Saturday 27th January 2007
By Shaun Keddle
Squad: 1. Mumford; 2. Small; 3. Cleaver; 4. Davis; 5. Judge; 6. Pragnell 7. Williams, J; 8. Perkins; 9. Williams, L; 10. Cleaver, B; 11. Martin (14. Harrigan)
Subs not used:12. Wright; 15. Keddlinihio 16. Mace
Another draw and another two points dropped adding to our abysmal away record.
We went into this game against Borough on a rich vein of form but not a lot of points or places to show for it. We were very unlucky in both games against the top two in our division in the past two games and we turned up at Borough high in confidence and expecting to bag all three points.
Borough''s new venue and pitch were definitely a step in the right direction and the pitch’s surface was decent and designed to play good football. However, the game was quite scrappy at the start with the only significant piece of play coming from a Borough midfielder pouncing on a poor clearance and hammering a fantastic strike against the inside of the far post, but the ball miraculously stayed out. This was a wake up call.
The half then proceeded to be a scrappy affair with the ball being given away by both sides with neither team not getting a foothold in the game. After 30 mins Williams, L had a clear header on goal but the Utd keeper did enough to deter the guild striker and the chance went begging. A ball down the right hand side was mis-controlled by the Borough centre half and Williams, J used his pace to take advantage of this and went direct through on goal. The keeper and centre half both challenged for the ball but Williams J managed to slide the ball goalbound between the two where it was met by Williams senior who calmly found the net. The goal that we needed. We thought that the goal would settle the game down a bit but two minutes later Borough levelled as kamikaze defending outside our box led to a threaded ball between our defence who were drawn to the ball to leave their big number 9 with an opportunity to calmly pick his spot and calmly pass the ball into the net past Mumford in goal who had no chance. A great, textbook piece of finishing that should have set an example of how chances should be taken.
At the half we were clearly disappointed as neither result nor performance was what we expected.
The second half came alive as people started to ‘up’ their games and workrate. Towards the start of the half, Pragnell hit the ‘beans on toast’ (again) with a great header that deserved more. The defence were starting to click and looked more comfortable, although their big number 9 was always keeping them busy and pressured. Up front Cleaver, B and Williams, L were starting to carve out the odd opportunity. 15 mins gone in the second period and Martin was replaced by Harrigan. Harrigan almost made an immediate impact when good interplay down the left hand side with Cleaver, B created an opportunity for the latter which flew past the keeper and unfortunately past the post. The move deserved a goal – but again we failed to hit the target. We now really started to pressurise and further good work from Cleaver and Harrigan resulted in a one-on-one for Cleaver, B but again we found the keeper instead of the net.
With 15 mins left we changed formations to 3-4-3 as we needed the win and a draw was not a lot of use for either team. This was always going to leave us open for counter attacks and a driving low shot into the near post bought the best out of Mumford who was making his debut in goal. By now it was end to end stuff and Harrigan went through for the Guild only to see another on-on-one thwarted by brave goalkeeping – but again another clear cut opportunity went begging. At the other end another fantastic save by Mumford after a strong header by the Borough number 9 kept the scores level. A couple of desperate efforts in injury time for the Guild also proved fruitless and the referee blew for time. Once again we were left disappointed.
We tend to use the word ‘unlucky’ quite a bit, but I cannot keep on using this word. Over recent weeks, especially in the league, ‘bad finishing’ and ‘not taking our chances’ appear to be more apt phrases to some up our performances rather than ‘bad luck’. From memory we had 3 one-on-one situations in which we failed to find the net. We do not hit the target enough despite carving out plenty of chances to do so. We always tend to look the better side and play prettier football but do not reap the dividends of this with an end result. Our defensive record in the league is one to be proud of and matches that of the top two. Our ‘goals for’ does not look good and we do not play a defensive formation or even defensively. Borough’s centre forward showed us all how it''s done on his one and only one-on-one opportunity – coolly picking his spot and passing (not smashing) the ball into the net nice and low. His finish was ACROSS the goalkeeper, which would create a chance for somebody else if the ball was saved or hit the post.
There were some encouraging performances and some positives; we all worked hard and pushed for the result, we managed to ‘up’ the tempo in the second half. Richard Davis performed well at centre half and Karl Mumford made a very good debut between the sticks. Man of the match was Lee Cleaver, once again a rock steady and consistent performance for the ever reliable left back.
This week we have Chipstead away. Our away from has been poor this season with only one victory by a single goal over Chislehurst. Our performances are fine but let’s start getting an end result. A victory on Saturday will be a massive result for us. I am also planning another team night out – we can discuss further on Saturday.