Saturday saw Catsfield travel to local rivals Crowhurst in the basement battle of Division 2. The Cats, currently propping up Division 2, would leapfrog Crowhurst with a win and put behind the cup disappointment of last week.
A flurry of returning players gave manager Tony Luke a selection headache, then news broke that both goalkeepers, D. Champion and Winn, would be unavailable which meant an outfield player would have to don the gloves and keep net.
That responsibility was taken up by the returning N. Champion, who usually plays in central defence.
The back four was unchanged from the previous game. Pistol and Swain at right and left back with Graham and Rawlings in the centre - the illusive clean sheet still a target for the Cats.
The major news in the middle of the park was that the returning Newman started in the centre of midfield with Rollison which meant pushing Paffett out to the right hand side with Gurr once again starting on the left.
A change in attack saw the returning Luke start with White up front - the partnership which the Cats began this league campaign with.
For the first time in a while the Cats could boast a full bench to choose from. Harris, Reus and Atkins were named as the three substitutes.
The start of the game had an eerily familiar feeling about it. The Cats were lucky not concede in the early exchanges as a Crowhurst freekick was fizzed in which stand in 'keeper Champion did well to tip on to the bar and out for a corner.
The Cats took the lead in the 10th minute when a speculative ball forward was made a mess of by the Crowhurst defence. The defensive header was a poor one - which landed at Luke's feet, he took a touch to control and his second one was a cool finish into the bottom corner - bread and butter for the Catsfield front man.
1-0 quickly became 2-0 in the game changing moment, which occurred in only the 15th minute. An outswinging corner from Paffett was met with a firm header from Luke. The ball, destined for the left hand corner, was then intercepted by a Crowhurst defenders arm before crossing the line - a penalty and red card was the result. Although a lot of complaints from the Crowhurst side, you had to admit that the referee had no choice. White duly stepped up and smashed home a convincing penalty to make it 2-0 to the Cats - the exact same situation they found themselves in the previous week albeit this week being a man to the good.
The first half then petered out - the Cats coasting and Crowhurst not really being able to threaten with the 10-men which they now had. 2-0 at the break.
The second half began just like the first half ended. Catsfield cruising in third gear, thinking they'd get another 1 or 2 goals against a tiring Crowhurst side. Catsfield made their first change on the hour mark as Reus replaced Paffett, the second change coming 5 minutes later when Atkins replaced Luke as the Cats reshuffled in to a 4-5-1 formation. A flurry of Crowhurst pressure then occurred as they went searching for a way back in to the game and almost did so if it were not for the woodwork. A rasping shot rattling the crossbar.
Catsfield then made their third and final substitution in the 75th minute as Harris replaced Swain. Reus dropped in to left back, White in to left midfield and Harris up front on his own as the Cats persisted with the 4-5-1 formation.
Crowhurst grabbed a late goal in the 82nd minute - the striker finishing well, tucking the ball beyond N. Champion who will be disappointed not to have kept a clean sheet (which would have been the first of this season). It has to be said that despite Crowhurst only having 10 men for the majority of the game they gave a spirited performance and stretched Champion a few times - he was, in my view, the Man of the Match - especially considering the fact he is not a natural goalkeeper.
As Crowhurst went for broke in search of an equaliser it left them exposed at the back. Newman had an effort from range tipped on to the bar and out by the Crowhurst keeper when the ball look destined for the back of the net. Harris should of then put the game to bed when he found himself in acres of room in the middle of the box, his first time left foot shot was straight at the goalkeeper though. He then had a fizzing effort from 20-yards well saved too.
After what seemed a decade of time added on, the referee blew the final whistle, handing the Cats their first league win of the season. The win propelled the Cats into 7th as they leapfrogged both Crowhurst and Wittersham. Next week see's the Cats travel to Portslade as they continue their Sussex Cup adventure.
#UpTheCats #GunMetalGreys #JacketsAreDecent!