Saturday 16th September 2006
Barry Bundock West Kent Challenge Shield
By Shaun Keddle
A good win, decent performance and another clean sheet against a side who are a division above us, to put us in the second round of the West Kent Challenge Shield.
Selection was again difficult this week as I had plenty of players available and even more players to return in coming weeks. Danny Clark, Dave Harrigan, Matty Wright and Barry Cleaver will all be looking for games in the near future, so the squad is very strong at the moment. The side I went with was St John between the sticks, the same back four as the previous two weeks – Small, Pragnell, Davis and Connelly, a midfield of Judge, Williams J, Hardy who replaced Ives and Connor who replaced Cleaver L. Up front Perkins was paired with the returning Williams, L who replaced Carpenter. Ives, Cleaver and Carpenter took to the bench.
Preparations and attitude towards the game were again excellent – bear with me with regards to the attention to detail – it will pay off. It was perfect conditions for football and the pitch looked in excellent nick. The new portable dug-out (managerial control centre) made its home debut and team photos were taken for the programme and Sam Small’s new business adventure.
Again we started really well; moving the ball around quickly and sharply, utilising Williams’ pace against their left full back. Fleetdown appeared to be relying heavily on the pace of their lively forward who was looking to impress. Fleetdown were also decent in the centre of the park with two well schooled footballers with good engines. Fleetdown also appeared dangerous in the air, so we had to shut down the long ball. Again, we created plenty of chances but this time we repeatedly failed to hit the mark and the keeper was not tested. To be honest I am not sure if this was a stand-in keeper and if so, we certainly did not capitalise on this. St John in the Farnborough goal was not tested at all in the first half, mainly due to some good defending from the resolute back four. The half ended with us on top, but we could not take advantage of the opportunities that had been presented.
At the half we spoke about dealing with the aerial threat and picking up the second ball. We also spoke about the need to start hitting the target as our finishing was somewhat wayward. The stalemate continued in the second half and St John was called into action for the first time, tipping away a goal bound header at the foot of the post. Up the other end, Williams and Perkins missed good chances as our finishing was getting closer, but still missing the target. With about 20 mins left we removed the sweeper and switched formation, a gamble I was keen to take to try and go and win the game in the 90 mins. Carpenter replaced Connelly and pushed up front. Cleaver replaced Connor on the left. We now became more of an attacking force but missed a number of further chances before a Fleetdown player handled in the box with about 2 mins to go. A penalty was rightly awarded. Williams dispatched the penalty into the corner and we were deservedly one up. A goal down in a cup game meant that Fleetdown pushed on. Again we changed formation to combat this and Ives replaced the tiring Williams and went straight into the centre. Carpenter dropped into left midfield and Cleaver to left back.
We saw out the last couple of minutes and took a deserved victory.
Once again I was impressed with everyone’s performance. We looked sharp, fitness looked good, as did organisation and spirit. One thing to watch is that at times a little bit of moaning (mainly due to the fact that we knew we should have been a least a couple of goals to the good) and frustration crept in. This has got to be eliminated now and completely.
We have now measured ourselves against opposition that are doing well in the league above and should gain further confidence from this. Defensively we have been brilliant and have not conceded in the three competitive games that we have played. The midfield is strong, mobile and competitive. Up front we have pace, strength and control. We have rotated the squad well and everyone understands that it’s squads that win prizes and not teams. We have the strength and depth to do the business this year so we must capitalise on the opportunity that we have. A couple of things that we must improve on is communication and finishing as I want to see more goals as a reward for all our good play and possession.
Keep up the good work - I am a very happy manager.
p.s. Don’t forget there is no training this week so we are meeting in Henry''s at 8.00pm or sooner for a team beer. All first and second team players and staff are welcome. We also have our evening out on the 30th and I will need confirmed numbers.