Saturday 14th January 2006
By Shaun Keddle
A well fought out draw which ended up honours even.
Many last minute changes again this week left us with only 12 players. Unavailable from the original team sheet were Sam Small, Matty Wright and Gary Harrigan. This then gave us the welcomed return of Dan Ford giving him his first game back since April 05, which released Jumbo into the centre for his first outfield game since May, a starting debut for Joe Oatley and a substitute appearance from debutant Terry Dunford, who has earned a starting position next week.
Tonbridge were fully prepared for this one, with 16 players available and looking to counteract the loss inflicted by us just a few weeks earlier. Tonbridge are a useful young outfit and have only lost 2 games in the league this season and are one of the best teams in the league. I am sure their finishing position at the end of the season will reflect this. The game took us a while to get into and the first 15 mins were a little scrappy with Tonbridge looking the livelier and sharper side. A 25 yard free kick after 10 mins went flying towards the top corner but Dan Ford produced an outstanding save to deny Tonbridge an early lead. After 20 mins we started to get back into this fixture with Jim St John getting amongst it in the middle and Dave Harrigan holding the ball well up front. Our defence looked comfortable and we were fighting for everything around the park. Opportunities started to open up for us with Adam Benningfield hitting the bar from a header and a dubious disallowed goal. Half chances also fell to Liam Williams and Dave Harrigan.
At the half we spoke about having to dig in as the going would be tough as we had not played for a month and all the changes that were stated above. The second half was mainly Tonbridge’s in terms of possession, but we looked more dangerous on the break and maybe shaded the better, more clear-cut chances. Tonbridge shaved the bar in the early part of the half, but it was excellent to see the desire shown from players with everyone getting stuck in when they had to. We worked hard and ground out a well deserved draw.
Overall I was very pleased and despite being a draw, I counted this as a little victory as we were up against it in terms of team selection and had not played for a month. We have taken four points off a good side and not conceded in either game.
Adam Benningfield got man of the match taking 11 out of 15 votes for an all action display full of battle and commitment. Adam will never make showboat, or outrun Stephen Hawking but what he does, he does very well – committed, 100% and digs deep when needed. Keep it up mate, one day you will be better than Tony Adams, or better still, your dad!!
What do we gain from this?
Jumbo added to the team something that we have missed and lacked. He wins everything in the air and puts a foot in when needed. He will add another dimension to the squad. He also picked up 3 votes which he more than deserved. I would personally like to thank Jumbo for a show of excellent team spirit and attitude. Dan Ford is back in the squad and it was like he had not been away. We do have a reasonable defensive record that we must look to build on. We have also learned to scrap and battle even with a depleted squad. We also have a couple of new, young additions to the squad which will only benefit our results.
Next week, we have a lot stronger squad. Sam, Adam, Matt and Gary will all be available for selection as will new signing Tony Whiteway. Terry Dunford did well in the last 25 mins, so therefore will look to start. Jumbo becomes an outfield option if we so wish. If we don’t have a game on Saturday, I will organise a training session, so make sure that you are available.
Overall a good start to the year and something that we must look to maintain.