Saturday 29th October 2005
By Shaun Keddle
The future is bright, the future is ginger!
A ground out, battled for result which really showed that we can fight and battle when needed.
Before the kick off I spoke to everyone about team spirit and the need to battle and fight for results when things are not going too well. Back to basics really. We have the technical ability and out fitness is unquestionable, but we needed to show our teeth a bit more and add some bite to our performances. I told the lads that I would quite happily swap some of that technical ability for a bit of venom. Again, with many players out through various unavailability and injury reasons our large squad was tested once again. We fielded a very young team, but a team I had the utmost confidence in. Adam Benningfield was drafted into the squad based on a number of good performances for the Second and Sunday teams. I was particularly impressed with his performances as captain of the Sunday team and rewarded him with the first team captaincy in the absence of Danny Clark. Matty Wright declared himself unfit to start, but remained as a substitute as a ''just in case''.
The match did not start well for us, we had plenty of the ball and a couple of half chances but Chislehurst went ahead due to another defensive error which could have been so easily dealt with if people opened their mouths. Despite going a goal behind we dug deep and started to get involved with Gary Harrigan leading the way with some tough challenges in sensible places. Gary is our smallest and youngest player but he certainly had the biggest heart and showed a performance full of fight which EVERYONE should take note of. Again, not to be outdone, Harrigan senior started to impose himself on the game and Dave is really starting to show what a good player he really is with some fine performances of late for both the First and Sunday team.
With the ginger kids leading the way, we all started to get stuck in and involved and their was even a strong rumour that Adam Dawson got dirty (due to the first flying header of his career!) on the same day as Neil Connelly. Lightning really can strike twice! Chances came and went for both sides but neither side''s finishing was up to scratch in the first half. I thought we just started to take over a bit just before half time, but came into the half a goal down. To be fair I was quite pleased with the first half despite the goal as we were playing the way that I had asked for, but we were giving the ball away a bit cheaply at times, being hasty with our finishing and always seemed to find the same centre half on our deliveries. Not too much for me to whinge about really.
Earlyish into the second half, a fantastic strike from a Chislehurst forward was brilliantly saved by Jumbo in goal, only for us not to react to the rebound and was stabbed in by the in-running midfielder. Somehow we were 2-0 down. The way our season has gone at the moment, we would have crumbled and given in by this point, but that was not the case.
Everyone rolled their sleeves up and decided to give things a go. On the bench we resisted to change the formation and we continued to push forward. We really decided to take the game to Chislehurst and throw caution to the wind. Chislehurst strangely changed their formation which seemed to suit us and we flooded forward but missed some golden opportunities to pull one back. With about 20 minutes left we got a piece of luck that has eluded us all season, a hard fought for corner caused confusion in the Chislehurst box which resulted in an own goal. This really did spark us into life and we now looked menacing going forward.
With about 10 minutes to go we equalised after a great team move involving Liam Williams and Adam Dawson which led to Aaron Carpenter slotting home from close range at the far post. 2-2.
Chislehurst seemed to be lifeless at this point and despite fielding a very young and capable side, looked very tired. The game was now a question of whether we were going to score or not. Every time we went forward we attacked with numbers and with pace and with urgency realising the three points were so close. Again we earned a corner which was drilled across the box by Aaron Carpenter, the resulting diving header by Liam Williams was brilliant to say the least. Liam managed to place a bullet header into the top corner of the net giving the keeper and defenders absolutely no chance. The fact that the ball was played behind Liam and he managed to get his cone head behind the ball and place it with such power was a feat in itself. To see it fly into the net made it a remarkable goal.
Altogether a pleasing performance and I could not split the Harrigan brothers for MOM, so it was dual awarded. The voting reflected this with all the votes expect one going to the brothers with Dave just edging it.
Two different types of performances really. Gary''s was full of grit and determination and really led by example while Dave''s was an all action display, neat, tidy and always at the right place at the right time and rarely giving the ball away. Chislehurst need to be given credit as well, a very young squad that will only get better as long as they stick together and will definitely improve as the season goes on, highlighted by a good performance from their No 7.
This type of victory should spur us on and really give us confidence that we are capable of fighting back and really digging deep when things aren''t quite going for us. There are also a couple of things that we really need to work on. A lot of defensive errors have crept in this season and we are losing points as a result of this. Two more defensive errors almost cost us dearly on Saturday and we really need to eliminate these from our game if we really want any chance of winning something this season. We need to be sharper and more decisive and we really do need to communicate with each other. I was really pleased with the battling and the fact that everyone got stuck in when we had to, we really did fancy this match right from the off, and at 2-0 down I was obviously disappointed with the result, but I was not disheartened from the performance. For the first hour of the match we did give the ball away a lot and even though we did battle back to get the thing back, its always a bit disappointing to give the thing away in the first place. We must learn to look for the easy ball and look to work the ball around the park rather than seek a glory ball at every opportunity. This performance also showed us that we can get a result despite having a lot of big names absent - Danny Clark, Michael Clark, Jamie Williams and Matt Wilson unavailable, Steve Pester and Matty Wright were benched and Neil Curd is another couple of weeks away from being fit.
Cool. Let''s use this victory as a springboard for further success.
Ps. We have been given a bye in the Sevenoaks Cup, which automatically takes us into the quarter finals in January. This week we have Westerham away who are riding very high at the moment, unbeaten and getting some excellent results. We must seize this opportunity and battle like we did this week. The following week we have a West Kent Challenge Shield game against Phoenix Sports. Phoenix were worthy winners of our league last season and it is an opportunity to judge where we are at. I have a lot of players available for this date and from here to the rest of the season I have some tough decisions to make. Obviously some of my selections are based on ability, but loyalty for matches and training also means a lot to me. Please be patient, as I have with you!