Saturday saw Catsfield lock horns with Division 1 outfit Sandhurst in a thrilling encounter which produced no less than 8 goals! Despite being a division between them, Catsfield did not look out of their depth for the most part. The huge pitch did play its part in the end though as the home team definitely knew how to play on it effectively and used the width to their advantage as the Cats struggled to cope. The pitch was even quoted as being ‘wider than Wembley’ by the home side.
A worrying injury list is starting to stack up as D. Champion, Booth, Hart, Gardner and Baker all missed out through injury. Newman becomes available next week after serving his last match suspended here whilst N. Champion, Luke and Thomas all missed out as well.
Winn retained his place in goal from the impressive display in the Horsham game. Waughman and Swain filled the right and left back roles respectively whilst yet another centre-back pairing in usual winger Rawlings and the returning Graham made up the Cats central defence.
The midfield had an air of familiarity about it as both Paffett and Rollison retained their places and formed the central midfield partnership whilst Atkins started on the right and the returning Gurr playing as a make-shift left midfielder.
Both White and Harris once again started in attack as they looked to kick start their partnership with a few goals.
Against the Run of Play
The opening exchanges saw Sandhurst dominate the possession – their centre midfielder dropping off, collecting the ball and switching the play was a tactic they employed from the very start which Catsfield couldn’t deal with all game long. The first chance came after just 5 minutes when a Sandhurst strikers rasping effort crashed off the crossbar and away to safety. Sandhurst continued to retain possession well but both Graham and Rawlings were effective in clearing their lines as Sandhurst’s final ball wasn’t ever quite good enough. The Cats, however, were sloppy and unable to retain possession effectively – their only chance was a free kick just inside the Sandhurst penalty box after the referee deemed a ball back to the ‘keeper was a pass back. Harris’ effort was blocked effectively by the defence though, the ball having all the sting taken out of it before squirming through to the goalkeeper who made a comfortable save. It was indeed Catsfield who took the lead in the 15th minute though – White doing well down at the byline, winning a corner, which not only gave Catsfield defensive relief but could also mount an attack. Paffett clipped a beautiful ball in and upon Graham leaping to meet it there was only ever going to be one outcome. His bullet of a header found the top right hand corner with both goalkeeper and defender on the post helpless. You could say it was against the run of play but Catsfield didn’t care!
The home side looked to get back in to it straight away but once again their final ball wasn’t quite good enough to severely trouble the Cats backline. When Catsfield won a free kick deep in the Sandhurst half in the 25th minute another chance was in the offing. Graham swung a ball over which only got half headed away – it fell to the feet of Atkins who controlled, his shot was a scuffed one but it turned in to a beautiful ‘pass’ to Rollison on the edge of the six yard box who took a touch and calmly tucked it in to the bottom left hand corner to give the Cats a 2-0 away lead!
2-0 could quite easily have been 3-0 minutes later when White broke the offside trap and shot narrowly wide from a tight angle – both Gurr and Harris were screaming for a pull back on the edge of the six yard box. It has to be said that if the Cats went 3-0 up there might not have been a way back for the home side. Catsfield were content to ride the rest of the half out though and go in to half time at 2-0, Sandhurst had other ideas however. Another Graham free kick in the Sandhurst half was cleared away effectively this time and a first time long ball beat the Cats defence for the Sandhurst striker to lash home to bring his side back in to the game. Sandhurst were then level on the stroke of half time as a fizzing effort from the edge of the box beat Winn, who got a hand to it, but the power took it in.
2-2 seemed a fair result going in to half time as both teams were cancelling each other out. The hardworking Catsfield midfield doing their best to nullify the Sandhurst playmakers with big chances for both sides coming at a premium.
The second half was a nightmarish 45 minutes for the Cats as they never really got going. Sandhurst bagged three goals in 15 second half minutes which blew Catsfield away as tiredness also crept in from chasing the ball as Sandhurst retained possession well on the huge pitch.
The third Sandhurst goal came only 5 minutes after the restart. The Sandhurst number 10, who was a real thorn in the Cats paw all afternoon did well in the box – bamboozling Winn before squaring to his strike partner to knock in to the empty net. Catsfield then made the first of their two available substitutions as Atkins once again made way for Reus who’s aim was to inject a bit of youth and much needed pace. He played on the left whilst Gurr switched over to the right.
The fourth and fifth goals came within 3 minutes of each other, the fourth was an effort from the edge of the box which looped up and over Winn. The 63rd minute was what really killed off the Cats though as a dubious penalty was awarded to the home team. It appeared that the striker pushed Rawlings in to Winn who then cleaned them all out – the referee saw different however and pointed to the spot. Despite diving the right way and getting fingertips to it, the penalty found its way in to the left hand corner and made it 5-2 to the home side. 5 goals without reply!
Catsfield then made their 2nd and final substitution with the returning Bradbury replacing Harris up front. The Cats went for broke as Graham left the back line to go up front with White and Bradbury, changing the Cats in to a 3-4-3 formation. A sniff of a comeback was on the cards in the 81st minute when Graham released Bradbury down the left hand side who showed good pace, outstripping the defender before finishing well in to the top left hand corner with help from the underside of the crossbar. Sandhurst sensed the comeback and duly played keep ball for the remaining 10 minutes with no other real sniffs at goal for either side.
5-3 it finished and a disappointing final result after a 2-0 lead was given away by the Cats. Sandhurst were the better team over the 90 minutes however and fully deserved to progress to the next round.
Catsfield travel to local rivals Crowhurst next week, searching for their first and much needed league win to lift them off the foot of the table and with a few returning players manager Luke has some tough decisions to make.
#UpTheCats #GunMetalGreys #JacketsHaveArrived!