Saturday 12th February 2011
By Richard Tapsfield
Following on from last week's excellent 2-1 win at home to table toppers Bridon Ropes 'A', we travelled to Eltham to the always delightful STC Sports Ground. The people here are always nice (especially the ladies in the tea hut who filled up our water bottles - something I wouldn't suggest we ask Shirley to do!), but the facilities and pitches are unfortunately not so great! We therefore knew we would likely be in for a tough game.
Finally we have started to get a consistent squad out each week and have even had the luxury of a few subs in recent weeks, however with this comes the problem of keeping everyone happy and making sure we rotate to give everyone a decent run in the team. With that in mind we changed things up again slightly from the previous week's winning team. Jumbo returned to help out between the sticks for the absent Sam Clarkson (which as always is massively appreciated) and Ellis moved to centre half to replace baby sitting skipper Luke - allowing Ben to return at right back. In midfield Dan came back in after a couple of weeks on the bench, which left Joe unfortunate to start on the line. We lined up as follows:
(GK) Sam Clarkson
(RB) Ben Dutton
(CB) Matt Ellis
(CB) Matt Davies
(LB) Dave Martin
(RM) Al Barnes
(CM) Nigel Johnstone
(CM) Louis Hussey (C) - No really he was!
(LM) Dan Head
(CF) Russell Nethercot
(CF) James Learmouth
We started really well and got our rewards early when Dan Head headed in from close range for 1-0. However after this and just like two weeks ago against Bexlians, we started to play terribly and allowed Tudor to equalise about 15 minutes in and then go close again when only an excellent save from Jumbo stopped them taking the lead. Fortunately this time around this seemed to spur us on and we began to dominate the game again, playing some excellent football from back to front on what was a boggy and difficult pitch. What was most pleasing to see was the confidence in our play with everyone wanting the ball and keeping the passes short and crisp. The back four were the catalyst for this with both Ben and Dave especially, dropping off to pick the ball up from Jumbo and then having the options of either Nigel and Louis in the middle of the park or the ball down the line to Al and Dan.
We were soon back in front when Al raced clear and coolly finished for 2-1 and soon after that Dan grabbed his second with a battling run and cool finish in to the bottom of the corner. This was just as well as a couple of minutes before he did pretty much miss an open goal with a header that was put over the bar!
A few minutes before half time we scored again in what was probably one of our best goals this season. Some excellent pass and move in the middle of the park saw us release Nev, who played an excellent ball with the outside of his foot to release Al down the right who excellently clipped the ball over the on-rushing keeper for his second and our fourth goal of the game. All in all a pretty decent half of football that saw us go in 4-1 up.
The second half was unfortunately a bit of a drab affair, although it started well with us scoring again to make it 5-1. This time Al turned provider beating his man on the right and whipping in a great ball for Louis to volley in. The rest of the half was then a bit of a non event as we seemed to take our foot of the gas knowing the result was safe. Tudor grabbed a second goal on the break and there was also some time for some comedy goalkeeping from Jumbo. Just inside his own half and under pressure Ellis turned and laid the ball back for Jumbo to clear, only problem was Jumbo was busy watching the game on the other pitch and had no idea the ball was coming back to him, with their striker chasing it down. Cue a chorus of frantic cries from the whole team to alert him in time,which was successful, however he didn't realise it had been passed back to him by Ellis and consequently picked it up! Further cries this time of 'nooo' followed and left poor Jumbo looking around wondering what on earth was going on - brilliant! Fortunately their striker stepped up and smashed the free kick miles over.
Man of the match votes were spread around (which is always a sign of a good team performance) with Al, James and Ellis all picking up a couple but Dan Head winning it with 5. Next week we have a big game against an in-form Thames Borough although luckily for us the venue has changed to Hall Place in Bexley so we're not faced with the hike to Abbey Wood!
Man of the match: Dan Head