Many thanks to Alex for todays match report.
We played Deal Town Rangers in the final game of last season, winning 1-2, so it was interesting to find ourselves entertaining them in the first match of this term. We played on a pitch at Jackey Baker's which just by walking across it would have a poor traveller seasick, such were the peculiar undulations it offered. The weather was bright and sunny, the wind a little blustery.
We began in stellar fashion, moving the ball quickly and fluently. It was clear within a moment or two that we were the better footballing side when a move starting with Charlie Steine and involving Mateusz, ended with Sam forcing a save. The resulting corner was headed over by Mateusz. Our domination continued with a free kick by Callum; it was collected by Sam and the save resulted in another corner. The fine delivery by Charlie Steine was headed over the bar by Del. I have given thought to this on quite a few occasions last season, and once more David's training regime was already showing signs of expression, yet one aspect of his training I clearly missed, as I do not remember him ever insisting we should do everything but score! We were profligate in front of goal, and for Thomas Skinner that is spelt with a capital 'Prrr!', (this lad will become a man of letters, mark my words).
Halfway through the first half an altercation with the visitor's left winger and our Manager resulted in the ref 'sin-binning' the lad. A rude young upstart who clearly couldn't handle our superiority on the ball. The spectators were aghast at the missed opportunities, but in football as in life that happens. Meanwhile in defence a sterling performance by the back line, ably shielded by Galin, Del and Callum looked as strong as it ever has. Charlie Howard was outstanding and the two Toms, Barker and Skinner banged the drum, (or was it the 'Tom-Tom'?) by forming a good partnership and locking up the middle, and Michael completed the line. True to feared expectations after 33 minutes the opposition took the lead with a hard driven shot from the edge of the box. It was from a rare solitary serious attack, and despite Finley shooting wide, a quick left-footed shot scrambled away at the near post from Charlie Steine, and innumerable other chances that went begging from Del, Sam and Mateusz we went in that goal down at halftime.
The second half was not quite a repeat of the first, however we still had the lion's share of the play-with Sean joining the fray and busying himself in the opponent's box. Then finally within six minutes of the restart that elusive goal came, thanks to a shot off the bar, courtesy of Del, with some good work from Sean leading up to the goal.
Within a few minutes we were celebrating our second-Del's second also when another fine corner kick by Charlie Steine caused consternation in Deal's defence and Del fired home. We looked impressive at this stage and it perhaps encouraged the spectators to believe that the required third goal-which would have surely seen off our opponents-would follow soon enough. Michael found time to head what most thought was nailing the game for us, but their keeper made a fine save. Add to that a number of half chances that came our way but still we couldn't find that third goal. Meanwhile on sporadic attacks at the other end our defence stood strong, Michael proving that he could scamper back to cover his own backline by making important headed clearances too. The whole defence shepherded well by Tom Skinner looked strong, and the one main attempt at goal asked a lot from Lewis who was equal to those demands by leaping acrobatically and tipping a shot away from the top corner of our goal. That third goal didn't happen! Then as time ran out a speculative long shot caught Lewis unaware and just off his line; despite a valiant effort in backpedalling and getting fingertips to the ball, it dropped over him and into the net. This also happens. So a 2-2 draw to begin the new campaign- I think it augers well for this squad that a draw was felt as a disappointment. Whenever a team have countless opportunities to put a game to bed and don't, it allows a 'fluke' goal, or rogue shot to rescue a result for a slightly inferior side. We just have to take our chances in ensuing games.
This team looked likely contenders in the second half of last season-only losing one match and playing some of the best football in the division. Well the squad has altered, and though we have lost some invaluable talent we have found new. Personally I am convinced that this squad looks more balanced and overall a better bet in challenging for the title. In this there are arguable three steps which all our players need to take. The first step is absorbing that others, both inside and outside the squad, can see the potential and then believing in that suggested ability. The second is putting into practise the desire to make it occur, by focussing and working hard at training. The third and final step is to give expression to that 'team talent', on the pitch on Sundays, for others to witness. You are potentially that good Hugin.
On a broader note it is apt to welcome into the ranks the debutantes. Sam, Sean, Tom Barker, Callum and Lewis were the newcomers, and Del was an 'old' newcomer returning to the side. They all proved what assets they will be to the team. As an onlooker I was most impressed with their performances, so welcome Vikings-and to each I would say, 'Keep playing like one!'
Man of the Match went to Delroy for overall work rate, performance and of course the 2 goals. Very good performance from the whole team today, a little disappointed to not take all 3 points but we must be more clinical in front of goal. Back to training on Friday 5:30pm until 7pm to prepare for Tankerton Colts. Please make every effort to attend.