Saturday 3rd February 2007
By Paul Parsons
We lost 4-0.
That just about sums up the game really. Looking for excuses is no good, but with only 4 players starting in the same positions as our great performance last week, and now this week against a top of the table side known for their physical ability and goal scoring acumen it was difficult to see how we were going to get more than a point from this game.
Danny needed to make some enforced changes that meant the line up looked like this : - (
No really, the four players in the same positions were Chris Greenhough at right back, me at centre back, Geof Ray in goal and Richard Davies in centre midfield. Daragh Nott was pushed wide right, Peter Kirk was in the middle, Sam Evans was pushed upfront with Paul Burford. With players being drafted in at left back (Peter Morton), Jack Harding with me in the centre, Aaron Carpenter on right midfield duty. Also Danny had to name two subs that no-one had seen play before, so it was a real test for all concerned.
We started the game brightly and looked to get the ball wide, a good move on the right, started by Chris Greenhough, who was solid all game, provided Aaron some space to drive forward and pass accurately to Paul Burford in the middle. Paul unselfishly knocked down to Sam who hit a first time half volley into the top right corner, that the Crofton Albion keeper acrobatically managed to push on to his crossbar.
After 15 minutes of hard graft, we started to feel the pressure and allowed ourselves to be dictated to by the no nonsense defending of Crofton. Their game play was to soak up all the high balls at the back and blast it down the throats of the two attackers who were playing close together down the middle. We were unable to keep the ball ourselves and managed to treat the ball like the proverbial hot potato, giving sloppy possession away in the middle of the park and not shutting down the Crofton outlet at the back. Jack Harding was doing an excellent man to man marking job on the physically strong and powerful Crofton forward, but this left our full backs redundant as I was marking the other forward, and we did not capitalise on getting it out wide to Peter Morton or Chris Greenhough, nor the two wide midfielders.
Within 20 minutes Richard was struggling with calf trouble and things were switched around in midfield, however the balance was never regained and we were grateful to Geof being so quick off his line on three occasions to make great one on one saves. Picture
He also got a nasty knock from a corner that he bravely came out to meet, and this put paid to his normally long and accurate kicking ability. With just 5 minutes left in the half and still at 0-0, we were outsmarted at the back, and a delicious cross was zipped in and met first time from the onrushing midfielder to whack home with a first time volley. Three minutes later they burst through the offside trap after we lost possession in midfield and made it 2-0. Picture
At half time we realised if we could get one back we were in with a shout, however again we lost possession on the halfway line and were caught after only a couple of minutes into the half, 3-0 and heads went down (except Peter Kirk who was very combative all game) and there was no way back. Our substitutions were Matt Gardiner on for Richard, and he injected some pace and energy into the game, but never actually touched the ball for 35 minutes of play! Eija (pronounced A J) Watanabe had a debut upfront for Sam, and also looked lively, as did David Goenaga, another debut for the last 15 minutes of the game, on for Aaron at right midfield. Our only other chance was in the dying minutes when Paul Burford cracked one against the foot of the post, after good build up play from David and Peter Kirk.
Geof was deservedly MOM with an outstanding display of good blocks, excellent handling, tip overs that Ivor would be proud of, and when not injured, long and accurate kicking for most of the game.
We didn’t perform to our ability today, and let a very good Crofton team dictate the style of play, but as Danny said in the pre game build up and manager team talk, ‘the table means nothing lads, Crofton are on top and running away with this league, but it’s only points………’