Saturday 21st April 2007
By Shaun Keddle
Squad: 1. St John (19. Jay); 2. Small; 3. Cleaver; 4. Davis; 5. Wright; 6. Pragnell ©; 7. Head; 8. Perkins; 9. Harrigan, D; 10. Cleaver, B; 11. Connelly (16. Harrigan, G)
Fortress Farnborough turns Failure Farnborough as we once again blow our promotional hopes due to lack of performance, consistency and too many Jekyll and Hyde performances across the season.
In a weekend when at least one of the top two were going to drop points we needed all three points to follow up our big win during the week. A lacklustre performance which lacked creativity and killer instinct made Chipstead the deserved winners. Let’s make something clear - we were not unlucky, it was not the ref''s fault, we only have ourselves to blame.
Chipstead came to us with a depleted squad and looked as though they lacked motivation. They did not have a recognised goalkeeper and did not possess a particularly mobile defence. They did however possess proven goalscorers in the shape of Mollah and Wood. We did have the notable absentees of both our top scorers – Williams, L and J along with the injuries of Clark and Judge. Jay and Dawson were also unavailable. However, we still had a squad with enough quality to go and grab all three points.
Within 30 secs we lost our goalkeeper after a collision outside the area. It was a big blow and extremely early in the game to have such bad luck. However, we started very well passing the ball about with a lot of confidence and retaining possession well. At this stage we looked in full control and it did appear that it was just a question of time before we were going to score. The goal came on 20 mins and it was a great move which was superbly despatched into the top corner by Cleaver, B. From this we should have upped the tempo, pushed on and bagged a few more. Instead, we chose not to be positive and get this game won and instead within minutes of the goal we started the whining, whinging and griping at team mates and the ref. This clearly affected players'' confidence as we once again proceeded to shoot ourselves in the foot. When will players leave their egos at home? When will players learn that negative and unconstructive comments DO affect the scoreline? When will players understand that encouragement works, not personal insults? When will players learn when its time to shut the f*ck up? It’s now cost us 6 vital points – home to Chipstead and away to Tonbridge. Golden rule – if it is not constructive don’t say it. End of.
To be fair, we played some okay football at times but lacked that killer instinct and never really produced many chances. The chances we had were only half chances and we never really tested the stand-in keeper. The only other notable chance was in the second half when Cleaver, B went through only to be thwarted by the legs of the keeper. The second goal was vital but we were never really inventive or creative enough in the last third to find it. With twenty minutes left we really did start to run out of ideas and Chipstead realised they were in with a chance. An effort from Mollah was just wide after we did not close him down quickly enough and a free kick a few minutes later was just wide of the target. These two close calls should have sprung a reaction or some sort of response. I got neither and we were playing a dangerous game. With around 4 minutes on the clock a corner was headed in from close range after poor marking. When do we ever score from corners? Never ever is the answer. One apiece but still enough time to cultivate a response. It was all Chipstead after this and when Wood rounded our substitute keeper in injury time and neatly finished from an acute angle, we got we deserved – nothing.
There were one or two notable performances though. Perkins covered every blade of grass and really tried to make these happen. He picked up a few votes as a result. Cleaver, L walked way with the majority of votes after a very tidy and efficient performance at left back. Well done to you both.
All credit to Chipstead though for hanging in there and having belief. They kept going and going and got better and better as the game went on. However, we only have ourselves to blame for handing them that belief. We never really responded to the challenge set and crumpled under the pressure of a must win game at a very vital weekend in the season. Saturday was such a low point after the highs of Wednesday’s performance.
What we must do now is pick ourselves up and perform to a higher standard against Tudor on Tuesday. We do have a stronger squad as we have a few players that will return from absence and injury. However, we must cut out the childish bickering and all egos are to be left at home. We need to string a few victories together and finish as high as possible up the league as you never know what can happen in the close season. We also need to get our confidence back up as our final is only two weeks away and everyone is playing for places.