Scorers: Carter, Earle, Carpenter, O’Leary(2)
A league fixture against our neighbours Vamps this week for the 4s. We drew the reverse fixture 2-2 in a game that we had dominated but failed to capitalise on the numerous chances created. Vamps had shown a strong spirit that day but had since gone on a poor run which now seems them in the relegation zone so we knew we weren’t in for a easy game.
The first 5 mins started out fairly even with both teams feeling each other out and trying to come to terms with the pitch. With the centre of the New River pitch having seen better days the plan was to get the ball out to O’Leary and Carter on the wings and look to get crosses into the box for Kenga and the advancing midfield. We did the first part extremely well, with the starting midfield trio of Carpenter, Earle and McMorran getting a foothold in the middle of the park, however we weren’t getting enough bodies into the box for the ensuing crosses and so despite looking dangerous we only created a couple of real chances which either the Vamps keeper did well to save or, from an O’Leary cross, Fox couldn’t force over the line. Vamps for their part were defending deep and looking to hit us on the counter however they too didn’t trouble Holder in goal. It was heading towards 0-0 at halftime when the Vamps winger went on a jinking run before being brought down on the edge of the box. The resulting freekick was dispatched into the bottom corner to give them a 1-0 lead at half time against the run of play.
After a slight tactical reshuffle and a rallying cry from Carpenter at half time we started the second half on the front foot and came close to equalising when a nice team move straight from kick off found half time sub Hodges receive the ball on the edge of the box, take on his defender but then see his angled shot go inches wide of the post. This set the tempo for the rest of the half and gave the whole team the belief that the game was there for the taking. After what seemed like 10 mins of the teams exchanging throw ins down in the far corner of the pitch we got the deserved equaliser when Kenga picked the ball up on the left from a cleared corner, nutmegged his defender, and sent a perfect cross to the front post which Carter turned in with a stooping header. We took the lead shortly afterwards when an O’Leary corner was headed down by Carpenter to Earle who controlled it on his thigh and volleyed it into the roof of the net. He then, in his own words, “went mental” with a textbook knee slide celebration. With the momentum firmly in our favour we made it 3-1 shortly after with Kenga cutting into the area and then either scuffing his shot or making a “deceptive” pass to Carpenter who took a touch a fired a left footed bullet into the top corner. With the game getting away from them Vamps started getting a bit more feisty as they looked to make it a bit more of a battle but we were up to the challenge with Carpenter and Earle in particular giving as good as they got. With about 15 to go we put the game to bed when McMorran, back on for Kenga, had a shot deflected which rolled across to the centre of the penalty box where O’Leary was the quickest to it and rolled it under the diving keeper. O’Leary then capped an outstanding performance with a couple of minutes left when he cut in from the right and curled a beauty into the opposite top corner which the keeper could only stand and admire.
A very satisfying win and a great team performance particularly in the second half where we never let our intensity drop. We have five games left and our aim as a team should be to take this performance and attitude into the remaining fixtures and take maximum points to finish the season with style.
Squad: Holder, McGlogan, Johnson, Fox, Gregory, Earle, McMorran, Carpenter, Carter, O’Leary, Kenga, Forbes, Hodges