Saturday 18th February 2006
By Shaun Keddle
A solid and reliable performance against difficult opposition.
With Chipstead already having beaten us 4-0 and then 3-1 last week in the Sevenoaks Cup, it was important for us not to let them complete a hat-trick of wins against us. Having learnt a lot from the previous week''s defeat, the management set the team up with a solid game plan. Matty Wright was drafted in to deal with the dangerous No.8 that caused us so many problems last week and Adam Benningfield partnered him in a chance to renew his acquaintances with the equally dangerous No10. On the offensive side of things, two strikers were used to shut down the Chipstead defence from playing the long ball - where they get a lot of success. Liam was switched to the right hand side of midfield to give us a direct and pacy option, a tactic that worked absolute wonders (gives self a pat on the back).
From the off it was all us, the long ball was reduced and when it did go long, Matty Wright and Adam Benningfield dealt with it comfortably. Terry Dunford and Adam Dawson were causing defenders trouble and Liam Williams'' runs down the right hand side were pulling centre backs out wide. Dave Harrigan''s strong runs straight down the centre were a problem for Chipstead and they never really dealt with them for the entire match. Good chances came and went, but we failed to convert - a real thorn in our side this season. Terry Connor, making his starting debut, looked very composed and reliable and got stuck in when he had to. However, it was Chipstead who took the lead after a deflected free kick found our net, following a collected back pass by Dan Ford. This was frustrating and demoralising to say the least as this was Chipstead’s first real attack of the half. For the remainder of the half the game was played at half pace with no real penetration from either side, but the game was there for taking.
At the half we spoke about tempo and urgency and we would have more success if we upped the pace of the game. The second half started much of the same way, with neither side really getting to grips with the game. At the back, the four of Carpenter, Wright, Benningfield and Connor were looking solid, with Wright playing a blinder. However, the game changed after about 20 minutes when Williams put the home side level. This really sprung a dead game into life and now both teams wanted to go on and win it, but I felt that the goal gave us added impetus and zest for victory. With 15 minutes left in the game, Williams struck again for his brace and gave the home side a 2-1 lead. The match was turning into a battle with lots of good solid tackles flying in and players really going at each other. Chipstead missed an easy chance with a few minutes remaining. Despite a few nail biting last minutes, the Guild held out for a deserved victory.
This was an important victory for us and it leaves us unbeaten in the league since 17 December. Obviously any promotion hopes are gone, but we do need to push on and have a good finish to the season and form a good base for the following term. Some good performances all round, with the back four operating as a unit, the midfield working hard and the forwards doing their jobs. Man of the match award went to Matt Wright for a real barnstorming performance at centre half, snuffing out all the long balls and really controlling the dangerous Chipstead forwards. Matty’s season has been blighted with injury this year, but he showed what a solid and reliable act he is with a tremendous and powerful display. Despite scoring two goals, Liam Williams narrowly missed out on the award and looked really sharp down the right hand side, a position which is new to him. Well done both of you.
Ok, Chislehurst this week and with so many players available (for a change!) I will look to shuffle my pack slightly to accommodate some changes. Traditionally, this is a time of year when a lot of players are available so please bear with me in terms of selection – football is a squad game and I will try to be as fair as possible, but I do have to be wise in my selections and will do what I and the management team feel is best for the team and not for individuals. Let’s really have a crack at this third place in the table and see the season out with a bang.
I love it when a plan comes together. Let’s keep this league run going.