Saturday 1st April 2006
By Shaun Keddle
A good result against a resilient Bexleians side.
Judging by results, Bexleians had improved greatly since we convincingly beat them 6-0 early in the season and with only four points separating the two teams it was going to be a close encounter.
With Dunford & Connor ruled out through injury, Dawson unavailable and St John suspended, we still managed to get out a very good starting eleven, although we did lack pace in midfield. We stuck with the same back four that did not concede against New Broms, which is the first time that I have had the opportunity to do so. In hindsight, it’s a move that I should have implemented earlier in the season, but some of the time, lack of opportunity prevented me in doing so.
The back four of Benningfield, Clark, Wright and Connelly was supported by the midfield of Whiteway, Pester, Carpenter and McGloughlin, leaving Williams and Harrigan (in his new silver slippers) up front. Small, Davis, Mace and Keddlinhio warmed the bench.
The game kicked off with the Guild kicking into the strong wind and found themselves under pressure mainly due to the conditions. The ball was hanging up in the wind, letting Bexleians players run onto it. The first half was all about patience and graft, but we did seem to lack urgency in places. Bexleians had most of the ball in the first half, with the Guild happy with quick breakaways, utilising the pace of Harrigan and Williams. The first half had a very end-of-season feel to it, and was in need of a goal. Bexleians had a couple of half chances that were squandered and the half ended 0-0. Bexleians at this stage looked the better side, but the Guild were the happier as they new the strong wind was playing a huge part in the game.
At the half we spoke about urgency and upping the pace of the game. We also spoke about being sensible with our passes and to bear in mind the conditions. A tactical substitution was made just after the half, when we realised that Carpenter was actually on the pitch!! Davis, although not fully fit was bought in on the left hand side of midfield pushing McGloughlin out to his more favoured right hand side. The second half was a different story - two clinical finishes from Harrigan in his new silver slippers saw us go two up, after good work from McGloughlin and then Williams. Even though we looked comfortable after this, Bexleians kept to the task and worked hard against the wind. With about 20 minutes gone, Bexleians earned a penalty after Ford bought down their striker in the box. Ford was unlucky not to save the kick after getting his right sided bunch of bananas to the ball, but was unable to keep it out. Bexleians now realised they were back in it and pushed forward and a great save down low by his left bunch by Ford kept the Guild ahead. Small, returning from an injury replaced Benningfield who himself was injured after a nasty looking tackle. Guild then realised then the danger from Bexleians was meaningful and upped their efforts and we were rewarded with about 8 minutes remaining when Harrigan completed his hat trick with a neat finish at the far post.
Again Bexleians continued to press although time was against them and with a couple of minutes to go, Ford launched a huge kick from just outside his own 6 yard box for Williams to chase. The sheer length of the kick teamed with the assistance from the windy conditions bounced straight over the keeper''s head and towards the empty net. Williams, seeing an opportunity to bag an easy finish was in hot pursuit of the ball, but the ball just beat Williams into the net leaving our keeper to celebrate. Amazingly enough, Ford became our joint-fourth highest goal scorer, who was in the squad for that day. We still have yet to see a goal from a defender! (much to Matty’s annoyance).
It finished 4-1 and although I felt we deserved the victory, the scoreline may have flattered us slightly.
Man of the match was Harrigan who walked away with around 11 of the 17 votes available, with MGloughlin notching a few as well. Well done to Dave who really showed us a clinical display of good finishing. Kevin worked very hard on his starting debut and was heavily involved in the early goals. Performances like that can only do yourselves favours in terms of team selection – the defence also worked very hard as a unit and again I will look to play them from the start on our next game, provided training is attended and there are no injuries!
On a personal note, I would like to thank the players for their response over the last two games. Despite not in the running for anything this year I pleaded with better performances in our last 5 games. There is plenty of work to do still and we still have three remaining games where we will have to work hard for the results and finish the season on a high. The fixtures have not gone our way this season and again we miss a week. The fixtures really do need sorting out.
We have training up at the Priory for the next two weeks, before we move back to the club for the remaining weeks of the season.
Well done in all - Meridian up next at home, let''s make it a hat trick of wins!
I will place a bet with any player playing in a defensive position that they do not score in any of the three matches that we have left in this season. I will give double the odds on any bet placed up to £20. Penalties and free kicks are not included, although goals scored from a ‘crossed’ free kick will. Remember, you have to score while playing in a defensive position. Any challengers, please let me know! All bets will have to be paid for in advance.