Saturday 19th September 2015
Kent Intermediate Challenge Shield
By Luke Johnson
A long drive, another quality display, a lovely new kit and a broken hand.
First round of the Kent Intermediate Challenge Shield saw us drawn away to Premier Division opponents. They played so far away. Honestly, it was in Leeds. Leeds ain't in Kent. Having started the season strongly their status in the division above didn't mean too much to us.
I was banging on all week about being on time, "it's a long journey", "leave enough time" etc etc. Obviously I was the last to the meet, largely down to Ellis trying to navigate, more useless than a woman at map reading!
Actually we weren't last, that honour goes to Steve McQueen, who is always late.
After two good results and with a squad of 16, Ellis and I decided to ring a few changes, to give lads a fair crack at nailing down the starting spots. It's taken 12 months to get a squad like this together and I honestly don't think I've been part of a more talented team since Raglan Under 7's.
It took us a couple of minutes to settle into the game, the oppo were closing us down quickly and our passing was a little sloppy. At the back we were comfortable from the very start, which gave us confidence to push them onto the back foot. Aaron and Lee up top were running their defence ragged, as a centre half I can honestly say I'd hate to play against the pair of them! Our first goal arrived after about 15 minutes. Some would call it route one, but knowing Gibbo as we all do, it wasn't a punt, but an 80 yard pass. Lee Friend ran onto it and calmly lobbed their keeper. 1 nil.
After sitting on the sidelines for a couple of games, I had my own chance to nail down a starting berth as Ray and Ren were away. Knowing I had to impress the manager, I saw an opportunity to put a big, fair, tackle in on their forward. I took the ball, bit of the man, and as he landed he planted his foot squarely on my left hand. This meant I played the next 70 minutes with a broken hand, and ran around holding it like a right iron. I must have looked ridiculous.
We had a lot of the ball and a few chances to double the lead, but went in 1-0 up at HT.
Second half was much of the same, us causing a lot of problems and being very comfortable at the back. However we couldn't double our lead and paid for it midway through the half. Tommy S, making his first start of the season, put a great challenge in on the edge of our box, only for the ref to conjure up a free kick. I can only think Tommy took too much of the ball?
A few people lost their men and they scrambled a poor equaliser. After looking so assured at the back, we turned off for 20 seconds and got punished! Do your jobs at free kicks and corners gents, basically listen to me and Gibbo and you won't cost us goals! Talking of Gibbo, the only times we were beaten at the back, he was there to pull out 2 excellent saves. Definitely the best keeper in the KCL.
We got back in front again after some great work from Aaron and Scott down the left. Aaron flicked a great pass into Lee Friend, who rifled one home from 25 yards, class.
The remainder of the game we controlled. A few chances went begging, this culminated in our third. Aaron sliding a ball into their box, and then someone pressed the pause button on the oppo's controller. 5 of them just stood there, staring at the ball til it was too late. It was really strange. Luke F walked into the box, took a touch and slotted it home. 3-1, game over!
Only down point of the game was not being able to get 2 of our subs on. We thought it was roll on roll off, but apparently for us it wasn't. The other side seemed to make about 8 subs, but we were only allowed 3. Apologies to Dave and Steve, we genuinely didn't know.
Big thanks to the 4 supporters, including Colin who came down to take a few pics. Anyone who watches us throughout the season will be invited to our presentation evening in Marbella next June.
Plus points were numerous; the team performance as a whole was brilliant and the new kit is lovely (even if the shorts are not short, but huge). We also finished the game with 11 players today. Haven't done that this season, so that was nice. Skipper for the day Al Barnes did his best to get sent off, but just got a yellow. That yellow was because a bloke kicked him, really strange. Their number 17 was a really angry man, very odd. Kept trying to kick and punch people, but wasn't accurate enough. Also cried if anyone attempted to tackle him. Think he might have gone a while without a bunk up.
Turns out Steve McQueen is a horrible person, his own dad disowned him and adopted me today. Ellis told a terrible, factually incorrect, joke. Lee Friend shot off quick to steal a few dogs from the kennels next door. And Kobi had his loudhailer again.
Team: Lee Gibbs; Dan Hinton, Tom Rush, Luke Johnson, Tommy Sullivan; Scott Wason, Kobi Johnson, Al Barnes (c), Lamar Myers; Lee Friend, Aaron Evans.
Subs: Joe Slater, Dan Rose, Luke Foulsham, Dave Martin, Steve McQueen
Man of the match: Lee Friend