Saturday 4th February 2006
By Danny Saines
A gritty 2 - 1 win that puts us nicely into the quarter finals of the Kent County Cup Group B. Well done boys. A fantastic performance against a tough opposition.
After losing 3 key players for various reasons I knew a challenge lay ahead. But boy did we respond. The game started fast and furious and I think we all knew after about 2 minutes that this was not going to be a stroll in the park! Loose were well up for it and took the game to us at every opportunity, closing us down, pumping the ball long down the centre, and chasing everything. They were strong in the challenges and would not let us settle on the ball thus not allowing us to start playing to our strengths. Although tight we matched them on every level giving as good as we got, which was good to see. Whereas others may have laid down and been intimidated we rose to the challenge.
When Loose went one up after a fairly clear cut penalty decision I thought we had just about started to come into our own and were trying to play some decent football which was a shame (the penalty not the football) as I thought we were due something before the half. One-nil down but again we rallied and our heads did not drop. When Ray equalised 5 minutes before half time Loose wobbled and we were unlucky to come in at one a piece. No need for a strong half time team talk as now everyone knew what was at stake. Loose would not be giving this up that easily and although Mark did not have that much to do between the sticks we knew that they would punish us at any given opportunity.
We started the second half well though, especially down the right where Greenhough & Daragh got my partnership of the match. Only once had they let Loose''s dangerman fast winger through (causing the penalty in the first half), but now it was their turn to press forward, pushing the Loose left hand side back. Our spine started bossing down the centre as well, and Tant was put through on a number of occasions. Unfortunately for us not only was the Loose keeper excellent at set pieces he was also quick off his line as well. He wasn''t quick enough though to see the lightning move we put together which resulted in Bazza getting the winner. Out of nowhere we put 4 or 5 quick passes together and tore them apart. Barry taking it well, smashing low and through the Loose keeper. Wallop!! Tant, who by this time had run his knackers off, came off for Gibbo with strict instructions to create havoc with Loose''s defence and to break up the play as much as possible. We had 20 minutes left on the clock and I didn''t want it going to extra time.
With just under 15 minutes to go Jay Hardy got a twinge in his ankle, allowing me to bring on Kevin as a debut. Kevin looked comfortable considering how frantic the game had become with Loose trying everything to get themselves back into the cup tie. But for once the referee did not decide to play 10 minutes injury time and before I knew it the whistle had gone and we were through to the quarters. The ref by the way was excellent, especially under quite testing circumstances.
My man of the match went to Terry. His first half performance with Lee down the left was spot on, winning some important challenges and headers to keep Loose at bay.
Back to the league campaign this week boys with probably the most important game of the season for us if we wish to gain automatic promotion back into the Premier. But with a performance like Saturday''s I don''t think we''ll have much to worry about.