Sunday 4th November 2007
By Vince Wray
Every time we take a couple of steps forward to improving our game and results, we take one step backwards. Inconsistency is a terrible thing in sport and after 2 months of the season gone, it is certainly a criticism that can be levelled at us at the moment. We just simply did not put in an acceptable performance. Again we started poorly, however our malaise lasted at least 20-25 minutes this time. Additionally the whole game was littered with individual and collective errors from us in all positions. Was it us? Are we not giving enough credit to a strong, capable Oxted team, who outplayed us for long periods? A combination of those things probably. What is for certain, is that whoever we play, if we defend like we did and give away ‘gift wrapped’ goals we will ALWAYS be struggling to get a result, the same as we will if we spurn the sort of chances that came our way in the last 10 minutes of the game.
I’m too embarrassed to write an individual account of each goal conceded, suffice to say, we were 3-0 down with about 35 minutes played and the goals conceded were poor from our point of view. The centre of their midfield was in command for most of the time and pulling all the strings, but we did make him look good, no one went near him, he needed to be ‘tackled’. Additionally they have a left winger who not only has genuine pace, but aggression and skill too, who was reaping havoc down our right side. Again I was dying to see one of us give him a good ‘challenge’ but it didn’t happen. Sandwiched in between, Stevens had a goal disallowed for offside when it looked like he was ‘on’. Their linesman making the controversial decision of course. This could have made it 2-1, instead they maintained the 2-0 lead and then increased it. Holmes delivered a far post cross which Bridges headed in to make it 3-1 before half time which was enough to keep us in the game and keep our spirit up. In truth the real damage had already been done.
The 2nd half showing was better – slightly. Our defensive play was still poor though. We looked more threatening. Keyworth was making more his runs forward, Stevens found a bit more space and Holmes and Bridges were making a fight of it upfront. They made it 4-1 when they dinked a ball over the top our defence their centre forward ran through and easily finished past Burkett (nobody challenging the midfielder playing the ball, defence completely square nobody covering, keeper unaware of his goal positioning). That one I’ve dissected because all of it was so basic with its errors and was a ‘gift’ again.
Stevens crossed for Bridges who got a slight glancing header on the ball and into the corner. 4-2 now and we sensed a possible comeback, the lads visibly lifted, until we committed suicide leaving one of them clearly unmarked and unchallenged at a corner to make it 5-2. There was still 17 minutes left on my watch, Bridges had a thunderous shot well saved and trickled another shot past the post, Stevens had a long range effort and Holmes volleyed over the bar, additionally Fryer smacked a chance against the bar in the last minute. There was a general consensus that we created a good 9-10 chances whereas everything that fell to them went in. We had our opportunities to make amends but couldn’t make those chances count.
My personal opinion is that we need to concentrate on a fast start to the game and a mentality to keep everything tight early on. I’m not for one moment suggesting that we abandon our attacking culture altogether but just be sensible and aware of the need to keep things tight at the back. The good things is we’ve got another came next week, another Sunday, another game, a different result hopefully. However we must learn from our mistakes and put things right next time and forget about this one. I’m sure we will. Concentrate on the positives and correct the cock-ups and keep our heads up high. We’ll be back to winning ways before you know it. Let’s learn from our mistakes lads and put it right with a victory next week.