Saturday 6th November 2010
By Richard Tapsfield
After three straight defeats in league and cup we were desperate to get back to winning ways in our Kent Cup second round match, at home on Farrow Fields. In the last few weeks we have been hurt by the loss of 3 big players in top scorer Ben Slade to Chipstead, and midfield duo Jim Lenton and Matt Godward who have both left the country for pastures new! Naturally with 3 starters gone the team has looked a little unbalanced in the last few games but last week's performance against Westerham in the Sevenoaks Cup (a 2-1 reverse in which we played the 2nd half with 10) gave us real encouragement that we were beginning to turn the corner again and Saturday hopefully proved that!
We lined up 4-4-2 with the Sam in goal, a back four of Ben, Dave, Luke and debutant Matt Davis. A midfield of Al, Chris, Louis and Ellis with Russ and Nigel up top. This left another debutant on the bench in Joe Hussey. We started brightly from the kick off and kept the ball well in the early stages without creating much in front of goal, however we soon got our rewards when Al turned an excellent ball round the corner of the defence from the right and Russ raced through and slotted the ball under the onrushing keeper for his first goal of the season. I'm sure pretty much everyone in the club has already heard about this direct from Russ, so I won't go into any more detail!
Shortly after, we suffered a blow when Sam pulled up after collecting a catch from the right and looked to have suffered a nasty calf strain. Unfortunately for him and us it didn't look too good as he was unable to put any weight on it and thus needed to come off immediately. We wish him a speedy recovery and hope he's back playing again soon. Before Stu and I had time to think about what we were going to do Chris was already over collecting the gloves and ready to step in. This was unfortunate for him as he had started well in his favoured centre midfield role, but he went on to have an outstanding game in goal for us so it's much appreciated that he stepped up! This left Joe to come on at left midfield, with Ellis moving in to the middle.
Not long after the change Chris was called in to action twice to deny Tudor from long range and then followed that up by setting up our second goal. After collecting a knock down he quickly launched the ball the full length of the pitch over the last centre half to Nigel who with one cool touch of his left boot / shin lofted the ball delicately over the keeper for 2-0! Not the prettiest of goals you'll see but effective all the same and reminiscent (for the footballing geeks amongst us - Danny G!) of Andrea Dossena's goal for Liverpool against Man Utd in the 4-1 game a couple of years ago. Shortly after the ref blew for half time, with us two to the good after an impressive first half display.
At half time we talked merely about continuing the good work, getting the next goal and avoiding any confrontation with Tudor's big centre midfielder who had caused a bit of grief in the first half. We did just that and soon made it 3-0 with a goal from Alex Barnes, who when put through lobbed the keeper from just inside the penalty area, another excellent finish. From here it looked like we could go on and win by 4 or 5 as everything about our play was excellent especially down the left side with man of the match Dave and Joe linking well. However we then had a mad 5 minutes in which we decided not to bother defending anymore and thus Tudor soon scored and missed two gilt-edged chances to peg us back further. Thankfully we got over that and rallied to play out the last quarter of an hour reasonably comfortably and could have had a couple more with both Al and Nigel going close after some good play.
All in all a solid victory after a difficult few games and one which will no doubt help boost everyone's confidence. There's no doubt that when everyone is confident and relaxed on the ball we look a decent side and will match anyone in our division, we just need to find the consistency we had at the start of the season. Man of the Match was a two horse race between Russ and Dave with Dave eventually taking it 6 votes to 4. A special mention must also go to both Matt and Joe who both had excellent debuts.
Next week it's back to league duty and an away game against Old Colfeians who will be out for revenge after the early season win we had against them at home. Well done all.
Man of the match: Dave Martin