Saturday 18th March 2006
By Shaun Keddle
A ground out and battled-for result against a very good New Broms side.
Earlier in the season we travelled to New Broms and we were very unlucky to come away with nothing after missing chance after chance, only to be hit with two sucker punches, due to individual errors. We learnt a lot from that game and employed a new sweeper system this time around which worked wonders against the pace of New Broms.
Again hit with the injuries of St John, Davis, Small and the absence of Dawson, our line up was Wright and Clark as the centre halves, Benningfield and Connelly making up the full backs, Pester and Harrigan occupied the centre of the park, Connor on the left of midfield, Whiteway on the right, leaving Dunford and Williams up front. Carpenter and the newly recruited McGloughlin were on the bench along with Mace and Shaunaldo.
Before kick off I begged for passion, commitment and effort and badly wanted a clean sheet as we had been beaten in our last three outings and needed a solid base to work from.
Right from the kick off it was clear to see that we were up for this one. People were committed into tackles and breaking sweat early. Effort and work rate could not be questioned, even though New Broms had the majority of the ball throughout the match. This wasn’t a game for many goal chances, but was still entertaining with Broms trying to break us down with every opportunity but a resilient back four organised by Clark was having none of it. The defensive trio of Benningfield, Wright and Connelly set out their stall early and stuck to resolute defending throughout the encounter. The midfield was working hard and covering a lot of ground and Harrigan was desperately trying to break forward, but the Broms formation of three in the middle, meant that Harrigan had to be slightly more defensive minded in this game. Dunford and Williams were hassling and harrying at every opportunity, looking to use their pace. On the break we did look dangerous though and had a couple of decent chances that amounted to no reward. The first half ended with New Broms playing the better football, but frustrated at the lack of opportunities and FOBG looking physical stronger with their sleeves rolled up.
The second half started and again we went at it with a businesslike attitude. An early injury to Dunford meant a change in formation, pushing the ever versatile Harrigan up front, Whiteway into his favoured middle position and Carpenter (returning from injury) on the right. What this gave us was the ability to make the ball stick up front. Harrigan’s first touch always makes this look easy, but his body position always gives him control of the situation which enables the midfield to support the play and gives the defence a breather. On 70 mins Harrigan broke through the offside trap after a clever ball over the top to beat the keeper to the ball and chip it over his head and into the empty net. A superbly crafted and well finished effort for Harrigan’s 6th league goal of the season.
With 20 mins left, New Broms, still in the running for promotion, pushed on in a desperate attempt to win this match. An injury to Connor meant a debut for McGloughlin who would have to slot in on the left.
The fragile lead meant the world to us and we defended all around the park to hold out for a well-worked for victory.
I gave my MOM to the entire defence for their commitment, concentration and effort. But above all that, they were composed and organised and understood the jobs that had to do. The players voted for Matty Wright, with also Danny Clark and Dave Harrigan nicking some votes. Well done everyone, especially you three.
In all – mission accomplished. We really fancied this one and worked our socks off. Everyone was knackered after the game which is a sign of how much effort was put in, and football is much more enjoyable when it is worked for and earned. We showed we can battle and compete against a very good New Broms side, who looked a much better side than when we played them in November. Along with Tonbridge, New Broms are the side to look out for next season. Best of luck to them.
No game this week, but the train to play policy as highlighted on Saturday is still in effect so your attendance at training is still required. As there is no game on Saturday, I shall organise a training session, so I need numbers. Seconds and Fourths are also invited to the session, as this will give me a chance to look at a few faces for the following season. Anyone at the club with aspirations of playing in the first team next season should attend or grab me for a chat before the season ends. The first team is not a closed shop by any means – Terry Dunford, Terry Connor, Sam Small, Richard Davis and Adam Benningfield are all a testament to that. I am keen to look at any talent at the club and that stretches right down to the Fourths. This is an opportunity for you to impress!