Away league match played on 05 December 2015.
Kicked off at 2:00 PM

We were talking at the bar after the match and we all agreed that if there are two players that could summarise our efforts to date this season then it was Mark Paget and Konnor Smith!

Pity poor Mark Paget, he joined the club at the beginning of the season, played well in the friendlies and seemed to have nailed down a place at right back or right wing back, but just after a couple of games was forced out due to injury. He came on after 60 minutes today, was immediately involved in the game with some crisp passing then had to go off with a re-occurrence of the same injury!

Now take Konnor Smith, strong, skilful and a great guy. With the chances he had today, if this had been last season he would have had a hat trick. Now he can’t buy a goal! Coaching tip from the great Jimmy Greaves – he never shot on goal – he passed it into the back of the net with 70% power. I’m sure once Konnor scores again – off his shin or his chest or his bum he’ll be off and rolling again.

And then look at those absent today, due to injury or unavailability: Ben Want, Rob Matthews, Ian Baker, Paul Jowitt, (and Scott Staines and Mark Paget on the bench) all would start if available and that’s half a team! Consider also that three of today’s starting eleven have had time out due to injury and suspension.

So onto the match: “disappointing” was the adjective used last week and it was “disappointing” again this week – but for different “better” reasons. To say that Old Herts should have won this game would be a step too far, however they could have if they’d had stopped two preventable goals and had taken their own clear cut chances.

A blustery day welcomed the Lincoln Greens to the return fixture with the team they had drawn with on the opening day of the season. It commenced with a Mangrove attack that was first scrambled away then broken down by conceding a free kick. Over ambitiously, counting on the wind to do its’ job the shot was curled high and wide around the Old Herts goal. Better things were to come though as Rob Burman intelligently played a long ball down to Tanner in the right hand channel and he linked up with Mark Smith.

Mangrove came back with their own long ball, but Moss cut it out and played the ball to Mark Smith in midfield, he played the ball wide to Reed who passed the ball to Tanner, who was fouled. Nothing came of the free kick and Rob Burman was forced to head the ball away to his brother Chris Burman. Again the ball went to Mark Smith, this time up to Tanner and unusually back to Reed. Moss, Reed, Tanner then combined to set Konnor Smith up for a shot that went wide.

Mangrove’s right winger was the best attacking player on the pitch and he made a powerful run at Moss, cut inside but shot wide, which was a common theme for both sides today.

Moss then hit a long clearance up to big Dylan Tanner, who showed persistence in holding the ball up and layoff enabled Konnor Smith to again shoot wide.

Chris Burman hit a long free kick across the park to Mark Smith, who chipped the ball into the Mangrove penalty area, forcing them to concede a corner. Christian’s inswinging corner caused a scramble in the six yard box, Chris Burman couldn’t get the ball from under his feet and the ball was cleared.

Brooks at the back was forced to make a clearance and Rob Burman had to cover, before Mangrove again attacked down their right, Bolton was forced off his line to block the shot and Brooks conceded a corner, which was headed over by Mangrove. Mangrove now started to exert some consistent pressure with firstly a free kick being headed away by Old Herts and then from a long throw Mangrove managed to smack a solid header against the post on 30 minutes.

Rob Burman now started the best Old Herts move of the match (and probably of the last two months!) with a pass to Christian’s feet, he exchanged passes with Chris Burman, the ball went to Mark Smith, who fed Christian on the wing. The cross was whipped in, but Tanner could only head wide.

Having played their best football for weeks, Old Herts failed to break down an attack in midfield and Mangrove forced another corner. The cross was headed down and against Bolton’s post, Chris Burman clearing the rebound, but another corner was forced on 35 minutes. This time the ball was headed home by Coughlan for Mangrove from within the six yard box, which you have to say is a disappointing way to concede any goal.

Mangrove 1 Old Herts Athletic 0

Further injury problems for Old Herts now occurred as Rob Burman had to go off with another hamstring problem, to be replaced by Matt Reeves.
A dangerous run by the Mangrove right winger saw another cross headed wide and Brooks had to tidy up a few minutes later heading the ball back to Bolton, before as the first half was coming to a close Old Herts had their best chance of the game as Tanner ran onto along ball and crossed for Konnor Smith to hit his attempt wide, when last year he would have found the corner of the net.

The second half commenced with some intense Mangrove pressure, which Brooks and Barnes were coping well with, although Brooks had to commit a foul on the edge of the box. There were enraged protests from the over excited Mangrove players, but as Brooks explained to the referee he had merely tripped the geezer and not given him “the full treatment”. This however was the last meaningful intervention by Brooks as he also needed to go off for treatment to be replaced by Staines on 53 minutes, Mark Smith dropping back to play next to Barnes in the centre of defence.

Matt Reeves now at right back fed Reed with the ball going over to Staines, but the passing movements were not as good as in the first half. A Mangrove corner was scrambled away and a quick Old Herts counter attack was foiled as Chris Burman was clumsily fouled from behind on the half way line.

Staines pushed the ball forward to Chris Burman and he sent a through ball onto Christian, who forced a corner. The resultant kick was competently caught by the Mangrove keeper though.

A Mangrove breakaway saw them straight through on goal, round the outcoming keeper and then hit the post! This was then followed up by a mazy run from their dangerous winger, but he also shot wide!

Barnes was needed for some good, cool defending and he calmly played the ball out of defence for Konnor Smith and Jim Reeves to battle competitively to retain the ball in midfield. Barnes again made a good interception and a neat move involving Matt Reeves, Chris Burman and Jim Reeves developed before Reed committed a foul and was duly penalised. The Mangrove attack resulted in another shot going over the bar with 70 minutes gone.

Matt Reeves turned defence into attack finding Barnes with a square pass he moved the ball forward to Chris Burman and on it went to Konnor Smith eagerly looking to pass the ball to Tanner, who was then fouled. Jim Reeves free kick went wide.

The game was now being stretched and on 86 minutes a long ball down the middle was not cut out this time and Fletcher for Mangrove stuck the ball low and hard from around the penalty spot to secure the three points.

Mangrove 2 Old Herts Athletic 0

There was merely time for Bolton to make a good save from an almost identical move and for Christian to be fouled as Old Herts looked for some consolation.

So as was said at the top of the report, it could have been different. A settled first choice starting eleven and some shooting boots would achieve that!

Some unscientific stats: Mangrove total attempts on goal: 12 On target: 3
Old Herts total attempts on goal: 4 On target: 0

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