Sunday 6th October 2019
By Mark Harrington
Referee: Paul Parsons.
Squad: Gary Rosslee, Neil Pearce, Joe Champ, Jon Gasson (Capt), Mark Friend, Simon Davies, Dean Murphy, Alan Fines, Damien Preston, Paul Tanton, Robin Moody, Sean Blackwell, Matt Ellis, Matti Wright, Mark Harrington.
We had a very strong squad going into this game and so there was nothing to suggest we would not put in a top class performance. The overnight downpour had no effect on the pitch and an early visit by Matt Ellis and his fork ensured the game was never in doubt. Full video of the pitch and commentary at 9am on a Sunday was more than even Sky provide. Thanks Matt, we all very much appreciated the early confirmation especially, those coming from as far away as Chislehurst.
Pre-match mood was great and once the music requests had settled on a bit of Nat King Cole and his classic “Unforgettable” which had an ironic tone to it for those that watched the first half performances, conversation turned to a wide range of subjects including LGTBQ. I put an immediate stop to this sort of discussion as I cannot bear to watch anything with Simon Cowell in it. One other player flatly refused to “have this sort of stuff rammed down my throat” and once corrected on what this conversation was really about, I thought a change of music was in order and Neil Pearce followed up his first request with a bit of Huey Lewis and the News. Excellent I thought something to get the blood pumping “The Power of Love”. Both Neil and myself swapped stories on past karaoke performances and recreated great renditions in the changing room, we sang with pride. I was impressed about the commitment of the players as they all left for an early warm-up. A shame as they missed some vocal excellence that far exceeded anything on the pitch.
The warm-up again consisted of standing around and blasting balls at Gary and so we are now another two balls short. Investment in two match balls is required as two were lost and another two ended up as deflated as us by the end of the game. The punctures cannot have come from a player on our side as none were that sharp today.
The game started with our quickest goal since I have been at the club. 10 seconds in, Alan’s drive beat the opposition's stand-in keeper to put us 1-0 in front. Standing on the line Damo and myself thought this could ‘spur’ us on to greater heights but sadly it only produced a performance that mirrored the namesakes from North London. What happened after this was nothing short of abysmal as every man switched off. You could see it in the body language and it looked like each player was leaving the hard work to each other. It was not long before our oppo equalised from a through ball that was bent into the bottom right hand corner. Worse followed when a collision between Mark Friend and Gary presented the ball to the forward who scored from a tight angle despite the attempt by Jon Gasson to clear off the line. Whilst this didn’t look a great goal to concede, both players can be complimented in the bravery to dive into the tackle to block. A long range shot that bounced awkwardly in front of Gary increased our visitors' lead and we soon found ourselves 1-4 down with another goal “given” to our opponents.
Whilst we were three down in quick time, we could see that we had enough ability to claw the deficit back. There was plenty of time to recover the situation and Alan reduced the arrears before Si Davies smashed a shot against the post. From a defensive mistake Paul Tanton tapped in for 3-4 and our tails were up and the half-time break came too soon as far as we were concerned. Changes were made with Matti Wright coming on for Joe Champ, yours truly replacing Mark Friend and Robin Moody making way for Matt Ellis. The second half started very much like the end of the first with all the game being played in the oppo’s half. Chances came and went time and again but we only have ourselves to blame as simple decisions were not taken in favour of more glory attempts. A simple shot from Alan completed his hat-trick and put the game all square and with 30 minutes remaining we were confident that with MOM Si Davies running midfield, willing runners in Dean Murphy and Tant and with the defence ‘tightening up’ we would win the game. On the balance of play that should have happened but we missed chance after chance and somehow Lads of the Village survived. Matti Wright hit the bar, one on ones were not put away but in fairness to our visitors, they gave everything to hang on and would have been well pleased with a draw.
We had what we thought would be the final kick of the game with a corner and one final chance to win the game but the ball was cleared and there was enough time for Lads of the Village to raid forward and through various tackles the ball fell to their young substitute who bundled the ball past Gary. This was a game we should not have lost but we gave away 4 goals and missed too many attempts ourselves so can we blame anyone but ourselves for the loss? On a positive note, we can admire the resolve to get the game back from 3 goals down and to ‘switch back on’ after 15 minutes of madness but we must learn to pass when others are in a better position. For the avoidance of doubt, this is aimed at the whole team and no one person.
So the mood was sombre in the changing room as none of us could believe we had not won the game let alone have lost it but past results against Lads of the Village have always been strange affairs with lots of goals where defence is not an art form. If you want to see goals, come and watch the Young Vets, especially if you like comedy. The music choice was a bit of 80’s soul post match and as much as Shalamar was blasted out, we could not “make it a night to remember” as our bar was closed so it was off to the Woody for some soul searching.
A bit of housekeeping, so with no volunteers for the kit we shall now need to do a rota. I don’t like to force people to do things, Mrs H might disagree, but if no one is going to come forward then this task cannot be added to the managers' list of things to do and will need to be shared out. So from next week we shall go alphabetical on a rota…sorry Alan you are up first! Also, if your shot in the warm up does not go in or saved and ends up behind the goal, please can you go and recover the ball from the A21. We cannot afford to keep splashing out on new equipment.
Football always gives you the chance to make amends and so we travel to Old Colfs next week. No excuse, a fine playing surface awaits where we have traditionally played well. Better music requests next week please.
A good week all.
Man of the match: Simon Davies