Saturday 19th March 2011
By Colin Brazier
Back to the homely comforts of Farrow Fields, a superb pitch on a lovely sunny spring day with the birds singing in the trees, Des away celebrating his 69th birthday and Ivor absent (no I don’t think they were together)…what could possibly go wrong? Usually that would be the preamble to a crushing defeat but on this occasion not much did go awry as we got our first home point of the season against fellow tail-enders Croydon Crusaders.
The interim management team comprised Barnes, Allen, Brazier and Blanchard (BABB). If only Lipscomb and Elliott had been included on the end! We had a healthy squad of 15 with a seemingly unending supply of youth from – I presume – Orpington Rovers coming through to supplement our ranks and get their first taste of adult football. Ivor had been called away at late notice to sort out some Portaloos at work so Steve Blanchard junior brought along his mate Jason, who hadn’t played for 18 months following injury and work commitments. Jez tried to calm any nerves by showing him the x-ray of his Famous Finger, but I’m not sure that was a wholly sound idea. Incredibly, Jason became our SEVENTH keeper this season. Can you get the other six? Answers at the end of this report. Back on the subject of injury, it was fantastic to see Mantas Gaiglas back from his broken leg.
The committee sorry management settled on the following team…
Jason Payne – GK
Steve Blanchard jnr - RB
Steve Blanchard snr – CB
Neil Barnes – CB (capt.)
Colin Brazier – LB
Luke Allen – RM
Rob Lipscomb – CM
Tom Smart– CM
Tommy Noad – LM
James Foyle – CF
Connor Barclay – CF
Subs: Mantas Gaiglas, Dan Giles, Mark Johnson, Rhyse Elliott
This was our third game against Croydon this season, the previous two both having been close encounters, and there was no reason to expect this one to be any different. We started the match brightly in tune with the weather, and took the lead after only five or so minutes when Tom Smart threaded a ball through the middle for Tommy Noad, whose shot rebounded into Connor’s path for an easy finish. Well, no finish is easy (eh Luke?) but you get my drift. It was Connor’s 3rd goal in as many games which goes to show that if you are enduring a lean spell, just keep on doing the right things and the goals will come eventually.
Buoyed by this early goal we continued to attack and were dominant in midfield, and James and Connor continued to put Croydon’s defence under pressure. Tom Smart put over a couple of well-flighted free kicks which nearly brought goals and the visitors were reduced to bypassing the centre and testing our back four with long clearances, which didn’t really suit their forwards. Jason, while having comparatively little to do, commanded his area well. Slowly however, Croydon settled and grew in confidence as they realised they were still in the game. The match became much more evenly contested and the half ended without further scares for either side.
In the second half Croydon slowly got on top territorially as they sought an equaliser. They didn’t create many clear cut chances but had one or two penalty shouts that might have gone their way. The Guild were always a threat at the other end though with Luke and Tommy supporting the forwards whenever possible, with Tom and Rob holding the centre. Then about midway through the half a well worked move down the left between Colin and Tommy resulted in Colin’s deep cross dropping eight yards out from goal at the unmarked Luke’s feet. All I could think of when I saw him shoot wide was that we didn’t put the brakes on the wheeled goal and it had rolled back a couple of yards! Luke mate, as an ex-striker myself I share your pain, but the important thing is that you were there to miss it! Keep getting in those positions, we need to help out the forwards in the goals column.
We used the permitted three of our substitutes, with the unlucky Rhyse the one to miss out. Croydon also switched their personnel, in fact I can’t remember a team making so many tactical and positional changes in such a short space of time. Every time I looked up I was marking a different player…perhaps they were queuing up, I’m not sure!
In amongst all this Rob had a low drive well saved by the visitors’ keeper, but it was Croydon who got the all-important second goal of the game when our line was broken by their main striker who finished well giving Jason no chance. Having led for 80 minutes this was a real sickener; we tried to pick ourselves up to snatch a winner but it was not to be.
However experienced you are, the agony of conceding late game-changing goals never fades (hence my “advice” to Connor to stay onside!) but looking at the big picture it was another good day for us. It has been a really enjoyable season, and it is enormously satisfying to see young players eradicating the mistakes they may have made in previous matches and the team progressing as a result.
Man of the match was Tom Smart for another excellent midfield display, though he almost lost my vote for deciding to take a drink on the halfway line when we were defending a corner!
Finally, some thanks…
It was good to see our loyal band of supporters and walking wounded out in force again.
The game was played in tremendous spirit and well refereed by Elliott Hooper whose first game in charge it was apparently. We wish him well.
Many thanks to Keith and Bunny Beston for getting the pitch in such good condition following an awful winter. That reminds me, it’s back to Flamingo Park this week. Oh well…
What? Oh yes, those keepers! Jez was the incumbent until his hamstring pinged, when Todd completed the match in goal. Neil (probably the one you didn’t get? Unless you are Neil of course) filled in the following week and then Ivor took over for a few games before Jez came back. When Jez got his finger injury, Mark Edwards took over for the rest of the Mottingham match. Jim St John played the following week until Ivor came back, and then Jason completed the Magnificent Seven today! I had no idea there were so many absolutely barking mad people around.
Man of the match: Tom Smart