report by Justin Edwards

Half time: 0-0

Full time: 0-3

Goals: Whyatt x2 Hargrove

For our first away game this year, a mixture of 4As and 5As players, together with a guest from our 5s, made the short journey past the A10 and along the North Circular into the Eastern and most hospitable lands of Old Loughts. The weather didn’t disappoint either and we were met with beautiful blue skies for the duration of the game.

A tight first half saw Old Loughts with the better of the chances but with solid defensive work from Alex Hyer, James Findlay, Jez Lavy, and Ollie Costelloe, under the direction of James Ruston at sweeper and with myself behind in goal, we kept the shots out and didn’t concede. 0-0 at halftime and, at the half time talk, we all recognised that we weren’t using the width and pace we had on offer down the flanks, together with trying to force it too much on occasion and importantly losing some cohesion between midfield and defence at times, the latter which gave OLs the lions’ share of their chances.

The second half saw us hit our straps, though. Will and Laurence gave us control in midfield, Wayne Garner produced some inspired attacking play down the left channel and Raj Saha was typically industrious at R midfield, always on the move, drawing the defence and giving options. Randall Hyer added to our dominance in midfield, switching between right and left and doing some very solid defensive work. The second half saw our R and L backs come into their own, with Ollie and Alex driving the game forward as attacking wing backs. It was from one of these attacks, where Ollie drove the play from L back, linked well with both Wayne and Cameron Clayton-Smith, who also had some lovely touches throughout the course of the game, and, as the ball was returned to him, drove into the D to win a short corner. From the corner, Will, whose linking play in midfield was excellent throughout, flicked the ball toward the R of the post; it was just going wide when Lawrence pounced and deflected the ball in. 1-0 up!

The second goal followed a lovely flowing move. Worked from the back: Alex, who was tireless throughout the game, to Will to Raj, giving then a fine pass to Sajiv on the right wing, who then drove the ball to the baseline. With a superb bit of vision, Sajiv picked out our 2 men waiting for the cross D pass: Alistair Whately, at centre forward, deftly dummied his shot to allow Laurence, at the L post, an uncontested shot at goal and the ball was duly deposited into the bottom L corner! 2-0

The third goal was just a lovely strike. Again more first class defensive build up with Jez and James Findlay making a number of timely turnovers, enabled us to break and find Will at the top of their D. It was a lovely thing to watch from our goal – the ball sailed into the top R corner; absolutely nothing their keeper, who produced a number of fine saves throughout the game, could do about that. 3-0 up.

Old Loughts came back at us after that and, despite some solid defence, especially from James Rushton, who gave a masterclass in sweeper play, the pressure told and we went though a period where we conceded 4 or 5 short corners. We kept them all out and the closest they came resulted in some superb reflex play: from one corner they produced a good strike, going into the bottom right to which I managed to get a stick to, deflecting the ball towards James Rushton on the R post, who then, in a fraction of a second, managed to get a further stick on the ball and send it wide for a long. Amazing stuff and with it a clean sheet!

Just a superb game to be part of and hugely enjoyed by all. Onwards to the return game!