Scorers: Brade(3), Eastwood, Coughlan
A rearranged home fixture at Easthamians sumptuous ground, which to be fair was probably no better than our pitches. The centre stretch resembled something between the Somme and Passchendale as did one of the goal areas. The flanks although grassy were more uneven than my road, and that is saying something. Nevertheless we were just keen to pull on the orange and black and get a game of football.
After a change of keeper we started with Tobias in goal and a back four of Fevzi, Will, Gary and Ziggy. Midfield of Jermaine, Aso, Adam and Ashley. Dan fitted in the hole while Kurt started up front. Liam and Andy were on the bench.
We started reasonably well with Adam and Aso shading the midfield battle early on. As expected Jermaine and Ash on the flanks were proving a handful with some good back up from Fevzi and Ziggy. Easthamians also started with plenty of grit and endeavour although they lacked quality on the final ball to get past us and Tobias was quick to pick up anything long. The pitch was obviously making it hard to play anything too expansive in midfield as the ball continually ground to a halt in the slop. Our best moves came down the flanks with Jermaine whipping in a couple of inviting crosses. I think the first chance fell to Fevzi who fired in a low shot only for Ash to block it on the line in the crowded area. Hamians managed to clear in the ensuing scramble. Finally we took the lead when Jermaine turned on the afterburners to race clear into the corner of the area and fired in a lovely low shot with the outside of his foot. At this point we deserved to be in front but Hamians were putting in a shift and making it difficult. They created a couple of half chances although Tobias was never really threatened. The remainder of the half was a bit of a struggle with us not really doing ourselves any favours with some indifferent passing and too much passive play instead of forcing the game onto the oppo who were there for the taking but only if we upped our game. We had another chance when a fierce shot from the edge of the area ground to halt in the mire literally on the goaline, needless to say they managed to clear their lines.
A bit of a talking to at half time and Andy came on for Will and would be followed by Liam for Aso. The next goal was now crucial and fortunately we started the half well and forced a second after some good work by the skips. Having battered his way into the area the ball broke loose and Ash was there to poke the ball home. We really began to dominate now with Adam prompting the play with help from Dan and Aso. A third from Ash soon followed and Hamians were beaten, it was just a case of how many. The introduction of Liam gave new impetus down the left and he caused them allsorts of problems with his work rate. The fourth came when Ash burst down the centre outstripped their defenders and fired a rocket in from the edge of the area. Hamians battled on and forced us back on occasions with out really troubling us. Gary was imperious and was obviously revelling in the physical battle either that or he just enjoyed throwing himself in the mud. The fifth was a bit of a collector’s item….a Faberge egg, a Chippendale chair, well you get the idea. Liam picked up the ball and drove at the heart of their defence, he skipped past one, no two tackles, the ball seemingly stuck to his boot. The next challenges saw Liam bounce off the defenders while the ball was pinballed around several sets of legs, but he somehow emerged with the ball and smuggled a shot past their keeper. It was definitely one of those I was there moments and well deserved for someone who puts in the effort that Liam does. Hamians sneaked a goal late on after a wayward pass left Tobias stranded. Apart from this moment we pretty much controlled the second half.
A well deserved if hard earned win which just about keeps us on the coat tails of those above. The conditions did make it tricky but we still have plenty to improve on. We still have phases where we are too impassive and merely watch and wait to see what happens rather than trying to influence the play, and this goes all the way from back to front. Half hearted attempts at tackles or at closing down the oppo really really frustrate when watching from the sideline, mainly because you do not have to be a brilliant footballer you just have to want it more than anyone else. Passing of the ball still needs to be quicker and crisper. I have said it before and will no doubt be saying it again and again, but you slow the ball down you give the oppo a chance to close you down and win the ball. The flip side is that if you do not help the guy with the ball then he is going to struggle to pass the ball. Finally on a general defensive note the decision making needs to be better. The choice of when to tackle, track a player or merely keep the position to anticipate the next move needs to be more consistent. It is the random moments of getting sucked in or not being aware of what is happening around you that mean we get punished more at this level than we did last year.
As a team it was a good performance with Aso and Adam leading by example with able assistance from Dan. Jermaine and Ash were terrorising their defence at every opportunity, although remember you can pass it if you want. Defensively we were pretty solid with Gary, Will and Andy matching Hamians physicality. Tobias in goal was largely untroubled but nevertheless made it look comfortable when needed. Livewire Liam was the perfect influence when he came on to add some extra urgency into the play. Ziggy and Fevzi looked solid both in defence and offence. Oh and Kurt played quite well.