Saturday 30th September 2006
By Shaun Keddle
A lucky draw after a poor performance in the Kent cup.
Myself included, we went into this game thinking we just had to turn up to win. How wrong we turned out to be. Too many players just turning up to stroll around the park rather than to put the hard work in to win. We were outplayed for large parts of this game and more so when the Guru’s were reduced to 10 men after around 20 mins. Everyone seemed to be looking around for somebody else to take responsibility, rather than take responsibility themselves.
With players still playing for places we lined up with St John in goal and a back four of Small, Pragnell, Davis and Cleaver L. Changes in midfield meant that Clark made his first start of the season, partnered with Hardy. Carpenter and Williams J took up the right and left hand side of midfield respectively. Perkins was partnered with Williams L upfront.
The match started rather slowly without either side really taking control. A few half chances here and there, but nothing of real note. After around 20 mins an incident occurred that changed the game. The Guru keeper failed to control a back pass and Williams J was on to it with his pace. The keeper got to the ball first pace and Williams J arrived second. Whilst on the floor, Williams J was struck in the head which lead to the keeper''s sending off and a yellow card for Williams J for the late challenge.
With Guru down to 10 men this should be the signal to start to take control and up the ante. Instead it was Guru who seemed to be inspired by their loss and reorganised themselves to accommodate their loss. In return we got lazy and just assumed that our superior numbers would just win. It can sometimes be difficult to play against 10 men, but you do not expect to be outplayed and you do not expect the team with inferior numbers to dominate possession. 5 mins before the break we took the lead against the run of play after Perkins neatly rounded the stand in keeper and slotted home. The half finished with us a goal to the good but not playing well.
With us a goal up and the oppo down to 10 you would have thought that we would now start to dominate as they started to tire. However, Guru started off as they had left off and proceeded to play the better football. You would have never guessed that it was them down to 10, more like us. From the sidelines I could not quite identify exactly what was going on, but it was obvious that players were being lazy. The ball should be worked, not forced, from left to right to outnumber the oppo down the flanks. Play should be built up and the ball should be held to enable the defence to push up and the midfield to support. Neither were done successfully or to any affect.
After a series of half chances, Nanak equalised after poor defending and were in the ascendancy. Connor replaced Perkins. Judge replaced Clark. With about 10 mins to go they deservedly went ahead after very poor defending let a man turn on the edge of the box and finish superbly into the corner. We had two or three defenders around him at the time and he was facing away from goal. It’s a criminal offence for a defender to let someone turn on the edge of the box and finish so comfortably with no pressure. No wonder I have no f~~~~~~ hair!
With a few minutes left, Williams L had his shirt blatantly pulled in the box and coolly dispatched the resulting penalty. We had got out of jail. The full time score finished 2-2.
We looked despondent when we came in for the break before extra time. Only a few minutes after the restart, Guru again took the lead after we conceded an amateur goal direct from a corner kick. It was embarrassing to say the least. No talking, no responsibility. Everyone seems to have plenty to say before and after matches so why not during?
On the turn around two quick goals from Connor (who played well when entering the fray) saw us take a 4-3 lead. The first goal proved the benefits of getting into the box and the ball was bundled over the line by the on rushing Connor. The second goal was again scored after good work from Connor and he deserved the little bit luck with the finish. The should have been game, set and match but Guru attacked us back and scored by way of a penalty after Davis went to ground in the box and did not win the ball.
4-4 it finished. On paper it looked like a decent game, but it was far from that. Our record of not conceding a goal in a competitive game this season was blown away in suicide style. Too many soft goals were conceded. In fact I don’t think there was a decent goal between all eight goals. Guru were probably disappointed with the draw and rightly so. We should consider ourselves quite lucky.
As a result of the draw we need to travel to Gravesend this week to end the fixture. We have a chance to redeem ourselves and show everyone what we can do. We will need to come prepared and in the right frame of mind. We will need to work far harder than we did. We need to cut out the stupid flicks, learn to hold the ball and play with more desire. People are playing for places and not many (if any) performed to an acceptable standard and we must seek to improve this week.
Matt Pragnell picked up MOM.
A few bad habits have started to creep in and I will jump up and down on the people responsible if we do not change. One or two faces are missing from training and one or two faces are arriving late for training. Lateness is creeping in on match days and this must be eliminated. Organise yourselves, you are all adults. There can be no excuses. Last minute changes and drop outs are also unacceptable. I need to know by Friday morning latest so I can react effectively to benefit the team.
In every negative there are always positives and I will end this report on a high. At least we did not lose and we have now showed that we have plenty of goals in us. We have a couple of faces back from injuries and absence so our squad grows in strength and depth. We also had to come from behind on two occasions so this shows we are prepared to battle. We have set ourselves high standards this season and as a result this felt like a loss, this is definitely a positive thing.
It was also great to see so many faces on our night out, a sign of true team spirit. A good time was had by all and I thank Ray and his staff for his hospitality. We shall shortly arrange another outing before Xmas. This should give Sam Small enough time to age slightly, grow a crap beard or preferably have a hair transplant with me.
Maybe this is the shot in the arm we need. It’s a wake up call. Improvements in performances are expected this week.