An injury ravished Catsfield squad travelled to bottom side Northiam on Saturday in search of their first win since November. 3 points here for the Cats would widen the gap between them and the bottom sides and certainly ease some relegation nerves and after 3 consecutive heavy defeats, this game had turned in to a must-win for the Gun Metal Greys.
A host of injuries and unavailability saw manager Tony Luke only able to name an initial squad of 13. White, N. Champion, Atkins and Hart are all on the injury list whilst Graham, Thomas and Winn were all unavailable. Newman, Gurr and Baker were also injury doubts but made the match day squad.
D. Champion made his second consecutive start in goal with regular full-backs Pistol Waughman and Swain slotting in at right and left back respectively. An enforced change in the centre of defence saw Newman drop back from his usual central midfield role as he partnered Rawlings.
A few changes in midfield saw Paffett partner Rollison in the centre of midfield with the returning Booth operating down the left and a change in role for Bradbury as he slotted in at right midfield.
Harris started in attack with Luke in the pocket - linking the play between the midfield and the attack.
Two Quick Fire Replies
The game started at a fast and furious pace, the Cats almost being in on goal in the opening seconds, Harris' shot was blocked though. Booth then showed good pace down the left, flying past the right back before seeing his blocked cross go out for a corner - the Cats dominating the early possession.
It was in fact the home side that took the lead in the 7th minute though as a lofted through ball beat the Cats defence - the home sides striker showed good pace and hit a lofted shot up and over Champion and despite getting a hand to it, it wasn't enough to divert the ball enough and it dropped down and over the line - an underserved lead for Northiam. The lead lasted all of five minutes though as the Cats hit back. A cross led to panic inside the Northiam box - it dropped to Bradbury at the back post who slammed a convincing shot in at the near post to bring Catsfield on to level terms.
Catsfield continued to be the better side and were a final ball away from scoring again 2 or 3 times. A flurry of corners and freekicks were swung in to the home sides box but all were managed to be cleared away. The visitors were then sucker punched by Northiam as the home side won a corner of their own. The initial corner was cleared back out to the original taker - his low ball across the box was turned in by a free attacker standing within the six yard box, 2-1 to the home side in the 20th minute. Once again the lead only lasted 5 minutes though as Catsfield showed good character to get themselves level. Harris turned in a bit of space just inside the Northiam half before looking up and seeing Bradbury start a run - his clipped through ball was a good one and Bradbury showed the covering defender a clean pair of heels before showing great composure to round the onrushing 'keeper and slot in to the empty net.
Catsfield then went pushing for a third goal but the home side managed to keep them at bay until the break. 2-2 at half time.
Composed Second Half
It only took 4 second half minutes for Catsfield to get their third goal and take the lead for the first time in the match. A lofted ball to the edge of the Northiam box was only half cleared by the defence and landed 25 yards out were Luke was lurking. He unleashed an absolute thunderbolt of a shot which flew in to the net beating the goalkeeper all ends up.
The Cats weren't finished there though and got their 4th and the games 6th goal just 8 minutes later. Bradbury broke free down the right, once again showing good pace before an unselfish squared pass left Harris to tap in to an empty net from 3 yards out. The away side now having a two goal cushion, 2-4.
Catsfield were then forced in to their first change as Newman's calf injury became too much for him to play on. Reus coming on to replace him - a slight reshuffle saw Booth go centre back and Reus slot in at left midfield. 2-4 then became 2-5 with 23 minutes remaining as Swain's corner was met by Rollison's head, flying in to the net with the aid of a Northiam defenders deflection.
The Cats then made their second change as Gurr replaced Harris with 15 minutes remaining as the away side looked to play this tie out. Northiam almost made a game of it with 6 minutes remaining though as a cross from the left was eventually turned in. That was the end of the goal mouth action though as the game petered out and the Cats securing the win, 3-5.
With no game next week, Catsfield will have to wait until a week Saturday to build on this win when they lock horns with Wittersham at the Catsfield Rec. The Cats will be looking to exact some revenge after the 4-1 defeat they suffered at Wittersham earlier on in the season.