Saturday 3rd March 2007
By Shaun Keddle
A ruthless performance and convincing victory to put us into the semi-finals of the Sevenoaks Cup.
With a couple of holidays and three suspensions we were left short of a lot of regular first team players. However, this gave opportunities for others to step in and do a job as our side was re-shaped to entertain our local rivals. Clark returned for his first start since his injury in December and pushed back from his usual midfield position into the centre half spot. Harrigan was pushed back into the middle to provide us with an attacking influence in the middle of the park. Carpenter was bought straight in to the right for his first appearance since October. Nott took to the bench to provide us with a capable and versatile substitute. The side started with St John in goal, Davis, Cleaver L, Small and Clark across the back, Pragnell and Harrigan in the middle, Cleaver B and Carpenter out wide with Williams and Head up front. Nott, Keddlinihio and Mace took to the bench.
From the start we pretty much dominated this game. We were playing some crisp, free flowing, possession football and were very dominant across the park. Chislehurst did not offer much upfront, their main resistance came from the centre of the park where they were quite strong, competitive and never gave up. However, Pragnell and Harrigan were in no mood to give an inch and they edged the personal battles with Pragnell sitting proudly in front of the defence while Harrigan’s mazy runs and driving through the middle kept Chislehurst on the back foot. About half way through the half the chances started to come with Pragnell hammering the ball against the bar (‘only Bruce Lee would have scored that’ he said after the game) and Williams L firing over from close range. Davis found the target with a free kick but the keeper gathered comfortably. One or two other chances occurred, but the half ended goalless.
At the half there was not a great deal to comment on. We were playing well and dominating the game but did not have anything to show for our efforts. However, we did need to up the tempo and pace of the game, as that is where we are best. Right from the kick off we did just that and within a few minutes we scored after Cleaver, B calmly found the net after a sweeping move down the right hand side and fantastic movement from Small and Williams. We knew we were on top now but needed another goal to sew things up. Further opportunities fell to Williams who once again opted for power rather than guile, the result was close, but fruitless. By now we were really dominant - St John in goal was near on redundant Davis & Clark have the centre forwards sewn up and Cleaver & Small were looking to support their wingers where possible. Cleaver, B and Carpenter down the flanks were both clever and resourceful. Pragnell and Harrigan in the middle were busy and effective while Head and Williams pace and power up front were creating opportunities. With around half an hour to go a tactical switch suggested by one of the management team saw Cleaver B and Head switch position. The result was almost immediate with Cleaver, B knocking in the vital second goal from close range with around twenty to go. The last twenty minutes saw the traditional, blatant jug avoidance and further opportunities to increase our lead went begging.
We really did shut out Chislehurst completely in this fixture. I cannot recall them having a single attempt on goal, on or off target. However, I did admire their resilience and competitiveness right up until the final whistle. The centre midfielders competed really well and really tried to haul Chislehurst into the game. The 16 year old centre half also showed a lot of promise and will be one to watch for the future. However, we were really dominant in this game and could afford to miss a number of chances. We were faultless at the back and we now look like the real deal. We look hard to beat and at the same time are knocking in a few goals up front as well. Our team spirit is excellent and the changing room as well as the pitch are decent places to be. Danny Clark got the man of the match from myself which was backed up by the players. However, there were a number of performances worthy of note; Cleaver B for calm and composed finishing and Harrigan really looked lively and creative in the middle. Pragnell had his work cut out in the middle and performed admirably.
Our semi-final date with Hawkenbury is tba but the final is on Good Friday 6th April (should we get through).
This week we are back in league action and are away to Eltham Palace which should be a stiffer test for us. Eltham Palace are a changed team from last season and have a few good results so we will have to be up for this one and on our game. We need to replicate this and recent good performances if we want to get a result. Keep up the good work, plenty of football to be played.
On a differing note, please make sure that you are available for the season''s run in. We could have 13 definite games to play with the possibility of 14 in 10/11 weeks. This could mean Bank Holiday and weekday fixtures. Please be prepared for these.
Our next night out will be provisionally planned for Saturday 24th March. Please ensure all your ‘can I have the night off darling’ forms are completed and signed by the necessary wife/bird/woman/bitontheside/man/pro/pet. ‘Venue’ and plan-of-attack to follow.