Saturday 21st April 2007
By Sam Evans
I t’s always disappointing to come away with a draw having been one-nil up, but on reflection this was a good point. Despite their lowly league position, Cray Valley had some decent players (particularly Julius in centre midfield) and an ability to attack swiftly in numbers which we struggled to cope with at times.
In the baking heat we donned our sun cream and made our way out onto a pitch with less ‘give’ in it than your school playground. Prior to kick off the ref was tying his laces and Gibbo struck a volley which narrowly missed his head – perhaps this might have knocked the sense into him to overrule some of the offside decisions from the Cray Valley linesman. In the first half we played very well, managing to string some passing moves together on the bobbly surface, and deserving to take the lead on the half hour. Dave Martin went on a jinking run down the left, displaying good strength and footwork before unleashing a shot too hot for the keeper to handle. Gibbo deserved the tap-in having worked hard to get into a supporting position. We continued to look dangerous for the rest of the first half – Richard Davies in centre midfield and David Geonaga in right midfield working hard to get the ball down and play at every opportunity. Paul Tanton linked the play up well between midfield and attack.
Cray Valley’s lack of organisation was both a strength and a weakness – defensively we were able to slice them open with just a couple of passes, and perhaps should have been two up at half time. On the other hand, their lack of structure (just what was their formation?) led to them creating some decent chances as their attacking players appeared from all angles. Our defence worked hard, with Paul Burford turning in a great display at centre back, including a trademark ‘cruncher’ on the edge of the box. The first half was also notable for Paul Tanton’s attempt to nutmeg his opponent on the right wing – not once but twice, Tant eventually settling for a throw in. At half time we felt quietly confident of scoring more goals – a confidence expressed in Djan’s smile as he soaked up the rays on the touchline.
In the second half we continued to create space and slide balls into the channels…..only for our friend with the flag to let us down. He must have had a sore wrist on Sunday morning. Our best chance was when Richard Davies swung a lovely free kick into the box and Gibbo headed powerfully into the corner – only for the goal to be ruled out for offside. Two nil would have finished the game but it wasn’t to be.
To be fair to Cray Valley they kept plugging away and we worked hard defensively to shut them out – big performances from Pete Morton at left back, Chris Greenhough at right back, and Paul Parsons in the centre. Djan Akwasi replaced Richard Davies in centre midfield and worked hard in a great team effort to secure the points. Despite our resilient defending, and constant threat going forward, Cray equalised with 20 minutes to go and came close to taking all the three points on a couple of occasions, were it not for some great saves from Mark Edwards. Pete Morton also cleared a shot off the line.
The most important thing is that we all left the pitch having enjoyed the game. As Danny said, this really is what it’s all about. It was refreshing after the frayed tempers of last week to be part of a battling team performance where we all pulled together and won a point which edges us further towards safety. Next week is Seven Acre Sports at home so we can put right what went wrong in Plumstead. As it is the last home game of the season it will be nice to have a few beers together after the game.