Saturday 21st October 2006
By Danny Saines
The less said about Saturday the better. All I can say is that at least we didn''t lose, but again we drew away from home.
Shaun''s reports sometimes have been edited in the past when he reflects on certain issues that have gone against either the club or his squad when writing for the website - so I know I have to be careful. BUT certain points I feel need to be written.
Firstly we travelled to STC Ivor Grove, New Eltham. Once changed etc. we vacated the changing room area and walked not less than 50 yards to the touchline of our designated pitch. There was only one other match being played that day as well, on the pitch adjacent to ours. When we arrived at the sports club it was like a ghost town with only the chalked writing on the blackboard informing us of where to go and get changed. What welcomed us as we entered the area was broken glass on the floor from smashed windows. 2 players (and for all playing members of the Club, there is a very important lesson here), left some of their more valuable possessions in the changing room rather than putting them in the valuables bag. Big mistake. Because within 25 mins of the first half it became apparent that our changing room had been rifled and possessions stolen. This seemed strange as there seemed to be no-one about. The licensed bar area didn''t really want to know, neither did the police and the CCTV system was about as useful as a chocolate fireman. Enough said.
On the pitch things were not that better. The opposition fielded a bare eleven which came heaped with experience. They could have passed as an extremely useful vets side. Unfortunately their combined experience manifested itself into playing to their strengths and our weaknesses. Their strengths being to test the waters of the ref to see how physical they could get, and our weaknesses being our youth. And once Dave got scythed not ten minutes into the game with a diabolical challenge in my opinion and the ref gave nothing, it was obvious to me what was going on. In fact, not only was it an immediate yellow (some may argue a straight red), the ref not only did not even book the offending player but sent Colin off from the touchline for dissenting his disgust at such a challenge.
Don''t get me wrong - Royals were not really a dirty side - they just knew what to do to get a result - and that was to stop us playing football. And once they sensed a ref who seemed to let an awful lot go, their job was half done. The problem we had was how to avoid it and not get brought down to their level, but to play to our strengths - which was something we just couldn''t do all match. We got ourselves in front through Adam converting a blatant penalty only to see it levelled not 10 minutes later through a lob over Mark which had just followed yet another foul ungiven on one of our players. We then a had a 5 minute disruptive break as so we could all check our belongings and bring everything out to the side of the pitch and after that we never really got going. Terry came off at half time to sort out his personal stuff (and wait for the police who never showed), and we were forced to make a tactical change far too soon.
The second half was no different. Royals getting 9 men behind the ball, not letting us play through whatever means, and looking for a ball over the top or a counter attack as they knew we were pushing men forward at every given opportunity. They were well happy for a draw and would have been delighted if they had nicked it with an undeserved late winner. Guild must have had 80 percent of open play in the second half, had untold corners, crosses, and rebounds, but just couldn''t score. Royals tired (some more) and when Dave got scythed (again) by the same player who should not really have been on the pitch and Daragh nearly got crippled for a stamp starting at his knee, I, and the rest of the team had just about had enough and just wanted the final whistle.
2 points definitely dropped boys - but let''s get them back to our place, where, because of the room, they will not be able to get near us to stop us. Mark in goal got man of the match - and it was good to see him not lose it when he was taken out by a fairly over zealous centre forward claiming that "he had every right’” to go for it. You can guess what the referee did. Football Association.