Saturday 25th March 2006
By Paul Parsons
Another difficult week for team selection, and Ed (or EDD as his top suggests) is hard at work behind the scenes working on a game plan. Peter Morton, Ben Duffy, Joe Oatley, Alex Thrall and Antony Dine are the unlucky ones this week. However before a ball is kicked in earnest Dine pulls a muscle, the gaffer got it right.
Then as we play in driving wind and rain we go 1-0 up as Sheppard coolly lobs the keeper with a cross cum shot from 25 yards out. And then just as coolly turns away and walks nonchalantly back to the half way line to lap up the roar of the crowd without so much as a gesture in Steve Viner’s direction even though he obviously set it up for him.
This really is going to be a poor excuse of a match report as it is Tuesday evening and I have had two days off sick already (aaaahh I hear you all say, there, there it will all be better soon. Thanks!) Unlike the ARRRRRRRRGGGGGHHHHH that was on the pitch on Saturday as Todd then decides his legs have given up on him and allows the sprightly Joe Oatley to get an hour of the match at least. So the dynamic and indestructible Lee Shep is asked to go deep into centre midfield and Steve (assist) Viner retreats admirably to partner Parsons at the back. Jack is commandeered to do a 1-1 marking job on the lively number 17 and manages to consistently out jump and out play his man. Joe Lipton meanwhile is finding the other Joe out wide and combining well down the right to put pressure on the Wickham defence. Ivor is also putting in a solid performance (what else!?!?) and slides in two or three times in the first half to prevent a Wickham opportunity.
We immediately attack in the second half and Ben Tomkins finds skill, poise and athleticism to beat the Wickham defence a couple of times but the keeper is equal to it all. Paul Burford also manages to be composed on the ball and fire a couple of shots away that again the keeper gets a hand to. Richard Coyne grafts hard all game and gets in a great position to shoot that ricochets off the inside of the post and just away from a despairing lunge from Ben. Colin is constantly wide on the left and shouting for the ball, making a number of tactical runs into space and thereby creating space for Richard, Paul and Ben to run in to, but we still cannot get the calming second goal.
Wickham attack and try to play one past Parsons, but Parsons is having none of it and stretches out to make a last ditch challenge off the toe of the tricky number 17 for a corner. Another attack from Wickham and Parsons sacrifices himself for the club and country (possibly a bit strong!) and pushes the ball wayward with an outstretched hand. The referee calls him over and has a very strong word with him……I have always liked that ref…… Ivor is then called upon from the resulting free kick and chaperones the ball away from a blistering free kick that goes to a Wickham attacker who in turn shoots hard and low for Ivor (MOM) to spectacularly save with his feet in a magic moment of double save dominance!
Ed’s plans are awry with this Wickham pressure and he makes a double substitution with Colin and Paul coming off and Ben Duffy and Alex Thrall coming on. Alex looks lively on the left, (after all Colin tired the right back out all game) and Ben wants the ball upfront. With his first touch Ben slides in a cross from the other Ben with an assist of an assist from Joe to make it 2-0. A decision the manager can only be pleased with, with the pressure off, Ben gets a third from 20 yards that slips through the keeper’s hands in a slithery end to the game. 3-0 flattered us in many ways but in chances, possession and commitment it was the right result. A sterner test this week against Long Lane, and a chance for some of the lads that were ‘rested’ to shine.