|1||Tim Robinson (7)|
|2||Ricky Goldup (7)|
|3||Ed Shorter (7)|
|4||Pete Rundle (7)|
|5||Michael Cherry (8)|
|6||Nick Clarke (5)|
|7||Marcus Passey (7)|
|8||Paul Chewter (6)|
|9||Steve Fuller (7)|
|10||Ben Large (6)|
|11||Chris Williment (7)|
|12||Seb Smith (6)|
|13||Jak Cook (6)|
|Hildenborough AFC Res||2|
After three successive defeats in the league we were desperate to make amends in this home game against Chipstead, who are an inconsistent team who have managed an impressive goal tally at one end but also a high conceding rate at the other would suggest that we would need to perform well at both ends in order to take all three points on offer.
The visitors kicked off the game with us attacking up the hill, and the game got into a good momentum early on as both teams looked to take control. But we were looking a much-improved side in all positions to the last few weeks. The back line of Nick, Pete, Ed and Ricky were able to handle the majority of the visitors attacks with comfort and their only threat early on came from the corners they were earning. Nick was having a very impressive game at right back and broke up the attacks well and used the ball intelligently to feed the midfield well. As a result Passey was getting down the right flank well and we were finding routes into the box quite regularly, with Cherry making an early surge into the box but being unable to convert under pressure from the Chipstead defence.
Chris Williment was also finding plenty of space and made a number of runs in off the left hand side to get a shot in from a central position that he was unlucky to see drift over the bar.
It didn’t take long though before we took the lead and Ben timed his run perfectly to latch onto a through ball following some great football that has been eluding use for some time, and with the visiting ‘keeper making himself big (bigger than he was already!) Ben calmly slotted the ball past him to give us the advantage and to put him level with Sean as our top goal scorer this season.
With Cherry, Chewy and Steve regularly linking up well in build up play we should have given ourselves a comfortable lead that our first half performance merited but luck was not on our side as further attempts from Cherry and Chris were not making the target with the goal keeper well beaten by our play, and at the other end we had Tim to thank as he palmed away a cross-cum-shot and was first to the loose ball in the 6 yard box in order to maintain our slender one goal lead at half time.
If we are to take the points we needed to maintain the work rate and performance for the second half but be a bit more clinical with our finishing.
As the second half started it was clear Chipstead were looking to bring themselves back into the game. They quickly disrupted the flow of our football and we didn’t really have an answer to it as we resorted back to the lazy football we have been doing in the last few weeks that has seen us drop so many points. Inevitably it invited trouble, and although the defence was still standing strong Chipstead were increasing the pressure. The way things were going it was only a matter of time before Chipstead scored, but the manor in which they did it was extremely frustrating as a poor hopeful hit over the defence looked to be comfortably caught by Tim who was commanding his area well, but with the ball in Tim’s hands the Chipstead forward failed to halt his run and bundled Tim over the line, but with players obstructing the referees view of the foul, the goal was given.
This drew a bit more life out of us as we started to see the urgency in playing neat football, and after a series of corners Steve found himself with the ball just out side of the area and unleashed the shot, unfortunately for Steve his shot could not find its way through the crowded box but the ball feel for Cherry who made amends for his earlier misses to restore our lead. We made our two changes in order to step up the game with Seb making his long awaited return from injury replacing Chewy and promising youngster Jak replacing Passey, but before they could find their momentum in the game we took a double blow, both involving Nick, the first happened as Chipstead’s skilful play maker had his back to goal just inside the box on the right hand side, with Nick standing his ground and not letting him play the ball, the Chipstead player tried to turn and received a tug on his arm from Nick as he tried to get a yards space, and with the referee close to the action he didn’t hesitate to blow for the penalty which Tim was unable to keep out.
Not long after Chipstead had a goal kick and as the ball dropped into the middle a tussle between Nick and Chipsteads young midfielder lead to a stray elbow striking the visitor in the throat, as he lay gasping for air the referee took Nicks details and raised the red card reducing us to ten men.
This made it hard to get on top of the game but we still pressured Chipstead and a number of players were pushing the boundaries of their fitness in order to stay in the game, and with Jak causing mayhem down the right hand side we may well have found a winner with a bit more composure. With the game drawing to a wary end Chipstead were trying to use the extra man to attack on the counter and it took a very good save from Tim to tip a long range effort over the bar to prevent Chipstead snatching all three points late on.
In the end we had to settle for a disappointing point to continue our winless streak. Man of the match was awarded to a fully deserving Cherry after an all action game with plenty of hard work put in.
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