Saturday 22nd September 2007
By Shaun Keddle
A ground-out and battling performance against strong opposition
It''s always a joy to play on the decent surface at the Beaverwood club and when you have Eltham Palace playing against you and they are at home, it''s always going to be a tough and physical encounter. Today was no different.
However, it was the Guild that had the early control of the game, passing and probing the ball around the park looking for the balls out wide. After 15 minutes Williams, L was adjudged to be tripped in the box and duly converted the penalty. 10 minutes later a deep cross into the box caused confusion in the Palace defence which resulted in the keeper clashing with two defenders and the ball being slapped into the net by the unfortunate keeper. 2-0. At this stage it was all us and we looked in control of the game only limiting Palace to the odd breakaway. Just before the half the game should have been put beyond doubt when a great run and pass by Cleaver, L found Cooke, J on the left hand side of the box. The forward jinked past one challenge and then another and then saw his finish roll agonisingly wide after sending the keeper the wrong way. The half ended with the Guild in the driving seat.
At the half we spoke about discipline and keep moving the ball out wide as that is where our success was going to be had. We knew that Palace would come at us after the break and we would have to be patient in our approach.
The second half was a different story as Palace appeared to control the game for most of the half. They played more directly in the second half, by-passing the midfield. However, we were solid and controlled at the back until 20 minutes into the half and an individual error meant that we conceded for the second time this season. There was a huge slice of misfortune and the Palace forward would not score an easier goal in his life.
This error gave Palace hope. In past seasons we may have crumbled and probably walked away with a draw or even a loss. However, there is far more strength and depth nowadays and McKeown replaced Small at right back with Roots replacing Evans in the middle. The two changes gave us a more defensive look about us as we aimed to protect what we had and maybe catch Palace on the break. A few breakaways gave us the opportunity to put the result beyond doubt but we failed to take advantage of these. We saw out the game to win 2-1.
Although our second half performance was not of the greatest quality, there are many positives to take from this. Eltham Palace are a strong, resilient side and we matched them physically and proved to ourselves that we can grind out results and battle when we need to battle. We can also gain confidence in defending a lead when needed and even when we were not playing to the standard of previous weeks, still go away from home and get a result. We have only conceded two goals in three league games which is a decent record and shows that we are still mean and tight at the back. We also showed excellent discipline throughout this encounter which will be a key factor in our attempt to gain promotion.
Man-of-the-match went to Cooke, R for a very battling and competitive display. He went about his business with great efficiency; being very effective in the middle of the park. Some timely tackles, great headers and fluid distribution ensured we won the midfield battle. Other good performances were St John in goal – dealing with a lot of aerial balls and Davis at the back for a controlled and calculated performance. It was also excellent to see the tactical substitutions paid off with the boys coming on sticking to the more defensive game plan.
This result has put us top (albeit only three games played) on goal difference. On Saturday we have Wickham Park at home and if we win we go 3 points clear and leave others chasing – it''s as simple as that. Again we have a strong squad with plenty of depth and I will look to change things slightly – please bear with me! Please make sure that training is fully attended so we are fully prepared come the weekend. Training will commence at 6.30pm at the club house.
Farnborough: 1. St John (GK); 2. Small (RB); 3. Cleaver, L (LB); 4. Judge (CB); 5. Davis (CB); 6. Cooke (CM); 7. Williams, J (RM); 8. Evans, S (CM); 9. Williams, L (CF); 10. Cooke, J (CF); 11. Cleaver, B (LM)
Subs: 12. Head for 9. Williams, L; 13. McKeown for 2. Small; 14. Roots for 8. Evans
Eltham Palace: 1. Bray; 2. Long; 3. Smith; 4. Kohler; 5. Dorney; 6. Naden; 7. Badham; 8.Golek; 9. Williams; 10: Morley; 11. Bunce.
Subs: 12. Adamson; 14. Devito; 15 Skinner; 16. Niblett; 17. Ritrovato