Tuesday 24th April 2007
By Shaun Keddle
A real decent result against the champions elect.
Tudor Sports are a strong and decent side and worthy champions. Given the circumstances of not having a recognised goalkeeper, both of our top goalscorers missing, our captain missing, our recognised right back being injured in the first minute, making two substitutions in the first 25 mins and a formation change in the first two minutes this was a fantastic achievement for everyone involved.
Preparation for this game was not good. It’s always a nightmare trying to be organised for midweek games, especially if they are away and in parts of the country where traffic problems are notorious. With St John in goal being injured and Macey’s mere existence was under threat through the dreaded grass-burn virus - Wright kindly stepped in as an ample replacement. However, disaster struck as Wright was stuck in traffic. There were two minutes before kick off and we had no keeper. The position was offered out to the changing room. Cleaver, B was up for it but after being reminded that these were adult goals on an adult pitch he retracted the kind offer. Connelly offered his service between the sticks. This came as a surprise to us as Connelly has been playing for the Guild since Pterodactyl (Barry – ask Lee what this says and means) ruled the skies and nobody had seen him don the sacred gloves. However, he was up for it so we changed the formation to 1-10-0-0.
Within a minute of the kickoff disaster struck again. Small slumped to a heap after an innocuous challenge (or was ‘snipered’ from one of the plush tower blocks of the Ferrier estate, which forms a romantic backdrop to Tudor’s pitch) and was promptly subbed. Jay dropped to right back, Cleaver, B moved across to the right and Martin moved into left midfield. Tudor came at us in the first 15 minutes and Connelly making his goalkeeping debut, pulled off a stunning save after a powerful header from a Tudor forward. Rumours that he was only protecting his big nose remain unfounded. Tudor looked a threat from set pieces and corners, an aspect of our game that we traditionally are quite strong. On 20 minutes Connelly pulled of another good save this time at the feet of their other forward and frustrating Tudor still further. On 25 minutes our original stand-in keeper arrived and took the gloves, but Connelly had more than played his part. However, we had now settled down with the changes and ill-prepared start and started to play some decent football of our own. Pragnell placed a header over the bar when it looked as though we might break the deadlock. Dawson and Harrigan both had chances after good interplay and the Guild finished the half the better side.
After an understandably dodgy start with lots of changes and alterations I was very pleased with the performance and we were starting to show the type of character that would win games. The longer we kept Tudor at bay the more we came into the game as Tudor were keen to put daylight between themselves and the chasing Invicta side.
The second half started and we took control and the lead within the first few minutes after a great move built up from the back by Jay. Perkins, Pragnell and Dawson were all involved in the move before Harrigan showed great strength and pace by holding off the opposition and head goalbound. From twenty yards the space opened up and Harrigan delivered a well struck effort into the bottom corner. We were lifted by the goal, but Tudor started to throw everything at us. Wright in goal made an important number of catches and a couple of chances were missed by the Tudor forwards without even hitting the target. Tudor were starting to see a lot of the ball and we began to sit deep protecting the lead. However, our defence was standing strong. On the break and when the ball was on the deck, Dawson and Harrigan up front were causing havoc. A blocked shot by the keeper spilled to the waiting Pragnell whose effort was cleared off the line. A clear opportunity to put us two up. With around 25 mins gone came Tudor''s equaliser. A throw in to us was reversed by the referee as a foul throw even before the ball was released. Strange. Realising the advantage, the Tudor left back launched a long throw towards his forward. A strong but fair challenge from the commanding Judge was adjudged as a foul although none of the Tudor players appealed. Again, very strange. From the resulting free kick the Tudor forward stepped in front of our defence and nodded the ball home giving Wright no chance (although Connelly claimed he would have not just saved it, but held it. With one hand. With no gloves. While smoking. And drunk). The decisions leading up to the goal were harsh, but you can’t say that we were not warned about defending aerial balls.
The ‘Tudor massif’ on the sides then starting serving their purpose as the twelfth man, claiming everything and making up the ref’s mind for him. A very nice advantage to have if you can get it. The tempo of the game had risen as Tudor pushed on for a winner while the Guild looked to hit them on the break. In the dying embers of the game, the referee overruled the linesman leaving Harrigan clean through. Harrigan’s effort was painfully wide just eluding the goal by centimetres, an effort which would have secured all three points. With seconds left on the clock, a Tudor player was dismissed from the field of play for something that he said to the referee.
The match ended honours even, Tudor had the majority of the play with Farnborough having the more clear cut chances.
Overall, I was very proud of our performance, especially given the circumstances and I must thank Connelly for his services for the first 25 minutes between the sticks, Wright for playing the remainder of the game in the same position and also Martin and Harrigan Jnr for helping me out at the last minute. MOM was Judge who gave a commanding performance at the back, narrowly pipping Harrigan upfront by a single vote. A good performance from Judge since returning from ‘trench foot’ (his words not mine) and a decent performance from Harrigan who has showed us what a good player he is of late (the ‘lazy Dave’ tag is just a jealousy thing Dave, don’t let them get to you just because you do not have to chase your first touch!). Ray Perkins grabbed the manager’s man of the match vote after covering every blade of grass. However, there were good performances across the entire park.
We must carry this spirit and result into our home game against Wickham on Saturday. There have been too many lazy and complacent performances at home of late, something we must look to alter this week. We need to battle hard for that third spot as you never know what can happen. We need to back this good result with a win this weekend. We need to show the same desire, commitment and battling traits shown today and carry that into Saturday.