After a week off, the first team returned to action down at Carshalton and looked to build on a solid start to the season. The oppo had not registered a point in their opening fixtures but as the saying goes, there are no easy games in the Southern Amateur League Senior Section Division 2. Possibly.
The sun was out, the pitch was lovely and I had done a quite fantastic stand in job laundering the kit. However, from a skipper’s perspective, there is always something to worry about. At home, this is inevitably putting the goals up, away this is the arrival time of the squad. A postcode South of the river is the equivalent of asking the lads to meet in Borneo. The sight of a sweating Kieran O’Leary running full tilt toward the dressing rooms with his kit bag 20 minutes before kick off was a disturbing image for anyone in Beddington Park on Saturday, let alone a side ‘switching on’ for the game ahead.
The game started off in somewhat scrappy fashion. We had a bit of success being slightly more direct in our previous outing, however our early distribution took that to extremes (see aimless punt). We were looking dangerous from set plays though, hitting good, on the cusp of great areas. An inswinging O’Leary delivery was deftly flicked on by Kelly and it was taken in with a mix of bar and defender. The dubious goals committee subsequently ruled unanimously in favour with an outcome that would result in a hat-trick jug. Matt’s goal.
The goal settled us a little bit and we began to complete 4 or 5 passes, being the extravagant team we are, some were even consecutive. We went 2 goals to the good, Sam played Matt in behind and with the keeper rooted to his line he calmly slotted home.
I don’t know what the exact definition of a ‘silly’ free kick is, I just shout it every time we give one away in our own half. Regardless, we have given shedloads away this season and it has cost us on a couple of occasions. Carshalton hadn’t created very much from open play but their set pieces were decent. We gave them one 25 yards from goal and all credit, a really nice up and down beat Stuart to make it 2-1.
We battled back and re-established our 2 goal lead. Some nice work from Andy Brown down the right, culminated in Mcveigh run and cut back and Kelly was on hand to tap home. The best goal of the day for us.
Half time and with a decent cushion, the message was to calm down a touch and keep the ball better. This task (in theory) was made all the easier when the oppo were reduced to 10 with an hour gone. Most people within the club have wanted to boot Egan at some point or another, I for one have only been stopped by the potential for Brut burns with any part of exposed skin. The oppo winger lived the dream, granted it was just a petulant kick but as he was on a booking the ref had no choice.
You would think this would settle the side and give ample opportunity to keep the ball and kill the game. If anything we became more nervous, avoiding possession at all costs. That said, we had a few chances to finish it, but it just wouldn’t go in for us. The oppo had a penalty shout turned down, to the utter disbelief of their player. When encouraged to get on with the game by a teammate, his philosophical reply was ‘what’s the point’. This did make me chuckle. This was as exciting as it got in the last 10 and we closed the game out.
Overall, not one for the neutrals and we made a lot harder work of it than we needed to. Despite this, another 3 points away from home chalked up. We have made a habit of grinding out results regardless of the performance and I am certainly not complaining. Whilst a good start for the first team, we haven’t really hit top gear yet. There will be sterner tests to follow but we certainly have it in us to go up a couple of levels. Onwards and upwards, with a bit of work in training who knows what we can do this season.
MOM : Ricky Shaw dominated in the middle of the park, Matt Kelly got a hat-trick. I am going to cop out and split it between them.
AP : Pennycook, Gunyon, Patterson, Egan (Osei-Bonsu), Thrale (Carlin), McVeigh, Shaw, Brown (Nicholau), Kelly, K. O’Leary, Webb.