Saturday 1st December 2007
By Sam Evans
What a great performance this was. We did just about everything right; competed, passed well, took our chances and generally put in a great performance. We also scored some terrific goals.
The first half was tough. Having lost the toss we had to play into the wind which led to a few of those 5-10 minutes spells where you feel like the opposition are camped in your half. But you have to deal with that, and we did. Dan Ford made a couple of great saves on his debut and commanded the box well. Richard Tapsfield returned at right back and put in a solid performance, as did Peter Morton at left back. Another performance worthy of note was Piers Moss. Making his debut for the second team (having moved up from the thirds) Piers put in a combative performance in centre midfield, and also used the ball well.
As well as defending resolutely we managed to create a couple of decent chances in the first half. The best of these came when Aaron Carpenter was released down the right wing and he delivered a beautiful cross to the far post which I failed to convert. But 0-0 at half time (against a team who beat us 5-2 earlier in the season) was nothing to be ashamed of. During the break we agreed we’d all worked very hard and deserved to be on level terms. We also thought that the second half would be easier with the wind at our back. Bobby Moulson came on up front, replacing Piers Moss, and we moved Paul Tanton back into centre midfield. We returned to the pitch after some rousing words from Danny, and some jelly babies.
We scored a great goal almost straight away. Dan ‘The Sheriff’ Head picked the ball up 25 yards out, dropped his shoulder, and struck a powerful, dipping shot into the far corner of the net. We’d spoken at half time about the importance of testing the keeper, so it was pleasing to see Dan so quick on the draw when the opportunity presented itself. We really began to boss the game at this stage, passing the ball much better than we have in recent weeks. Dan Head had his finger on the trigger again a few minutes later, capping a great passing move with a powerful shot which clipped the inside of the post. The ball rebounded out to Bobby Moulson who finished clinically from a few yards out.
At 2-0 we lost our way a little, and found ourselves having to dig in again. Our passes were going astray - some players felt we were trying to over-elaborate, although as we all know, that’s easy for Rich to say. Despite the fact that we didn’t create any decent chances for 15 minutes, we continued to battle well and limited Eltham to speculative shots from outside the box. During this period we knew that we needed a third to kill the game, and it arrived when we moved the ball well down the left wing before Bobby squared the ball to Aaron Carpenter at the far post. Aaron had a couple of seconds before the defender could get to him, which sometimes makes it harder, but Aaron kept his head and took a good first touch, before firing the ball powerfully into the far corner.
This goal seemed to spark us back into life, and we really started shooting from the hip. Paul Tanton and myself in centre midfield started to find we had more and more time to pass the ball around and as a team we started to create chances again. Aaron took a corner from the right wing and Dan Head reacted well to turn Adam Benningfield’s header into the roof of the net. Our fifth goal was another cracker. Eltham played a ball over the top which our sweeper Richard Davies read well and moved across to clear. Despite being under pressure, Rich managed to direct his clearance into the channel which is often a good strategy in that position because there’s a chance their defenders will be slow to react. They were in this case, and first to the ball was Aaron Carpenter. Aaron sprinted to the ball ahead of their full back and found himself on the right hand corner of the penalty area. As the keeper advanced he saw Aaron lob the ball over his head and into the back of the net with his first touch. This was probably the pick of some excellent goals today. The game was effectively over by this stage but we still had one goal left in us; an impressive half-volley from outside the box by our second debutant, Anthony Dine, who also had a great game in left midfield.
We had some key players missing this week but those who came in took their chance and have given Danny a real headache in terms of selection for next week, but that’s how it should be. It was also great to score a few goals and play some good football, it was about time we hammered someone like this. Next week we have St Lawrence Reserves in the Cup. I’m pretty sure there aren’t any showers at the ground so people need to plan to have showers back at the club. Then I hope as many of us as possible still fancy a few beers after the game – everyone I spoke to this Saturday was up for it. We got a bye in the first round of this cup competition so we’re only four games from the final now. We need to carry the momentum forward from this week so we can celebrate a place in the last 16 on Saturday night.
Man of the match: Dan Head