Saturday 14th October 2006
By Danny Saines
Short of all 3 points - an extremely satisfying performance - especially in consideration of all our other away day travels so far this season.
We went to Eltham Town not knowing too much about them. What I liked were the early text messages informing me who was going straight to the ground and the prompt meeting of everyone else up at the club - so prompt in fact that we were away by twenty to two - unheard of!!
This set up our preparation in good stead which gave us ample time to talk, focus, and warm up - rather than the usual feeling of being rushed. Something which was definitely required because Eltham Town were well up for it, having what looked like a full training session as we entered the arena.
The ground was the best yet to which we have travelled and it was nice not lining up on a postage stamp. We started off with Peter Nolan and Joe Oatley on the bench, fielding Mark Edwards in goal, a flat back four of Greenhough, Adam Benningfield, Village, and Jack Harding - midfielders Daragh Nott and Dave Martin out wide with Rich Davis and Rich Coyne in the centre - with the dynamic scoring duo which is Tant and Dan Head up front. On paper a good squad and I had a feeling that it was going to be a good game to match.
Both teams started well, and it was obvious that Eltham Town could definitely play a bit, working the ball quickly through to midfield and onto their pacy forwards. Cutting out the supply was obvious if we were to settle down and start bossing the tempo. But Eltham were having none of it and they counter attacked down the flanks with vengeance given any opportunity to do so. Jack and Greenhough certainly had their work cut out.
But, saying that, Eltham did look a bit vulnerable at the back and, knowing that our back four could cope, I knew if we could get our supply out to Dave on the left and up to Dan up front, we could certainly make things happen as well.
This we did, with a well worked move, and Dan poaching home first after Tant''s initial effort had been blocked. The Eltham centre back held his hands up to his team mates but I thought it was our quick attacking play, ball passing and movement that had left him exposed to a mistake in the first place. One nil up but Eltham were determined to come back which inevitably they did before the half was out.
At half time we concentrated again on all the positives and it was obvious that everyone was enjoying the battle (albeit in good spirit) and that everyone was up for the second half. Tant, who was suffering from a chest infection, informed the bench of his desire to take a break so the subs were sent out for a warm up at half time and with 5 minutes into the half Peter replaced Tant up front, shortly followed by Joe for Jack at left full back (I''m a poet and I didn''t know it). Peter slotted in comfortably in his favoured ''hole'' position up front, linking well with the midfield and Dan up front. Joe also looked sharp at left back, linking well with Dave in front of him. Overall I was extremely pleased in the effort we were all giving, the drive, passion and commitment. Forgetting the result - this was what was lacking in all our other away games since this season''s campaign had begun.
But - one mistake and you''re punished. We had failed to cut out an instantly hit first time cross from the left, leaving our centre backs exposed which their centre forward took well. Cut out the supply and you cut out the easy goals. Simple. We were caught napping and flat footed and we paid the price. An undeserved two one down but with plenty of time to come back and snatch an equaliser.
Dave then come close with a good effort from outside the box on the left and Daragh had already missed a sitter with his head after another well worked move down the left. Time for Richard Coyne to step up and take control. He had been playing a blinder all game and all he lacked was a place on the score sheet. Not for long. After an attacking move down the right forcing all sorts of corners and throw ins, suddenly the ball gets pinged back out to Rich lurking just inside the 18 yard box, leaving him a perfect invitation to volley it sweetly and first time, low and hard straight through the keeper''s legs. Nice one Cyril.
And for the remainder of the match the game was ours for the taking. The equaliser seemed to knock the wind out of Eltham''s sails and I think that they generally ran out of steam after going hell for fury for most of the 75 minutes already played.
As the clock ticked down a draw seemed like the end result - a point that we said before the game was the least that we could come away with if we wanted to stay up there near the top of the table. Adam came inches close with superbly hit free kick but it was not to be.
As the referee blew the final whistle I think everyone agreed it was the performance that was the overall winner this week – something that we have not travelled with thus far to date away from home, and never for more than 2 consecutive Saturdays on the bounce. This week changed all that. Let''s see if we can continue the same spirit again away to Eltham Royals this week. Another tough away fixture that we all need to be up for again.
Man of the Match by the way was Richard Coyne attaining more than 50% of the votes.