Chequers crashed out of a cup at the first-round stage for the second week running, as a home defeat by Go Bowling in the Jack Jones Cup meant they'd again failed to overcome opponents from a higher division.
A wrist injury to regular 'keeper John Roullier saw Tom Trigg continue to deputise between the sticks, and yet another back 4 was cobbled together as injuries and lack of availability mounted up. Michael Towler slotted in at left back, with Enzo Sgambati and Tom Tracy in central defence and Chris Fagan occupying the right back role. Tim Warne and Michael Ryan manned the wings either side of captain Wayne Mardel and Tom Smith, with Mickey Francois again linking up with Dean Hinton in attack.
Despite the poor weather over the weekend, the game kicked off in warm sunshine as Chequers proved more than a match for their Division 3 opponents in the opening stages. Hinton had a glorious chance to break the deadlock, but his powerful effort from 8 yards blazed over the bar. Go Bowling countered and forced a free kick on the edge of the area, and almost caught Trigg out with a quick set piece that the 'keeper managed to stop. At the other end the home side then missed their second clear chance of the game, as Smith broke into the penalty area and seemed poised to score until a last-ditch tackle robbed him of a shot. Chequers' next opportunity saw Ryan hit a powerful shot from 20 yards which was deflected wide, and shortly before half time they would once again be punished for missing their chances. An inoccuous long ball caught out the defence as Fagan had dropped deeper than the rest of the back 4, allowing an onside Go Bowling striker to stride through unchallenged and nonchalantly lob Trigg to put the away side 1-0 up at half time despite desperate appeals for offside.
Go Bowling flexed their muscles in the second half, and a superb one-on-one save by Trigg kept the score down minutes after the turnaround. The only yellow card of the match was then issued to a Go Bowling midfielder, who reacted aggressively following a superb sliding tackle by Smith who showed great fighting spirit for the full 90 minutes. The away side then survived two goalmouth scrambles which saw Chequers fail to capitalise on some good positions, and unfortunately Go Bowling effectively killed the game off on 60 minutes. Chequers' defensive line was way too high at a free-kick, and amongst the melee of players rushing towards goal a Go Bowling player rose freely to thump a bullet header past Trigg for 0-2. The Purples then did their best to press the self-destruct button but somehow survived near-own goals from both Hinton and Tracy, before a close range effort was cleared off the line with Go Bowling appealing for a goal. The half-fit Gavin O'Brien was introduced with 20 minutes remaining in an attempt to turn the tide, and Chequers did improve in the final quarter of the game but couldn't avoid conceding a third. A break down the flank saw a winger hit the inside of the post with his shot, and a striker was on hand to clip the ball into the empty net to well and truly seal the win for his side at 0-3. Roullier was introduced for Hinton up front for the final 10 minutes, and his diagonal ball to Warne saw the winger present Smith with another chance but he was unable to convert at the far post. Roullier then tried his own luck, backheel-flicking the ball over a defenders head into the penalty area but the danger was cleared away for a corner. The resulting set piece saw Smith put the ball in the back of the net at the second attempt, but the assistant's flag had long been raised for offside.
The scoreline perhaps did not reflect the performances of the two teams, but more worryingly this was Chequers fourth straight defeat in all competitions and they will need to find some form quickly now if they are to turn around a poor start to the season.
Man of the Match went to Tom Smith for his whole-hearted performance in midfield which, in truth, deserved a goal to cap it off.