Saturday 10th November 2007
By Shaun Keddle
Sometimes you earn your luck in football. On Saturday we did not earn it, we rode it.
Otford football club was the setting for this well contested 1st round Sevenoaks Cup tie and it’s a shame that there are not a few more clubs and grounds around like Otford – an excellent pitch with excellent facilities, which the club is quite rightly very proud of.
Both teams have had very similar starts to the season, so we knew it was going to be a tough match. Otford looked much the younger side with an average age of around 23 (you can always tell when a side is young by the amount of ‘WAG’s’ in the 30+ crowd…they were quality WAG’s though – which is always nice - congrats to the Otford boys!).
The game kicked off and the Guild were kicking into a strong wind. Within the first few minutes Williams, L went clean through but opted for power rather than precision and launched the ball into orbit, never to be seen again!
After this initial burst the game settled down and Otford were the dominate side for the entire half. Two excellent saves from St John kept the scores level. Admittedly the wind was playing a part in Otford’s domination but we could not seem to string any succession of passing together and the ball looked alien to us. I have never seen us just kick the ball to ‘nothing’ so many times before.
We were lucky to see out the half level and re-grouped for the second half to see if a change in half and tactics would have a reaction on us. Tactically, we went three at the back to match Otford, who were dominating the midfield. Pragnell was relieved of his centre half duties and pushed into the middle; this in turn pushed Perkins and Cooke further up the field. Cleaver and Small, the full backs, tucked in to form part of a defensive three with Davis.
The half started and the wind dropped!
Otford started as they left off dominating the game with lots of possession. Their short fluid passing was causing us problems, especially out wide, but with no significant chances on goal.
With around 15 minutes gone, Otford got the deserved break they were looking for. Good work out wide was nullified by a good save from St John. The ball broke loose and St John brought down the Otford forward with a rash and unnecessary challenge, when he had his back to goal. The penalty was tucked away to the keeper''s right. 1-0. Our response was within a few minutes when our first chance of the second half was converted by Cooke, J whose shot was struck into the ground and bounced over the keeper and into the net. 1-1 appeared a little harsh to the home side.
10 minutes later and Otford regained the lead after Havosen took advantage of a goalmouth scramble which regained the narrow advantage.
With around 10 minutes remaining it looked as though the holders were out until Cooke, J came to the Guild''s rescue with a clever finish past the keeper following a ball back in from a corner. Otford should have made the tie safe in the dying minutes but wasted a couple of decent opportunities.
Into extra time and 5 minutes into the extended period and Otford took the lead through a quick and pacy break which was finished off well by the substitute Hills. This looked to have been the decisive and deserved goal to finish the fixture, but with just under 10 minutes left on the clock, Farnborough were again back in it when a mis-hit clearance by an Otford defender found the back of his own net.
Onto the pens then; Otford to take first:
Otford: Goal! - Pen finds net, keeper close to saving
Guild: Goal! – Davis - Emphatic pen sending keeper wrong way
Otford: Miss! – St John saves to his right
Guild: Goal! – Cleaver, B smashes the ball into the side netting to give the keeper no chance
Otford: Goal! – Great pen to keep Otford in it
Guild: Goal! – Cooke, J finds the net with a low and accurate shot
Otford: Goal! – Good pen again keeps them in it
Guild: Miss! – Taliban Roots ‘shoots’ over the bar to put Otford back on level terms
Otford: Miss! – St John saves to his right again, to give Williams, L the chance to win it
Guild: Goal! – Williams’ cool finish sees the Guild through
Otford can count themselves unlucky with this game; they played the better football and looked more competitive than us and will scratch their heads as to why it was not them that progress to the quarter finals.
The Guild on the other hand must look to improve; we need to return to the short quick passing, the one or two touch football and the pass and move style which made us perform better in the early part of the season. Lack of proper training is definitely one of the reasons that will be rectified this week. We will also look at the way we approach games and conduct our pre-match warm-up. However, these games even themselves out across a season and if you look back at the Wickham park game a few weeks earlier, maybe you can begin to understand why; a game when we played well, completely dominated but took no points.
Man-of-match could only really go to two people; Cooke, J for his excellent hold up play and clinical finishing or St John for a number of quality saves that kept us in the fixture and two crucial saves in the shoot-out. Other half decent performances came from Pragnell who battled well but was forced off with injury and Williams, L who got battered for the cause. However, St John ended up with the accolade after Williams, J changed his vote via text on Sunday, following St John giving Williams, J a lift home (probably via Hampstead Heath). A stewards'' enquiry into the legitimacy of the voting switch will be held in the changing room, after next week''s game.
This week we are back in league action where we must look to improve if we intend to progress.
Farnborough: 1. St John (GK); 2. Small (RB); 3. Cleaver, L (LB); 4. Pragnell (CB); 5. Davis (CB); 6. Cooke, R (CB); 7. Williams, J (RM); 8. Perkins (CM); 9. Williams, L© (CF); 10. Cooke, J (CF); McKeown (LM)
Subs: 11. McKeown for 12. Cleaver, B; 4. Pragnell for 14. Roots, M; 2. Small for 13. Judge