Saturday 5th January 2008
By Sam Evans
We really deserved something out of this game. Sydenham were a good team and it was clear why they are challenging for promotion. We battled hard, created chances, and 4-2 was not a fair reflection of a highly competitive game.
We took the lead mid-way through the first half. Dan Head fought hard to win the ball on the halfway line, before driving forward powerfully down the left wing. He played the ball square to the onrushing Paul Tanton who finished precisely from 15 yards out. Unfortunately we weren’t able to withstand the Sydenham pressure and they forced a penalty fifteen minutes before half time. The flu-ridden Mark Edwards dived athletically to his left and pushed the ball round the post – a great save. However, Sydenham kept piling on the pressure and scored a really good goal a few minutes later. A cross came in from the left and their number 11 had a near perfect first touch before drilling the ball low and hard into the far corner. Despite this we did continue to create chances and Paul Tanton had a goal ruled out for offside. Defensively we had to work very hard; Dave Martin had his work cut out marking their speedy number eight, and Pete Morton likewise with their best player, the 11. Both lads did really well against players noticeably above the standard of those we normally encounter.
We felt very positive at half time. Although Sydenham had some really good players we felt they weren’t the strongest defensively and hoped that Paul and Dan would continue to link up well and perhaps nick another goal. Terry Connor made a welcome return, replacing Dave Martin at left back. At the start of the second half we continued to compete well, Daragh Nott and Adam Benningfield in the centre of midfield throwing themselves into every challenge, and Paul Parsons and Jay Blay at centre back matching the opposition physically, especially in the air. After fifteen minutes Mark Doyle came on to replace Pete Morton at right back and the game was really in the balance. We had the slope in our favour and looked capable of retaking the lead. Unfortunately Sydenham scored soon after, Daragh made a great challenge on the edge of the box but the ball broke to their number ten who finished well into the corner. We conceded another goal ten minutes later in unfortunate circumstances as a clearance rebounded off their striker and into the net.
We responded almost immediately as Antony Dine struck a terrific shot from outside the box into the corner of the goal. At 3-2 we applied real pressure and came close to scraping a point when Daragh was unlucky to see his header fly just over the bar with the keeper beaten. Their fourth goal came right on the final whistle as we were caught on the break having committed men forward in search of an equaliser. No shame in that at all though, and we nearly did get a point in that last five minutes.
All in all then we can hold our heads high after this game. We had lots of good performances – Antony Dine was impressive again in left midfield as was Richard Tapsfield in right midfield. Taps’ performance deteriorated somewhat in the changing rooms however, as he attempted to hang his holdall onto a coat hook only to miss and see the holdall crash to the floor, much to our amusement.
For the second week running, man of the match went to Dan Head who turned in a typically battling, powerful performance and created problems for their defence whenever the ball was near him. Dan is reminiscent of Emile Heskey in this respect, there’s no joke coming here, honest – I just think that you resemble all that is good in Heskey’s game: power, pace and an eye for goal.
So – lots of positives to take forward to next week. There may be a night out this Saturday, watch this space. Taps – if it’s in Bromley, we can give you directions.
Man of the match: Dan Head