Sunday 20th November 2005
By Roger French
Having had a "where are you call" at 9.40am then being delayed while my car defrosted I was quite surprised to turn up at the Kidbrooke Park Road pitch to find only two other players there. Even though I was running late it turns out I took the better route to the game with the others being held up in Chislehurst. When we did all arrive we took stock of the team to find that we were down to 12 players with Toby Harlow having to deputise in goal. This did work in my favour as I got to play the full 90 minutes up front on my lucky pitch.
This week saw the return from injury of Kevin Wolstencroft with the addition of a new face as twelfth man in Colin Ebdon. The team lined up in front of Toby with Pat Mongelard, Ian Couchman, Steve Blanchard and Richard Cawker at the back, a midfield of Paul Scotter, Kevin Wolstencroft, Chris Ponulak and Chris Bourlet in midfield and up front myself (Roger French) and Colin Mant.
We started OK for the first 10 minutes and then just seemed to go to pieces. We lost Paul Scotter early on to a hamstring injury and also lost all confidence with passes going astray and missed tackles galore that allowed Toby Vets the freedom to run through at will. We had a lot to thank Toby Harlow for as he made save after save to keep us in the game as we just went from bad to worse. Toby Vets eventually broke the deadlock and it felt like that would be the start of an avalanche of goals especially when their next shot managed to squirm under the diving body of Toby Harlow to put them 2-0 up. However on one of our very rare forays forward Colin Mant took the ball down the right and after having had two attempts to get the ball into the middle the ball came to me unmarked to stick one in the back of the net to make it 2-1 at half-time.
We didn''t hang around at the break as it was too cold and our play had been too dismal to think about. Luckily things changed and we must have defrosted a bit since kick-off because we started to get it together. Despite the improved approach we suffered another set back when Toby Vets scored a third but we carried on and started to turn up the pressure. This was rewarded when Chris Bourlet collected the ball in their half, took it forward and scored a superb goal from outside the box to reduce the deficit to one goal. This rattled Toby Vets and spurred us on and forward with Colin Mant chasing the ball and Colin Ebdon getting in some good tackles and the lads in defence keeping their shape. This paid dividends when once again Colin Mant charged off down the right cutting the ball back perfectly for me to lift the ball over the Toby keeper to level the scores. This was good stuff and it felt like the game was there for the taking. Toby Vets realised this and upped the tempo and the last 15 minutes the game could have gone either way with chances at both ends. Our best chance to go ahead came when a long ball was pumped upfield which bounced just outside the box leaving me to chase a covering defender and the advancing keeper. Much to my surprise I actually beat both of them to head the ball over the keeper and towards the unguarded net but was very disappointed to see a second defender do enough to clear it from the line. This would have been a worthy winner but unfortunately for us it was Toby Vets that got the goal late on to take the game.
After a truly desperate first half with the exception of Toby in goal we showed excellent spirit to drag ourselves back into this game and very nearly turned it round. If we can play like the second half all through a game we will have a much better season. We have acquired three or four useful new players that fit in very well. We just need to try and get more players out on a Sunday morning. One more word of praise for Toby Harlow - top man for going in goal and keeping us in it to the end. Definitely man of the match in my opinion.