Saturday 28th October 2006
By Shaun Keddle
Squad: St John (GK), Small, Davis, Connelly, Judge (Williams, J), Clark© (Cleaver, L), Perkins, Hardy, Williams (L), Harrigan (Keddlinihio), Cleaver (B) Subs not used: Mace
“A blistering first half performance, tarnished by an average second half”.
We went into this fixture on the back of a very poor run of form. To be fair we had played some decent sides in those games, but results against the better sides in this league is where promotions are decided. In recent weeks we have not performed to a promotion contending standard.
Preparation for this game was very good and this season I have been impressed with players’ availability for games. We spoke about our poor run of form and lack of confidence and this fixture was the ideal fixture to get our season back on track. We set up meaning business and went for an adventurous 3-4-3 formation in order to be the aggressor in this fixture. We spoke about playing off players and gambling on runs and getting the balls into the forwards'' feet.
All these plans paid off as the game plan was activated right from kick off. It was all us in the first half with Old Bexleians only managing the odd foray on goal. After some sweeping football, great anticipation and running, chances were being carved out and the Bexleians defence was stretched. There were a few chances missed and a few speculative efforts just wide before Harrigan was put clean through by Perkins after a good team move and finished neatly at the keeper''s near post. 1-0. The goal we needed. This spurned us on and we were rampant. Williams’ pace and aerial threat were causing all sorts of probs and Harrigan was holding the ball very well. Perkins and Cleaver were very busy and reading the second ball. Judge and Hardy were effective down the flanks and were working very hard in demanding positions. Defensively there was not a great deal to do but what we did do we did well and were never really in trouble. Two quick goals followed by Williams (L) who finished well on both occasions after some good teamwork. Other efforts went close including a 25 yard screamer from Hardy who brushed the top of the cross bar with a well controlled and timed effort.
At the half we spoke about keeping the momentum up and still keeping hungry and looking for goals. Williams (J) replaced the injured Judge at the half. For the first 10 mins or so of the second half we looked as though we started where we left off and Williams (J) was instantly called into action using his pace and threading a lovely ball into Harrigan whose effort was well closed down by the Bexleians keeper. The killer fourth goal arrived after a fine ball from Williams on the left was tucked away superbly by Perkins. After this we did seem to sit back slightly and Bexleians started to come into the game. A good move by Bexleians was ended by a superb save by St John after it looked like a certain goal. At the other end Harrigan beat the offside trap but the effort was saved as he tried to round the keeper. Clark was replaced by Cleaver, pushing Hardy into the centre and Cleaver on the left. The game was now well and truly won, but Bexleians never gave up and continued to compete and plug away in search of a consolation which was worthy of their second half performance. In the 82nd minute Keddlinihio replaced Harrigan in a ‘like for like’ replacement, which appeared to exercise everybody’s stomach and cheek muscles through the amount of laughter that was heard. There is no place in the game for abuse like that and if everyone could wear ‘stop abusing the fat manager’ bands next week, it would be appreciated!
4-0 it finished, a good result given recent performances but I still want to ask for a little more in the second half. In games where we are this dominant, we really need to put the game beyond reason earlier, as we could have let Old Bexleians back into it, if St John in goal hadn’t pulled off a wonder save. However, there are far more positives from the game including a really good comeback performance from Harrigan after being out for the last two months and playing his first competitive game of the season. I gave Hardy the nod for a decent, hard working performance in an alien position. Hardy picked up four votes, which left the Players'' Man of The Match to Williams who again used his strength and pace to great affect and bagged a brace as a result. St John in goal was reliable when called upon, but again was rarely needed as were the defence.
This week we have Addeyans who are having a bad time at the moment, but we must not take this for granted. We need to go into this game with confidence and not arrogance. We always have tough games with Addeyans, so please do not think this fixture will be any different. Selections this week will again be tough and I ask for your patience and co-operation with regards to selections.
Let’s use this game and result to reinvigorate our season.