Sunday 7th January 2018
By Mark Harrington
Supporters: Barry Grainger, Jon Redman and son.
Team: Gary Rosslee, Robin Moody, Marcus Allen, Jon Gasson, Matti Wright, Joe Champ, Dean Wyatt, Dean Murphy, Damien Preston, Simon Davies, Alan Fines, Paul Tanton, Tom Naughton, Jez Mooney,
So on a day when a managerless Championship side shocked us all by knocking out the FA Cup holders (sorry you Gooners) I guess it is equally shocking that our fabulous winning run had to come to an end at some point; however, it was a shame it had to be as a result of our own doing rather than the skills of the opposition. Although to be fair, whilst we gifted three first half goals to them they punished us on every occasion and our 5-1 home victory against the same opposition was never going to be repeated.
It proved to be an unlucky 12th rather than 13th game in our 11 wins on the spin run and why was this so? Had we broken the world record for the longest hangover since New Year’s eve? Was it because yours truly did not wear the lucky top and opted for the hooded version, more akin to a Bluewater visit? Was it because we, as men, do not travel well to anything near a shopping centre? Was it because we had not played for a number of weeks and over indulged? Maybe a bit of all this but the simple truth is that we just did not turn up for the first 45 minutes. The Lads of the Village took advantage of our mistakes although we would have probably struggled against Lasses of the Village on the first half showing. Yes we were looking forward to playing at home but this game had to be hastily rearranged to away as we were again trumped by those playing for actual points. We do play our best football on good pitches rather than one that has an end above sea level and the other below. All the same it just did not go for us in the first half. It seems whenever we visit Stone Rec it is wet, cold, windy and we lose!
It is not worth describing individual errors but being three down is not something we are accustomed to. Anyway, we pulled a goal back just before half-time to reduce the arrears to 3-1 courtesy of a Dean Murphy cross or shot. Damien’s shot smacked a post shortly after but only being one down at half-time would have been rather flattering we were that poor.
To our lads credit they regrouped and we went for a three at the back formation and pressed for a second. Unfortunately, we were caught on the break and the oppo’s young midfielder curled a shot from the edge of the area to make it 4-1. Most teams fold at this score; however our boys are made of sterner stuff and we eventually got a second when Jez Mooney’s tame shot fooled the oppo goalkeeper and the ball went through his body and into the net. We kept up the pressure and Man of the Match Dean Murphy bent a shot into the top corner with 8 minutes to go to set up a final tense few minutes.
Unfortunately, the equaliser never came, which on the second half showing we deserved but in truth the damage was well and truly done in the first half, which for the second year in a row, left us too much of a mountain to climb. We tried new formations, players in different positions but today was just not our day. Yours truly was even at it by forgetting to hand out the half-time oranges.
I have to say the response was fantastic from every player. We all sulked, admitted mistakes, drowned our sorrows in the Woodman and agreed there is always next week. Everything you want to hear from committed players who care.
My thanks to Paul Tanton who after being rested at half-time, came off and immediately picked up the flag to run the line for the whole second half and decline to go back on. He did get a bit too vigorous with the flag at one point and put his back out but hopefully he will be OK for next week if he defrosts from the cold.
We know we are better than today and it was pleasing to see that those players that made errors did not let their heads drop, battled on and more than made up for the mistakes so this bodes well for future games.
Chance to redeem ourselves against Charlton Rangers next week. Put it behind us lads, you have all had a magnificent season so far.
Have a good week all.
Man of the match: Dean Murphy