Saturday 5th November 2011
By Richard Tapsfield
After a week off and the avoidance of Meridian away we returned for a home league fixture, against newly promoted Chislehurst Sports. Even though we had a few regulars out we still had a strong 14 to pick from and were confident of taking all 3 points.
We started brightly and dominated possession early, with most of our best play going through our midfield 3 of Lenton, Ellis and Law who in turn were able to utilise our full backs and wingers, who seemed to have acres of space out wide. It was clear Chislehurst came with a game plan to keep it tight, lining up in a 5-4-1 formation which saw them struggle to get out of their own half, but at the same time limit the number of chances we were able to create.
Our first chance fell to leading goalscorer Godward. A short corner from Lenton on the right allowed Tapsfield to cross to the near post where Godward\'s neat flick clipped the top of the bar and went over. At the other end Chislehurst rightly had a penalty appeal turned down after player-manager Barnes clearly nicked the ball away from the striker, although I\'ve seen them given! Shortly after, another good move through the middle saw Godward find Ellis whose chip to the back post looked to be heading in, leaving the defender facing the difficult prospect of hooking the ball away on the line whilst facing the goal. Fortunately for him he didn\'t have to worry about that as an over excited Barnes smashed straight in to the back of him sending him flying in to the goal and the chance was gone. Finally just before the break we got the goal that we deserved. A corner from the left was curled neatly in to the near post by Barnes where Law lost his marker and glanced in an excellent header for 1-0.
From here we probably expected to go on and win the game comfortably, knowing that Chislehurst would now need to be less defensive and come at us a bit more, thus allowing us more space in the attacking third. We weathered an early storm from the visitors that produced little and shortly after had a great chance to double our lead when a good ball in from the left found Godward alone in the box. Unfortunately he never got himself set and the defender recovered to make a decent block. From here on in Chislehurst seemed to grow in confidence and started to press the ball far more than they had done previously and as a consequence we started to give the ball away regularly. A sustained period of pressure from the visitors eventually brought its reward after a free kick to the back post was bundled in and despite the home side’s appeals and the linesman\'s flag the referee gave the goal. Shortly after, another free kick saw a similar chance magnificently saved by Clarkson who somehow clawed the ball away when a goal looked certain.
The remaining quarter of an hour was played out with little incident and although we started to retain the ball a little better again we failed to create any clear chances, until right at the death. A long punt forward saw the visitors’ left back miss the ball allowing us to break down the wing and a simple ball across the box found Knight just inside the box with the goal at his mercy, however at this point the referee decided to blow for full time. Although the referee would point out that it was full time and thus the whistle was due, in all the years of playing and watching football I have never seen the full time whistle blown at such a point! On top of this he\'d only played two extra minutes, which I find hard to take given how often he stopped the game and the amount of time the ball goes out of play on our pitch!
A disappointing end to a disappointing performance and a game where we should have taken maximum points. We will need to be more ruthless in future if we are to maintain our aspirations of promotion!
Team: Clarkson S., Tapsfield R., Webster D., Craske L., Martin D., Hussey J. (Knight M)., Barnes A. (Ahmed A)., Ellis M (Pile R)., Law A., Lenton S., Godward D.
Man of the match: Dom Webster