Catsfield looked to capitalise on their recent league win against Pebsham Sibex with another 3-points on Saturday when they locked horns with Tackleway. The Cats were originally meant to be the away side in this fixture but the pitch got switched to the Rec as Tackleway’s pitch at Barley Lane was unplayable.
A goalkeeping dilemma gave manager Tony Luke a headache as both D. Champion and Winn declared themselves unavailable. After some persuading, Winn did indeed don the gloves and retained his goalkeeping position from the previous game.
There was one change in the back four as Graham couldn’t quite shake off the ankle injury that forced him off in the Pebsham game which meant Rawlings partnered N. Champion in central defence with Swain and ‘Pistol’ Pete Waughman in the right and left back roles.
Manager Luke opted for a more defensive formation this week as Bradbury slotted in to the ‘Makelele’ role just in-front of the back four with Newman and Rollison further up in central midfield. Booth slotted in at right midfield and White was over on the left which left Luke as the lone striker.
Harris, Paffett and Baker took up the substitute roles – the latter making his first squad appearance since the first game of last season when he suffered knee ligament damage.
Slow Out The Blocks
As the game kicked off you could tell it wouldn’t be long until the game would become some form of slog-fest as the pitch was barely playable from the get-go. The visitors weren’t standing on ceremony though and duly punished Catsfield within the first 5 minutes. The Tackleway number 9, who turned out to be the best player on the pitch by the fulltime whistle, wiggled his way through the Cats defence and got himself in to a yard of space inside the box – prodding a finish past the onrushing Winn to put his side 0-1 up.
The visitors could then count themselves unlucky not to be 2 or 3 up in the first 20 minutes as Winn made several good stops to keep the Cats in it.
The Cats then grabbed an equaliser as Luke found some space down the left – his cross from the corner of the box turned in to a shot which went up and over the hapless Tackleway goalkeeper and nestled in the far corner to bring his side level at 1-1.
The parity lasted all of one minute though as Tackleway grabbed a second pretty much from their own kick off. Once again their number 9 got the ball and found a yard of shooting space on the edge of the box. His shot arrowed toward the left hand post, clipping the inside of it as it flew in, 1-2. The Cats might have been 1-3 down by the break had N. Champion not halted a Tackleway break away and taken one for the team with a heavy challenge, picking up a booking in the process.
The Cats could in fact of gone in to the break on level terms as a good chance went begging in the 43rd minute. A delicious ball from the outside of the right boot of Luke carved open the Tackleway defence and found White all on his own 10 yards out. His first time left foot shot was a scuffed one however and his effort bobbled just wide. The first half ended and the Cats went in to the break at 1-2 down.
Manager Tony Luke’s half time team talk was rendered pretty much useless as Tackleway scored within 30 seconds of the restart. A visiting midfielder broke free down the right and fed a low ball in to the striker who did well to hold off the defender before laying back to another onrushing midfielder to lash a first time effort in to the roof of the net, leaving Winn with no chance and making it 1-3 to the visitors.
Tackleway weren’t finished there though and went on to score another 4 goals in a goal crazy 15 second half minutes. The fourth almost being a carbon copy of the third as a visiting midfielder lashed home from just inside the box after 49 minutes. The fifth came just 2 minutes later as the visiting number 9 completed his hat trick with a solo run, gliding through the treacle-like turf before finishing low to Winn’s right from just inside the box. The visitors still weren’t finished though and went 1-6 up in the 56th minute with a curling effort from the edge of the box clipping the right hand post before nestling in the corner. Game over as far as a Catsfield comeback was concerned.
Things then went from bad to worse for the Cats as Tackleway got themselves a penalty on the hour mark. A tackle from the Cats defender was deemed a foul by the referee. The resulting spot-kick was smashed home to give the visitors a resounding 1-7 lead. The game done and dusted with half an hour to go.
The Cats then made a double change to give their subs a run out. Harris and Paffett replacing Bradbury and Rawlings. With the game effectively over, the last half an hour fizzled out in to nothingness with the boggy pitch making playing actual football nigh-on impossible. Baker then replaced Luke with 15 minutes to go as the Cats looked to get some sort of consolation. It didn’t come however and it was in fact the visitors who added to their tally with a 90th minute 20-yard freekick which beat both the wall and Winn and nestled in to the bottom left hand corner.
The referee had seen enough and ended a catastrophic day for the Cats compounding them to a 1-8 defeat.
Not much more could be said about the performance but the Cats need to keep their heads up as they play host to this season's high flyers Eastbourne Rangers next week, who are still unbeaten in this league campaign. The Cats are looking to exact some revenge for the 6-0 drubbing they were on the end of in the reverse of this fixture earlier on in the season.