7 new faces in the 13 man squad for our second (proper) pre-season friendly gave a sense of déjà vu to last seasons constantly changing 5th team. As it is pre-season and a lot of players are new to the club I’m hopeful it’ll settle down before the season starts.
Sergio Garcia made his AP debut in between the sticks and having 4 defenders this week meant we were able to adopt a 4-4-2 formation. Dudmish and Taylor started as the full backs with Graham and Kralik in the middle. Dan Wilding dropped down from the 3s and started in centre mid with James Rae, another dropping down from the 3s, Stephen Payne started on the left and Evon Foster started on the right. Last week’s starting strike partnership of Pete Croft and Craig Dawkins started up front. Wayne Rose and Alek Lewin were on the bench.
Having won the toss we decided to shoot down hill first half and it nearly paid off in the opening moments when we created a great chance which Wilding (I think) hit just wide. Winchmore though took the lead when Garcia seemed to lose the flight of a cross and could only turn it into his own net. This buoyed the much more experienced Hill team and they began to take a firm grip on the game. They went 2-0 up not long after when a sweeping counter attack put the right winger through on goal; he applied a delicate chip over the on rushing keeper and it looked like we could be facing a real pasting.
If we are to take positives from this game we have to look at the way we went forward, Wilding and Foster creating the best chances for Dawkins and Croft. The closest we came to scoring in the first half was when Foster crossed for Dawkins who volleyed against the outside of the upright. On the half hour mark Lewin replaced Payne on the left. Winchmore took a 3 goal lead into the break when some more poor defending left the right back free to fire into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.
It appears that most people playing for the 5s this season want to play in centre mid or usher the immortal words “I’m a striker”, to give everyone a chance in their preferred position we had to do a lot of shuffling around, thanks to those who were patient whilst I tried to work out the permutations of the substitutions! Rose came on the left and Dudnesh dropped to the bench with Rae coming into centre back and Lewin given a run out in centre mid.
Winchmore had had a reshuffle too – deciding to put their tall striker who had won everything first half at centre back. This did mean that he could still come up for corners though and he was involved when a melee in our box led to the easiest of goals to make it 4-0. Winchmore. apart from being experienced, were a very physical team and they began to boss the midfield. When we did create a chance a robust challenge on Dawkins left the striker with a bloody lip and he had to go off leading to another reshuffle. This time Lewin went up front, Foster came into the middle and Payne came on on the right. This coincided with our best period of play. Foster and Wilding forging an understanding almost immediately and whilst they couldn’t match Winchmore for physicality they outplayed them.
It was in this spell that Kralik and Rose linked up well on the left , Rose took the ball to the edge of the box and fired in a wonder strike which left most stunned and Crofty crying out something about Pele. You have to admire the enthusiasm at 4-1 down. One all in the second half would have been heartening but Winchmore made it 5 when a strike hit stand in skipper Taylor, diverting the ball into the opposite corner to the despairing Garcia.
Team: Garcia, Taylor (C), Graham, Kralik, Dudmish, Payne, Rae, Wilding, Foster, Croft, Dawkins subs; Rose, Lewin.