Saturday 24th March 2007
As is often heard, a week is a long time in football and this game underlined how true these words can be as Farnborough produced the type of performance to be proud of, rather than the shambolic events, not entirely all down to our players, that occurred last week against Old Colfeians.
Highfield Rovers arrived, highly motivated and were undertaking an extensive and structured warm-up a good twenty five minutes before kick-off, culminating with a two minute group hug.
Our lads went for a more psychological pre-match preparation, basically of every player taking on board that a repeat of the previous week''s events would be unacceptable.
With the wise words of Des Fallon ringing in their ears, an extremely positive start to this keenly contested match from Farnborough enabled George Hillman, after showing excellent composure on the ball, to stroke the ball home from twenty five yards to give us an early lead.
The pace was raised further and our advantage short-lived as Highfield replied with a goal of stunning quality, a volley at an angle from just inside the goal area leaving James Stevens with no chance of stopping.
From the touchline the game looked one of the best Farnborough had been involved in all season and although the players might not think so at the time, this was helped by the excellent refereeing of the contest. The defence looked solid and were prepared to play the ball into the feet of our midfield players, Bobby Moulson in particular taking advantage of this and in turn created openings for our forwards and wide players. However, it was an enormous punt down field from James Stevens and chased, won and pulled back across goal by Djan Akwasi, for Adam Daniels to race in and collect his first goal of the season, that put us back in front.
Highfield again responded well, this time a fine run down the wing went unchecked and the resulting cross was forced home from six yards out. The teams were evenly matched and good football from both sides was giving entertainment to those watching from the touchline. The third and decisive goal for Highfield arrived on a plate, James Stevens dealing with a back pass Paul Robinson style which was unfortunate as it was the only foot he put wrong all afternoon.
Forty five minutes remained, a period in which we could let our heads drop and go under, or show some character and try to get something from the game. The players to a man put in a hard working display, the back four of Mark Friend, Rob Weekly, Steve Blanchard and Lee Sheppard dealing with an extremely lively Highfield frontline and providing a platform for our younger players to stretch the opposition back line, Adam Daniels using his strength on the left, George Hillman ruffling feathers down the middle and Laurence Smith getting the measure of the Highfield left back.
After running himself into the ground, Dan Warwick who had played an excellent midfield holding role, succumbed to his injured knee and was replaced by Tom Hughes. The half was tighter than the first, the only notable clear cut chances were at the Farnborough goalmouth, when firstly James Stevens dived bravely at the feet of the oncoming forward to make a save, when the advantage was clearly in the forward''s favour and also when a goalmouth flurry resulted in the ball being hacked off the line, much to the opposition''s protest. Farnborough were unable to unlock the Highfield defence, sometimes through good defending and sometimes through the wrong decision-making when in the final third.
The performance was an enormous improvement on the previous week against a very useful Highfield Rovers side.