Saturday 7th January 2006
By Danny Saines
Our best win of the season so far along with our best performance.
To travel to the league leaders straight after Christmas and then spank them five one was remarkable. Especially as Forest Hill Park had only dropped 2 points all season. Our preparation was spot on with everyone meeting up at the club in good time, and we left taking 14 (yes, 14!!) players. Although a sterling performance by everyone on the day, I think most of us agreed afterwards that that was the difference for us today - that we had a healthy squad of 14 fit players, which enabled us to push through and take victory.
Our starting 11 was a strong one, with everyone in their best positions and raring to go. On the line we had Matt Gardiner, Village, and Dave Hooper made a return after having been out for over 2 months with an ankle injury. Mark Edwards returned in goal. From the onset it was obvious to us on the line that Forest Hill Park were a quality set up, but we started well and for the first 10 minutes we were the dominating force, taking the game to them, with Ray and Barry going close. Once settled though Forest Hill re-adjusted and started to work our 4-4-2, bringing both their full backs into their attacking play at every opportunity. This brought them back into the game and for the next 10 minutes they reversed our good start and pushed us back into our own half. Once seen though, we were well equipped to sort things out at the back and down the left hand side especially, where Lee and Daragh were being tested by Forest''s attacking strategies. With a couple of ''old pro''s'' on the line (Hooper and Village) we re-sorted our back four, putting end to Forest''s capitalizing spaces. We then had a moment of good fortune which gave us a lucky goal. A mistake by their keeper gifted us an opportunity that at that point we didn''t really deserve, but hey, who''s gonna argue?
At one nil up we settled and it gave us an opportunity to get back into the game which we didn''t let slip by. From then on the match was a fairly even contest. 5 minutes before half time we conceded a sloppy free kick some 25 yards out, and the Forest centre forward put them back into the game with a quality shot which went over the wall at pace, bouncing just in front of Mark and skidding up and inside the post. One apiece at the turn.
At half time Lee was feeling a groin slight groin twinge and I decided that Matt Gardiner would come on as a straight replacement at the start of the second half. Our talk was good at half time and I think everyone knew that this was going to be 45 minutes that they were going relish. Saying that we started the half slow and allowed Forest to take command, although to be fair their opportunities were fairly rare. Not 10 minutes later though, Forest gifted us another goal at the back to put us 2-1 up. How''s yer luck?
Again this woke us up and now we really did start to play, attacking Forest at every opportunity whereupon we forced a quality 3rd goal, giving us a comfortable 2 goal advantage. With half hour to go Forest''s response was sh*t or bust and they brought on another forward to go three up front, but which I knew would leave them one short at the back. Dangerous if you are playing against Ray and Barry when they are on fire. Saying that, with the change of their formation I needed to get Village on asap to reorganise our back 4''s shape and to bring an experienced calming head to the onslaught Forest were trying to mount. This we did with Chris Greenhough coming off after a couple of hefty challenges and a touch of cramp, Daragh moved over to the right and Village slotting straight in at left back.
With Judgie and Jay still battling in the middle of the park, and Kirky finding plenty of open space down the right it was only a matter of time before we got another on a counter attack. When the goal came and with 20 minutes to go, it was time to rest Barry and bring on Hooper who would sit in the hole just behind Ray, linking up with the midfield. Dave looked comfortable and it was good to see him back. At 4-1 Forest looked dejected and the 5th came with minutes to go.
A fantastic performance that everyone should be proud of. Let''s have more of the same this week please boys.