Monday 7th May 2007
By Shaun Keddle
Squad: 1. Edwards; 2. Pragnell; 3. Wright; 4. Davis; 5. Judge; 6. Clark; 7. Hardy; 8. Perkins; 9. Harrigan; 10. Cleaver B (12. Head); 11. Cleaver, L (15. Martin)
Subs not used: 14. Connelly; 16. Tanton; 17. Benningfield
A convincing and dominating display to lift the silverware for the second time in three seasons.
After not winning FOBG’s ‘Holy Grail’ of trophies for over 60 years, we have now won it twice in 3 years. Cup finals are great occasions and brilliant days out which are made even better by winning. The victory was made more complete by understanding that we had 4 regular players out – the Williams boys who were my two leading goal scorers, St John our regular goalkeeper and Small our regular right back. My sympathy is with all of you, especially St John who missed playing in the final for the second time. However, despite the absentees, selections were very difficult and it’s the manager’s most difficult job in selecting what he thinks is best. I would like to give special thanks to all 5 subs – Head, Connelly, Martin, Tanton and Benningfield.
Preparation for the game was again excellent. We decided to go suited and booted to give the respect that a cup like this deserved and we certainly looked the part, except for St John who looked like a blue-suited Sainsbury’s delicatessen manager. Everyone looked pristine in their suits, even though I had to use a shoe-horn to fit into mine and somebody stole my neck during the photo shoot. Even Barry looked intelligent – until he spoke.
It was clear that we were confident and up for this game and everyone was talking positively about this game and the future. The main message in the changing room was to be confident and enjoy it and to impose our tempo and fitness onto the game.
The game kicked off and we really dominated proceedings. Judge at the back was vocal and commanding and we were passing the ball around with confidence and conviction. Good early chances were there to be taken but Cleaver B and Pragnell failed to take advantage of heading opportunities and Perkins and Clark failed to hit the target from long range opportunities. On 20 minutes our goalkeeper got his first touch of the ball which was reflective of how dominant we were. An early injury to Orpington’s big forward meant an early substitution and he was helped from the field of play. Despite the dominance, it could have been Orpington that took the lead after the right midfielder broke through and failed to hit the target on an effort that should have at least worked the keeper. 5 mins later the deadlock was broken as the ball was swung in from a corner from the right hand side that was met on the volley by Pragnell who found the top corner of the net. We scored from a corner at last! It was a deserved lead, but it also woke up Orpington who started to come into the match a little more.
The half finished 1-0 which was not truly reflective of the dominance we had. At he half we reminded ourselves that the job was only half done and that a one goal lead was only the slimmest of margins and we needed a second goal. FOBG took to the field of play early as we were eager to make the most of our good form and seize the initiative as early as possible. Again we seized control of the game with Clark and Perkins instrumental in dominating the midfield. Clark was building from the back, getting things started and breaking down play where necessary. Perkins'' tireless work rate was really starting to take its toll on a tired looking Orpington midfield. Perkins was always probing and asking questions of Orpington’s defence. At the back Davis and Judge were controlling the Orpington front two, but our commanding performance meant that we restricted them to minimal opportunities and little service. Wright at left back was also very solid and proving what a big game player he is. Pragnell at right back was linking up well with the forward play, marauding effectively down the right hand side. Both Harrigan and Cleaver upfront had their work cut out as they worked effectively against two very tight marking centre halves who were obviously looking to protect their very good defensive record. Harrigan did well holding the ball up and bringing Perkins into the play while Cleaver operated slightly deeper, collecting the ball from the midfield and running at the defence whenever he could.
We worked Orpington hard in the second half and ‘white Cafu’ Pragnell had an effort saved on the line from Copeland in the Orpington goal (who despite his obvious disappointment had a good game in goal). Edwards in the Guild’s goal only had one telling contribution to make, saving well at the feet of the on-rushing forward. With only being a goal to the good, you are always open to a sucker punch and Orpington would have always felt that they were still in it. On 70 mins came the killer goal. Excellent work from Perkins released Harrigan on the right hand side who threaded a ball through to the ‘injured’ Cleaver B who slotted home from 12 yards. Cleaver B was subbed a few minutes later and replaced by the ever-eager Head. With 10 minutes remaining, Martin replaced Cleaver L. With only a few minutes left on the clock, Harrigan again was the provider as he unselfishly squared the ball to Head who finished the proceedings, slotting into an empty net.
The final whistle went and the Guild ran out deserved winners and Orpington knew they had been beaten by the better side. All credit to Orpington who did exceptionally well reaching the final and beating a lot of higher ranked sides along the way. I am sure they will back fighting for the title next year and will have learnt a lot from their experience.
The ‘Sevenoaks Chronicle’ man of the match award went to Danny Clark who was excellent throughout this encounter and the partnership in the centre of the park with Ray Perkins was instrumental to our success. Perkins himself picked up the manager''s man of the match which was backed up with the players'' votes as well. Well done to you both on excellent performances.
Saying that, everyone had good games in a very controlled and deserved performance. Credit also goes to the officials who were excellent throughout this encounter. I would like to thank everyone involved in this success and that does not include just the players who played. My thanks goes to the subs, our reserves who done us a massive favour on the Saturday beforehand and all the club officials and everyone connected to the club. Special thanks goes to the supporters especially the ones that turn up week in week out. However, extra special thanks goes to Mace and Connelly for their support and input throughout the season.
On a slightly differing note for all those who do not like my match reports – please don’t read them then! I will continue to write from the heart and write as I see it and will not change. It’s ‘all or nothing’ with me. Whether they get posted in the newsletter or on the website is not up to me and I respect the decisions of the people who make those decisions. Also, I make my team selections as I feel fit – that’s why I am manager and I take full responsibility for my decisions. Please let me concentrate on what I am good at as actions speak louder than words and I have brought in plenty of silverware over the last 10 years or so.
Next season can we win the league please, please, pretty please?
P.S. Eddie Hill (our ever so polite groundsman!) has won groundsman of the year this year. This is a fabulous personal achievement for Eddie and completely deserved. Everyone knows how good our pitch is over the last few years and Eddie''s valuable contribution has been key to its condition. Well done Eddie, now all we gotta to do is learn to play on it!