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Chiddingfold 0   Hersham FC 6 (Friendly)

 

11th September 2005

 

‘Come on Chiddingfold, you’ve got them on the run! …’

Ben Baker (we were 6-0 down)

 

In spite of the heavy scoreline, actually a hugely encouraging first game of the season. The boys were 6-0 down at half-time – 5-0 after 25 minutes – so they managed to completely turn the game around and control long periods of the second half, to the extent that Ben was actually quite right!

We had decided to play five across the middle, with Scott the lone striker, so as to hold the play up in midfield and take the pressure off the back line. However it was a mistake to try this against a very good team like Hersham, certain to be Premiership contenders this season and at least two weeks ahead of us in fitness.

We started brightly enough, with Tom putting a good cross in early from the right, but after only five minutes Hersham went a goal up, slightly luckily, when the ball cannoned off one post and settled just inside the other. Mike in goal carried on where he left off last season, coming out bravely at the feet of the opposition, and an absolutely superb through ball from Man of the Match Jamie G, set Scott and Will off, only to be closed down by the Hersham keeper at the last moment.

Then on ten minutes we went another goal down, when Hersham sprang our offside trap, and not long after that a truly terrible series of non tackles gifted them a third. In spite of this Scott was continuing the cracking form he showed in Germany, always looking dangerous, and both Jamie and Mike were in brilliant form.

It obviously wasn’t working at the back though, and the coaches started to get seriously worried after defensive mistakes made it 4-0 and then 5-0 following a terrific long shot from the edge of our area, after only around 25 minutes.

Reluctantly we abandoned our five-man midfield experiment for another time, and at coach Lionel’s eminently sensible suggestion (Ed. so early in the season,,,, let's hope he hasn't peaked to soon!), switched Theo from midfield back to sweeper. This gave the back line some much needed speed and composure and from then on the boys really began to sort themselves out. They began to play as they had in Germany and Hersham soon became frustrated.

Mike was still performing heroically in goal – his next effort a superb one-on-one save - and up front some great pressure from Jamie and Tom put Scott through to put the ball unluckily just wide. 

At this point Anthony M made his league début for the team. The moment he stepped onto the pitch he was clattered from behind (‘Welcome to league football!’ muttered Lionel on the touchline) but from then on never looked back. He tackled strongly, passed well, didn’t try to do anything complicated and generally looked as though he’d been playing for the team for years.

Just before half-time Hersham did manage to get their final goal against the run of play, after we had given away possession in midfield, but the last twenty minutes of the half belonged to Chiddingfold, and Hersham were not to score again.

There really wasn’t much to say at half-time. The coaches were terribly impressed by the way the boys had pulled themselves together and individually solved their own problems, so they just had to go out there and continue playing in the same way.

And in the second half that’s exactly what they did. Mike continued to stand out in goal, Josh and Daryl were virtually impassable down the flanks, Theo, Jon and Kirk worked like clockwork at the back, and Jamie, Hassie, Will and Tom or Steve in midfield closed down quickly and supported Scott up front as soon as there was a sniff of a goal. They worked, they ran, they tried things, they supported each other, no-one whinged – brilliant.

Hersham didn’t like it one bit and began arguing amongst themselves. All their best players were on the pitch, straining to regain control of the game, but we were right back to the team which got a point from them last season and there was no way back for them.

Steve has noticeably taken a huge step forward since last season. Beckham-like he sprayed a succession of long, devastatingly accurate passes into the opposition half and in the last five minutes he put across a wonderful corner which caused panic in the Hersham defence. The resultant goalmouth scramble left ‘Dazza’ in space and he launched himself into a spectacular mid-air volley which agonisingly hit the bar; it would have been a front runner for Goal of the Season.

Right at the death the chaps were putting Hersham under pressure, with Steve sending yet another sizzling cross deep into the penalty box just as the whistle blew. Overrall an excellent workout, with great, great team spirit. We’ve a feeling it’s going to be a season to remember.