Chequers suffered a first defeat of their pre-season campaign in a tough 1-0 loss to Croxley FC of Watford.
The starting XI again underwent changes from the previous match, with Chris Wills coming in at Right Back, Michael Ryan regaining his place on the right side of midfield and Gavin O'Brien joining Dean Hinton up front.
Croxley looked the brighter of the two sides in the opening minutes as Chequers struggled to get into their passing game. The successful central defensive partnership of Chris Fagan and captain-for-the-day Tom Tracy snuffed out any real threats, and Wills and Jon Onyon defended very well in the wide positions despite finding themselves overloaded on more than one occasion each. The wingbacks also showed for the ball very well when Roullier was in possession, which allowed Chequers to avoid going long to the strikers as often as they usually might. Croxley's first serious attempt on goal saw striker Rishi Doshi released in on goal on the Chequers' left, but his fierce shot clipped the outside of the post on it's way wide. Doshi was then involved again as he rose highest to meet a corner but his looping header grazed the top of the crossbar. In response, Chequers did at least manage a shot at goal but Alex Dell was off target from a long way out. Croxley then failed to test Roullier with two efforts off target from outside the box, but thought they had taken the lead when a corner was swung over to the far post and bundled over the line only for the referee to correctly rule the goal out for a foul on Chris Wills on the goalline and a strong suspicion of handball. O'Brien and Hinton worked hard up front and won the majority of the aerial battles, and Dell, Enzo Sgambati and Tom Smith put a very strong shift in in the middle of the park including some crunching tackles from Sgambati. In truth, Dell and Smith were being forced to work extremely hard defensively which did not allow them much opportunity to threaten at the other end. Chequers stumbled towards half time but eventually reached the break with the score still 0-0.
Tom Trigg replaced Roullier in goal and Mickey Francois came on for Michael Ryan for the start of the second half. Unfortunately it was not long before Croxley took the lead; Sgambati was robbed of possession just inside the Chequers half, and the Croxley midfielder took one more touch before striking a looping shot agonisingly through the fingertips of Trigg to make it 1-0 to the home side. Jamie and Ben were both introduced for their Chequers debuts as the Purples looked for a way back into the game, and Ben in particular had a number of decent runs which resulted in a couple of blocked shots and a corner. Chequers were still struggling for clear-cut chances though; only Tom Smith and substitute Michael Towler registered shots on target but both were comfortably saved. Croxley still looked a threat at the other end, and almost doubled their lead when a striker missed the top corner by inches. Croxley then were reduced to 10 men for the remaining minutes as they suffered an injury in midfield with no substitutes available. Michael Ryan, reintroduced on the right wing, had a couple of chances to take full advantage of the numerical advantage but shot tamely wide of the far post when a cut-back to the onrushing Smith looked the better option, and then appeared to go to ground too easily in the penalty area during the dying moments of the match.
Croxley held on fairly comfortable to beat Chequers for the fourth time in four meetings, but Chequers are capable of better quality than they showed on the day. Chequers would like to wish Croxley the very best of luck for the coming season, and look forward to playing them again soon.
Man of the Match went to Chris Fagan this week, after another solid performance in the sweeper role kept a good Croxley team at bay.