Orpington secured all 3 points for the second game in succession with an assured and committed performance against Fulham Spartans with goals from Mogridge and Haden.
Orpington, the form team in the league, showed squad depth this weekend as, despite the absence of some key players, they produced a fine display to win at home for the second game in a row. Manager Utton was forced to shuffle his pack and opted to set up slightly differently to last week’s winning formation. Learning from the previous draw with Spartans, Utton deployed debutant Austin Facer at defensive midfield to quell the attacks that Spartans created down the middle.
The opening exchanges saw Spartans drive forward and attempt to pressure the back line into errors and force an initial goal. However, thanks to the addition of Facer, attacks were continuously forced wide and the experienced full backs Duggan and Knott stifled almost every attempt. On the rare occasion Spartans made it through the middle, the centre back pairing of brothers Rob and Harry Utton were confident and composed to clear their lines with authority.
Orpington created attacks of their own in the first half and Facer, Haden and Mogridge were all unfortunate not to put chances away. At half time the score line was goalless and both teams went off to refocus their game plan.
After the break it was Orpington who came out on top. Spartans seemed to have run out of any telling ideas and resorted to long shots which either went wide or were easily held by ‘keeper Matt Utton. Facer constantly made it difficult for the Spartans midfield to produce anything and the defence were practically impenetrable. On the hour mark,, Orpington broke the deadlock in a manner which exemplified the work rate and attitude of the team. A ball over the top, seemingly heading out of play was chased down by Hart, who crossed the ball back across goal to Mogridge at the far post. With his initial shot blocked, Mogridge was presented with a second opportunity which he hammered over the ‘keeper and into the roof of the net. Orpington deservedly lead.
The rest of the game played out with Orpington on top. Further shots from Haden and Akhtar, on for Mogridge, were well saved by the Spartans ‘keeper. Orpington were gunning for a second to aid their position and in contrast to their patient and deliberate passing play, they were rewarded for their efforts with a direct, route one effort with only 5 minutes remaining. A long range kick form the ‘keeper, looped over the top of the Spartans defender for Haden, playing up front for the first time this season, who ran onto it and despite a last ditch tackle from the exhausted defender, slotted the ball into the back of the net. Debate surrounded the resulting effort as to whether it may have been an own goal, but for the uncompromising effort shown by Haden throughout the game, he deserved all the credit.
Orpington finished the game as 2-0 winners having shown true team spirit and togetherness along with a fantastic debut display from Facer. Now, with only 4 games remaining in their season, Orpington should be considering as high a finish as possible. Here’s to a grandstand finish and proving all the doubters wrong.
Orpington’s next match is home to Inter Cross on Sunday 28th February. Kick off 10:30. Ticks on general sale.