Away league match played on 08 November 2015.
Kicked off at 2:00 PM

Managers Thoughts :

Today we had a real chance to get back in contention for the top spot. Unfortunately our midfield went missing in the first half too often, failing to win the first ball, even the second ball, failing to track runners etc. We went 2-0 up with 2 great goals, but credit to Chartham for coming back at us to make it 3-2 to them at half time. The second half was very different, we started to play with belief again, we had numerous chances and manged to come back and level the score. We rode our luck at times but we defended so much better second half and we thoroughly deserved to take the lead 4-3 however it was ruled offside. I don’t like to criticise people when they are volunteering but the offside call to rule out Delroy’s goal was in my opinion, a very very poor decision, bordering on ludicrous. I was stood directly opposite and under no circumstances thought the flag would go up, Delroy was clearly onside. We thoroughly deserved to get at least a point from this game but unfortunately we were robbed by an awful decision. Delroy had a superb second half and was instrumental in the second half comeback. Galin was also superb second half when pushed back into midfield.

Man of the Match for me was Charlie Steine this week, 2 goals and an assist, a fantastic performance and certainly settling into the right wing position very well.

As ever, thanks to Alex for Sundays match report, also big thanks to Del for running the line, appreciate the help.

*Update* Sorry to have to report that Farjad is going to be out for approximately 6 weeks * Wish you a speedy recovery, such a shame as you were starting to break into the team proper.

On a mild but overcast afternoon we faced the opposition on their own patch, a relatively flat surface, but I thought the length of the grass would affect our passing and movement game more than it did. We knew we were in for a fight when after three minutes their first shot brushed the outside of our post. We settled quite quickly and in the opening spell played some delightful football. On seven minutes a move involving Callum, Finley, Sam and Charlie Steine concluded with his shot-destined for the goal-was touched over by the keeper. From the resulting corner on our left, Charlie Steine picked up a loose ball in a challenge, moved across the edge of the area and fired a screamer into the top right hand corner of the goal, 0-1 to the Vikings. A minute later Sam was put through with a 'one on one', but pulled his shot wide. A couple of minutes later Callum's free kick found Marcus, but his header was saved. A moment later we broke speedily; Charlie Steine received the ball and after a twenty yard carry delicately placed the ball into Del's path. He took it under control expertly and blasted it into the far corner, 0-2 to us. Whether it was complacency or not a couple of minutes later one of their attacks saw five attempts at clearing the ball fail, and finally it ended in the back of our net, despite a valiant effort from Tom Barker and then Charlie Howard. Lewis' despairing dive wasn't enough as he couldn't quite get a hand on the ball, 1-2. Their tails were up and a moment later Lewis saved a short range sharp shot. The ball came back and we had a cameo from Tom Skinner. He threw himself into a blocking tackle and the ball squirted away. It was lifted back in and Tom managed to get his head to the ball to send it away again, it was collected and the player advanced only for Tom to crash tackle the player winning the ball well. At this stage I half expected some of our lads plead, 'Can we play, Tom?'

For the next few minutes we took the fight to them, and after one attack Finley was fouled. Callum sent the kick just over the bar. In the twenty second minute one attack finished with a player slipping the ball under Lewis's body again from short range, 2-2. We had the similar symptom to last week. We are great going forward but our defensive responsibilities are suspect. Where, oh where was the cover for our two centre backs? No defensive midfielder anywhere to be seen. Three of our players seemed to be marking invisible men on the halfway line...and the action was around our area! This was a regular theme sadly, and a minute after the equaliser they were threatening again, this time they hit the outside of our left hand post. Then a minute later Lewis was again called into action, saving a reasonable shot on target. We spent the next few minutes trying to hold back the tide. It was relentless. A pattern had formed again like the previous week, we cleared our lines, the ball came back. Little tackling back, too many players up field and no anchor at the base of our midfield protecting our defence. It was an accident waiting to happen and on thirty minutes it did. After some desperate defending, with Michael doing his best to save the ball from going for a corner but failing. The corner was cleared but they won a free kick. The ball flew past Lewis into the net, 3-2. We again had let in three goals in quick succession. You don't win games, let alone championships if you do that. So from a two goal cushion we were behind. Our offensive play was good though, and a corner was forced, then a second. Charlie Steine put in both; the first put behind for the second. This one Sam got his head to, but put it wide. Just before half time Finley was fouled. He took the kick but unfortunately it went straight to the keeper. Half Time 3-2.

