Saturday 17th February 2007
By Shaun Keddle
Squad:1. St John; 2. Wright; 3. Davis; 4. Judge; 5. Cleaver, B; 6. Pragnell (12. Small); 7. Harrigan; 8. Cleaver, L (15. Connelly); 9. Williams, L; 10. Williams, J; 11. Head (14. Clark).
Our third straight league win to put us third in the table and our long unbeaten league run continues.
This was not a vintage performance by any means. The scoreline appears to indicate an exciting encounter but it was a relatively flat game with neither side playing particularly good football. The referee also made a strange move on switching the linesmen around so the they were responsible for their own forwards – I don’t think this did either team any favours and both sides were confused by the decision.
Conditions were excellent up at the Guild on Saturday and the pitch looked good for this time of year. We decided to switch formation to a 3-4-3 in order to cut out the long ball, man mark their main threat up front and pressurise the game high up the park. This certainly did not happen although we did take the lead within 5 mins after dead ball specialist Davis fired one in from 25 yards with his trusty left foot which evaded the keeper and found the net. The first half was nothing much to write about, with either side having a couple of chances which were not taken. As the half progressed, our formation showed cracks and Borough should have at least drawn level. A certain goal was somehow miraculously missed at the far post.
At the half, we decided to switch back to the tried and tested 4-4-2 which everyone welcomed. This meant plenty of changes but no substitutions were made. At the half we spoke about more talking and more effort as we did appear to be a little flat and the game had a very ‘going through the motions’ feel to it. We still had plenty of gears to travel through. The second half saw an excellent start to the game with a more high tempo pace. On a Guild attack another foul outside the box presented Davis with another opportunity. Davis struck a powerful left footed effort that flew past the keeper and bulged the net. 2-0 up with both goals from Davis. At this point we have started to dominate the game and further moves could have lead to more goals. On the 65th minute Williams J finished off a fantastic team move, the best move of the match, to put us 3 goals up. This some what flattered us as we were poor in the first half, but I did think that the killer third goal would see the end of Borough’s resistance. However, the third goal sparked Borough into life and they were the better side in the last 25 mins. Substitutions were made as Clark replaced the hard working Head. With 15 minutes to go Connelly and Small replaced Cleaver and Pragnell. With 10 minutes left Borough pressed for a lifeline and it was found after a striker that was clearly offside ran through and lobbed the onrushing St John in goal. The clear offside was not given and the goal stood. This lifeline gave Borough hope and 9 minutes into injury time they found a second after Davis was adjudged to have handled in the box. More ball to hand than hand to ball, but the resulting spot kick was converted with pretty much the last kick of the game.
All in all it was quite a dour match in which neither side could claim was a good performance. However, we bagged all the points against hard working and awkward opposition and once again scored three more goals. This would have been the type of game that we would have lost earlier in the season. I put my hands up and say that the formation on this day did not work and we did make a number of tactical changes and substitutions which may have upset the balance and rhythm of the team. However, it does not help if we do not approach the game with the right frame of mind. Some whinging started to creep in and this has a negative affect on performances. It’s something that we need to eliminate now. We know we can perform well as we have been in excellent form since December and did play well in parts, especially the early part of the second half when we went into a three nil lead.
However, despite the lacklustre performance and very sloppy finish to the game we are now up to third which is a far cry from where we were in January. We have also been getting decent results and a win this Saturday could take us to second depending on other results. Again we are at home so the onus will be on us to perform. We have Erith 147 this week who we are yet to play but capable of beating good sides and have had a few good results. We must be at our best on Saturday if we want to win.
Let''s up for the efforts this week boys, we have second place to play for and four straight wins in February.