A much improved display from last week saw the 4th XI held to 1-1 draw by Southgate Olympic, in a game we should have won. The afternoon got off to a bad start when we realised we only had 10 players, but thankfully Archie and Adam’s mate, Callum Hosier, had come along to watch and was drafted in to make up the XI.
We welcomed back the ‘Beast from the East’, Uli Kanyebekov to central defence and he partnered McGlogan, with Guenzi and Mason completing the back four. Scott Tear came into central midfield as we lined up in a 4-5-1 with Pitfield up front.
After a brief warm up on a pitch that made Donkey Lane look like White Hart Lane, the game was underway and we soon imposed ourselves on Southgate. We were moving the ball quickly from defence to attack, making good use of the full backs and causing real problems, the combination of Pitfield, Hosier and Tripp in particular giving the oppo back line a real headache.
Despite all the pressure, we were unable to make the breakthrough and there were a number of chances missed that’ll need to be put away in the league. Against the run of play (and the offside rule) Southgate took the lead when their midfielder picked out their forward who, despite being 10 yards ahead of our backline, was allowed to run through and finish past Wilkinson.
We were still very much on top, so continued to press and were rewarded with a penalty just before half time, which was unfortunately missed. We went in at the break confident that we could get back in the game and as the second half kicked off, we stuck to the plan, making progress up the wings, which led to chances for Tripp and Tear. Unfortunately their keeper was having a blinder and caught or parried everything.
Southgate’s midfield started to gain some control and we were on the back foot for a short period, with Uli and McGlogan repelling everything in the air, and Mason and Guenzi diligently tracking their tricky wingers. As the game approached the last ten minutes, we knew we had to get the goal we deserved, so a tactical shuffle saw us go to three at the back and push forward. Minutes before full time, a threaded through ball saw Tripp run on and dink the ball over the advancing keeper with great composure, despite having someone screaming in his ear for him to square it…..
We really should have battered this lot because we had a load of chances, but all in all it was encouraging as we stuck to the task and forced a reward. Excellent debuts for Mason and Tear, and Battams continued the good work after his debut against Old Owens. It all looks promising and I’m certain we can finish pre-season with a win on Saturday.
Team: Wilkinson, Guenzi, Mason, Kanyebekov, McGlogan, Tripp, Pitfield, Reynolds, Tear, Hosier, Battams.