Orpington produced a good display in their final match of the season, but did not quite have enough to come from behind and beat their opponents, AFC Coney Hall.
Orpington have faltered away from home this season, picking up only 2 points from a possible 27 and the weekend’s match failed to improve on that statistic. Following a good run of form, Orpington started positively, but were unable to turn early, controlled possession into substantial opportunities. With only 15 minutes played, Coney Hall staged an attack which resulted in an uncharacteristic mistake from ‘keeper, Matt Utton. Allowing the ball to slip through his grasp, the ball trickled into the back of the net, gifting Coney Hall the early lead. Moments later the lead was doubled when a cut back cross was not effectively dealt with, allowing Coney Hall to tuck the ball away from close range. Coney Hall could have increased their lead if not for two last ditch tackles from Rob Utton and a fantastic goal line clearance by Knott.
Orpington tried to restore parity and Haden and Downs were both unlucky to see shots narrowly miss. Orpington were given the chance to halve the deficit towards the end of the second half when Harry Utton was adjudged to have been pushed in the back, following an Orpington corner. The resultant penalty was dispatched by Utton, giving the ‘keeper little chance.
However, just before the half ended, Coney Hall were awarded a penalty of their own in controversial circumstances. Haden was penalised for fouling his opponent, however replays confirmed that the Coney Hall attacker fell to the ground under his own momentum. After a great deal of remonstrating, the penalty was converted and Coney hall lead the half 3-1.
In the second half, Orpington produced a dominant display, but once again lacked the final killer instinct to convert chances into goals. Karl Turner was brought on for what will be his final official appearance for the club, although manager Matt Utton has hinted that he may return for sporadic emergency outings, should the club deem it necessary. Facer, having missed the previous match, was also brought on to sure up the defence.
Orpington finally saw an attack come to fruition, when Harry Utton’s expertly taken free kick found the bottom corner from 30 yards out. However, minutes later, the referee made a decision in keeping with his poor display on the day by awarding Coney Hall a cheap free kick, leading to a break away by the number 10. Rob Utton came across to cover the run and the attacker saw his opportunity to make the most of the sliding challenge. Hurdling Utton’s leg and throwing himself to the ground in acrobatic fashion was enough to convince the referee that a penalty should be awarded, despite the decision being made from over 50 yards away. Angry protests were ignored and Coney Hall put the spot kick away, despite the unlucky Matt Utton getting fingertips to it.
At the final whistle, Orpington left the field feeling hard done by, but they did have opportunities to turn the game in their favour. Manager Matt Utton commented, “All in all, quite a mixed one [season], people have come, people have gone, results have been good and bad. An improvement next season straight away will be to improve our away results.” As Orpington head into a break and preparations for their 4th season begin, they will need to stand firm together and continue to deliver the performances they have shown in the latter part of this season. If they can turn the draws into wins and reverse the games that have been lost by a single goal (as well as hope for improved refereeing displays), there is a strong chance of achieving a successful season.
Orpington will next be in action as they compete in the Cray Community Cup competition on 28th May at St Mary Cray Recreation Ground.