Saturday 15th April 2006
By Shaun Keddle
We continued our run of three wins on the bounce, despite a lacklustre performance.
Yet again, the squad was depleted due to injuries, illness and people being away. This week’s casualties of Pester, Connelly, Davis, Benningfield, Ford, Dunford, Carpenter and Dawson really did deflate the squad. My thanks to Gary and Steve who really did help us out.
With the squad depleted, it meant tampering with the back four which has been solid and reliable over the last few weeks, with Small replacing Benningfield at right back and Connor replacing Connelly at left back. The centre halves remained consistent to the previous few fixtures as Clark and Wright took those shirts. An illness to Ford put the ever versatile St John back in goal. Another injury to Pester meant that McGloughlin started in a central position along side Whiteway. Williams junior took the right side of midfield for his first game for 5 months after travelling the world. Steve took to the left side of midfield. The places upfront were taken up by Harrigan (without the magic boots) and Williams senior.
With a depleted side and difficult playing conditions we found it difficult to find our feet. First touches were going astray and our usually good passing was inconsistent and wayward. The match was turning into a competitive battle and not a great deal of good football was played. We did look solid and composed at the back, but we did not seem to get a grip of the centre of the park (maybe due to formation) and were not feeding our forwards with the necessary ammunition. The first half ended with Meridan having a good couple of chances as well as ourselves, but either team failed to convert. St John in goal, making a particularly good save against their centre forward.
We re-grouped at the half and spoke about still competing well (as we were) but trying to find our touch and get our passing game going. The game was here for the taking, but nobody seemed to want to take it.
The second half was better for us and we started to get a little more grip in the game and started to get the better of our individual battles. We did appear at this stage to have a little more in our tank than Meridian. With around 20 mins of normal time left (and 15 mins of injury time!) the referee adjudged that a foul was committed on one of our players in the box. I did not see the incident and not many of our players claimed it but Whiteway was eager to take it and duly converted. Up to this stage we looked controlled in the second half, but with the threat of relegation looming over Meridian teamed with the fact that they were a goal down, they really came back at us. However, we did remain solid and another particularly good save from a diving header by St John, kept us ahead. A clear 6.0, 6.0, 6.0, 6.0, 6.0, 6.0 dive in the box was waved away by the referee, but in all honestly if the player did not act like an extra from Platoon after being peppered by a Russian assault rifle, he might well have got something.
However, we battled through and claimed victory in what was quite a dour match.
In fairness, Meridian never gave up and always gave us plenty to think about and have a good never say die attitude. Earlier in the season they beat us 2-0, so it was good to reverse the points back in FOBG’s favour. Once again the defence was very solid with most of the votes going to Matty Wright and Jim St John who were both excellent. We have not conceded a goal in free play now for 3 games. Its important that we keep this going now as it has formed a solid base for our performances and results. To be fair, we worked hard in this far-from-easy fixture all across the pitch although we lacked quality in the last third and do need to hit the target on a more frequent basis.
Onto this weeks fixture and again we have a depleted squad due to players priorities which has proved to be our Achilles heel this season. We must however continue this run going and finish this season on high. We need to remain as solid and competitive as we have been over the last few weeks, but do need to add a little more creativity and directness to our play.
Don’t forget the end of season finale on Sunday 30th April.