Sunday 18th March 2007
By Vince Wray
This fixture was played in a cold, powerful swirling wind on a firm playing surface. Keeping the ball on the ground was imperative to success but unfortunately we couldn’t manage that for long enough periods. Every time the ball was passed longer than 20 yards it bounced, bobbled and finally was blown off of the playing area. I can hear you saying "excuses, excuses!". Maybe so, but make no mistake we did not play well, however in my opinion the teams were levelled up by the weather. Without the wind we would have comfortably won this fixture; fact. We didn’t perform to our best; fact. We were very cocky and complacent approaching the game; fact.
The lads were warned before the game about the latter but it didn’t seem to register.
We started the game playing with the wind behind us, we were sloppy and looked lethargic. It seemed as if we were thinking "get changed, get out there, play and we’re bound to win ‘cos they’re 2nd bottom in the division!". Yes lads, that’s called complacency. Yes, the conditions were poor, but we couldn’t do anything right. Whytleafe showed commitment and desire. They fully deserved to take the lead, one of their attackers cutting in from the left and riding two forlorn Farnborough challenges and driving the ball into the roof of the net from the angle. Would this give the lads the kick in the pants they needed? Answer: no.
We continued to stumble around like old men who’d lost their zimmer frames, clumsy, like a bunch of clowns with their clowns shoes on. Below average, was a kind description of ourselves at this point. Still we couldn’t rally. Instead, it got worse, the ball runs through to keeper Burkett on the edge of our area, under pressure from a Whytleafe forward Burkett handles the ball, but outside the area! Referee speaks with Burkett and both exchange opinions, Burkett gets red card!
Calamity! Down to 10 men. And you’ve guessed it, they go 2-0 up from the free kick, the first thing Milner had to do was pick the ball out of his net. In truth, this was a soft goal to concede as well though. Lack of organisation in the wall and no player on the goal line.
It was virtually half time at this juncture and the ref was playing quite a bit of added on time, presumably because the ball kept on getting blown off the pitch down to Orpington for most of the game. Somehow, we scrambled a goal, they didn’t clear their lines, a poor clearance and Dan Laurent was there to finish. 1-2 down at half time.
Yes we rallied well in the 2nd half, Adams latching onto a cross from Keyworth who’d received the ball from a sweeping diagonal pass from Stevens. 2-2 and still 25 minutes to go. We huffed and puffed and did our best, we were well on top, chances were squandered but we couldn’t find the winner. It was a decent fightback with 10 men but really we shouldn’t have put ourselves in this position. Our last 3 games have followed the same pattern; dodgy 1st half better 2nd half. We’re still on course – just. But we definitely cannot afford to lose points in a fixture like this, Junior Sports are still breathing down our necks. We have been warned. Wake up, forget who’s top of the division, focus on each game and play with the same spirit, right through till the final game and maybe we’ll be rewarded.
There’s another game next week lads, yes, Whytleafe away, let’s show them what we are really made of next time.