Saturday 29th January 2011
Tom Cooper (Div 2) Trophy
By Colin Brazier
An unexpected return this week to the homely Chinbrook Meadows and its bacon sandwich aromas to face LDS in the Tom Cooper Trophy, an end of season competition to compensate us for having only 14 league matches this season. The eight division two teams have been split into two groups of four, playing each other once only, with the winners meeting in the final. We have been placed in group A with Croydon Crusaders and Lord Hood in addition to today’s opponents. On the face of it NOT the group of death, compared to group B (AFC Bromley, AFC Mottingham, Charlton Athletic Deaf and Crofton Albion).
The last time we participated in such a tournament, we weren’t so lucky. Two years ago it was open to all Bromley League teams who had played most of their league matches and we conceded 19 goals in the 3 games against various pot-hunting outfits! I say “we”, but only Todd and I remain from that squad.
Des made a few changes from the team that suffered last-minute cup heartbreak last week. Graeme has returned to college. Wash my mouth out!!! Graeme has returned to university so James was switched to his preferred striker role, allowing Scott to resume his left midfield slot and Steve Blanchard (junior) was brought in from the cold at right back. Left out in the cold –literally, as he later told us - was Steve (senior), who stood down from the squad to allow both new players to get a game.
Our line up, then, in our SUPERB new kit, was…
Jez Allen – GK
Steve Blanchard jnr - RB
Todd Arnold – CB
Paul Bailey – CB
Colin Brazier – LB
Luke Allen – RM
Neil Barnes – CM (capt.)
Tom Smart – CM
Scott Barnes – LM
James Foyle – CF
Connor Barclay – CF
Jamie Sanford, Adil Mehmeti, Mark Edwards - Substitutes.
Our previous visit, in the league in October, had seen us put in one of our poorer performances of the season in going down 4-3, so we had some amends to make. The number of goals was in keeping with the history of this fixture, and the few hardy souls who braved the cold were looking forward to another goal fest.
LDS started with alot of energy and dominated the early possession. Their left midfielder/winger was particularly troublesome, putting in some jinking runs and dangerous crosses. Our defence was creaking under the pressure but stood resolute, notably when an LDS forward took the ball around Jez only to run into two or three Guild defenders. When we did break out we looked dangerous and might have taken the lead with more confident finishing (I include myself here!). Then Neil rose to meet a corner and his header seemed certain to meet the back of the net until a combination of Scott and Jez scrambled it out from under the bar (read it again and work it out!).
Half time 0-0.
We turned around and had the benefit of the light breeze. Luke and Steve nullified the threat from their winger, Neil and Tom got the upper hand in the middle and Scott was putting in an unbelievable shift down the left. Soon it was the visitors making all the chances and looking the more likely to break the deadlock. Alas, a succession of one-on-ones, free kicks and corners came to nothing. Luke had a near post header saved, and for the second time in three games, Tom hit the bar with a free kick. With 20 minutes left Connor and James made way for debutants Jamie Sanford and Adil Mehmeti, and Mark came on for Neil.
So a rare, but not unprecedented, goalless draw for the 4ths over the years. This could prove to be a vital point in the group, and with only one team progressing, defeat would have surely been fatal, so we have to be happy with a draw, probably a fair result on the day. Guild Man of the Match votes were evenly spread with Scott and Jez sharing the accolade this week.
This week we have no game, so a chance for some players to get a rest, and maybe others to help out the Thirds. That reminds me, Mantas is making an excellent recovery and we hope to have him back soon!
Finally, I have been looking at the table and reckon with 10 points from the remaining possible 15, we can finish in the top half, which would be even more satisfying than this first clean sheet of the season! Onwards and upwards!
Man of the match: Jez Allen and Scott Barnes