper. Warren replaced Cleaver, B and Pragnell replaced McKeown. The remainder of the game was played out in a controlled manner to leave the Guild 6 points clear at the top of the pile.
Once again we went away very pleased with the result. The game was a tough battle but we really upped our game in the second half and got our just rewards. Our finishing was excellent and after an initial dodgy 15 minutes, we defended with vigour and intent to protect our excellent defensive record.
Man of the match was given to Davis who nicked almost half of the 15 votes on offer. Davis had an excellent game against a big, strong, free-scoring centre forward who is important to the way that Erith play. It was a tough but enjoyable battle for Davis who just goes on improving and improving. Richard Cooke showed excellent battling qualities in the middle of the park and his younger sibling showed his class with two quality finishes.
The one learning point for us is the amount of uncharacteristic fouls we gave away in dangerous and important areas. Erith are a tall team and could have taken advantage of the situation, but deliveries were either poor or we defended the set plays very well. The positives from this game were greater. Our finishing was excellent as well as our second half defensive display. We were more vocal this week and we were clever enough to kill off the game after we took the lead.
As I stated earlier, this was just the start to March that we needed. STC is a difficult place to go and get points and Erith have only lost one league game in their previous seven appearances. They are definitely worthy of their 4th place in this division and will definitely cause other teams problems if they manage to maintain availability of players (which every club has problems with).
This week we have Old Bexleians away. Bexleians were the last side that turned us over and we must look to reverse that result and again walk away with the points in the bag. This season we have a better away record than at home and will approach this game in a rich vein of form. I know that a lot of players were disappointed with their own personal performances from that game so we must be well prepared and focus this time around. Our decent performances are always built on hard work and discipline and we must maintain those values if we have any intention of going up this season.
Let’s keep this mini-run and good recent form going
Farnborough: 1. St John; 2. McKeown; 3. Cleaver, L; 4. Davis; 5. Judge; 6. Cooke, R; 7. Williams, J; 12. Perkins; 9. Williams, L; 10. Cooke, J; 11. Cleaver, B
Subs: 16. Pragnell for 2. McKeown; 11. Cleaver, B for 15. Warren, L Subs not used: 14. Mace and 17. Keddlinihio
Erith 147: 1. Banelkadi; 2. Lee; 3. Attrill; 4. Fletcher; 5. Collins; 6. Boutcher; 7. Hare; 8. Nnamudi 9. Kirkland, M; 10. Lau 11. Allen
Subs: 14. Mandeville; 15. Moss; 16. Kirkland, B