We still wanted to play gung ho style and sometimes it pays off, but without the defensive discipline it is always a gamble. Within two minutes Finley went through but his shot was saved. In the forty fifth minute Charlie Steine won the ball and began a slalom run weaving between men then firing in a shot which hit the side netting. In the forty eighth minute our charge of the light brigade tactics paid off. Fudge had entered the fray and his presence was telling as he helped to break up their attacks at the front of midfield. Galin was in the back line, but then moved into a defensive midfield position which gave us a lot of the cover we needed for our twin centre backs. The Tom-Tom partnership, though Tom Skinner went off late on; any two of Charlie Howard, Tom Barker or Tom Skinner offer a pairing of great similarity. Fudge had received the ball from Delroy, and carried the ball before releasing Mateusz. Mateusz displayed some clever footwork before sending over a great cross, and attacking the ball was Charlie Steine. He leaped and planted his header firmly past the keeper from around seven yards. It was now 3-3. From the kick Fudge won the ball and fed Charlie Steine, he chipped the ball into Finley but the keeper made a block save from him to keep the scores level. A few minutes later and from a corner we had a scrambled attempt from Mateusz, Galin and Finley, but between them they just couldn't force the ball over the line.

It was still far too open a game for any spectators' liking though. A few minutes on and Lewis was called upon to save us. He pushed the ball around the post for a corner, which was blasted over. Michael was having a wonderful game on our right flank-he and Charlie Steine linked very well, though there were two separate occasions when Michael made great saving tackles, as I have intimated before this lad takes no prisoners. In the sixty second minute a full bloodied cross caught Callum in the face but the interpretation was 'handball'. The kick went harmlessly over the bar. Four minutes later we were in a tangle as we tried to deal with a corner, but as the ball was arrowed towards the goal 'majestic' Marcus came hurtling in to ute his customary, 'goal off the line' clearance. We were living on the edge and a couple of minutes later, focussing on going forward we left the back door open. They found their way into our box too easily despite Charlie Howard's attempts to stem the attack, and the shot riffled the side netting. Their supporters and some players believed it was a goal-it wasn't. To give an example if we have little support for the defence and Tom Barker gets a foot to the ball it is often picked up by another opposing player and the attack is still on, this happened twice. Marcus was doing this throughout on the other flank but thankfully had a wonderful game. Team work play mates!

Switching emphasis we again drove forward, and with Fudge receiving the ball from Galin, he found Del. He took the ball in his stride and breaking through their ranks, delivered an exquisite finish, tucking the ball beyond the keeper. The linesman flagged him offside-the referee having given the goal, reversed his decision. He shrugged as if he was helpless, but the lino is only there to support the referee if he needs it. He didn't in my opinion, as even to me-in a less advantageous position I could see Delroy was clearly onside. Twice in the last three games we have had perfectly good goals ruled out by poor officiating. With eight minutes left on the clock we escaped as a run down our right resulted in a shot which hit our bar, the rebound was hit back in and Lewis made a fine gathering save. Too often Marcus on one side and Charlie Howard or Michael were asked to make 'do or die' tackles, that shouldn't be a regular team feature. With just a minute to play they came forward once more. Again we were caught light at the back and the shot from their attacker just eluded Lewis-he got to it but couldn't prevent it crossing the line. The final whistle signalled the unkindest result, a 4-3 defeat. On the downside Chartham remain top of the league with a one hundred per cent record, but on the upside we remain second.

I still believe we are capable of winning this division, certainly a runners' up spot is on the cards; however with kamikaze style attacking we are asking for the sucker punches, which are most certainly being delivered. Last week we were hit by three successive goals because our attacking players are not supporting our defence adequately, it happened again this week and we lost both games by the odd goal. It doesn't need much to convince anyone that if we address the recklessness in charging forward we could have wrung victories from both defeats. We need a shield like Galin in front of our twin centre backs, discipline in the other two central midfield positions, whereby one lends himself to the attack and the other drops, then when the play is on the other side the corresponding player attacks with his partner dropping to cover. We also want mobility from our front men, tackling back, pressurising their defence-defending in their half, gentlemen. We are the best team around for certain, as now I have seen all teams in the division. Do not 'mug' yourselves again. The best attack is based on a solid defence. Let's do it in the next match, gentlemen.

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