Orpington suffered their first loss of the season by narrow margins against Green Street Green. Despite goals from Haden, Rob Utton and a brace from Harry Utton, it was not enough to win them a match which could have turned out very differently.
Manager Matt Utton opted to leave out returning left back, Matt Duggan from the starting line-up and chose to deploy Austin Facer with Harry Utton at centre back, forcing Rob Utton out to the left back slot. Continuing with the 4-4-2 formation which proved effective last weekend, Orpington started well and dictated early proceedings. However, a mix up in the reshuffled defence saw GSG score the first goal of the game with an easy shot.
Orpington levelled the score soon after. Following a long throw into the box from Rob Utton which was hurriedly cleared by the GSG, Haden struck a perfect first time volley which lobbed the ‘keeper from 30 yards out.
Orpington were to be pegged back again though, twice in quick succession, as the defence were once again unable to coordinate themselves to prevent two relatively straightforward attempts on target. However, Orpington have a fire about them which keeps the team fighting and it wasn’t long before Rob Utton played a through ball to Haden who cut across the back line and advanced on the ‘keeper only to be brutally fouled by the on-rushing shot stopper. In remarkable circumstances, the referee only awarded a free kick and took no further action against the ‘keeper, despite a clear goal scoring opportunity being prevented. Nevertheless, the free kick was enough to bring Orpington back into the match as Harry Utton stepped up and placed the set piece far enough away in the right hand side of the goal that the ‘keeper had no chance of reaching the ball.
Orpington failed to make the momentum pay and GSG restored their 2 goal cushion just before the break, with some scrappy play in the box resulting in a shot that went through ‘keeper, Matt Utton’s hands.
In the second half, Utton made wholesale changes and restored the recognised back four, bringing on Duggan, pushing Facer into his much more accustomed central defensive position and restoring the Utton centre back partnership. Kendrick came on up front, with Akhtar and Hart making their first competitive starts of the season. The changes proved effective and Orpington controlled the play from the start of the half. After some good play in the opposition’s half, a free kick was awarded which was delivered by Turner to the head of Rob Utton, who rose highest and guided the ball into the top corner. Despite a touch from the ‘keeper, he was unable to prevent the deficit being reduced.
Once again though, Orpington were caught out at the back and GSG scored their fifth and final goal, but Orpington quickly responded after another foul resulted in a free kick, which Harry Utton dispatched again, with a little assistance from the defensive wall. With only a single goal separating the teams again, Orpington pushed forward.
In the last 15 minutes, Orpington completely dominated the match and pressed GSG deep into their own half, forcing corners, panicked clearances and general lack of control across the whole team. Rob Utton saw a volley narrowly miss the top corner, Turner had a genuine case for a goal after a fantastic long range effort and Haden saw another fabulous shot cannon off the crossbar. The intensity continued right up until the final whistle, and Orpington were clearly dejected having given everything they could in an enthralling encounter, but the simple fact was that the first half had given them too much work to do in the second half.
Orpington have now scored 14 goals in their last 5 matches, a tally that almost accounts for half the goals scored across the whole of last season. The season looks bright and Orpington will be full of confidence when they take on Division 3 leaders, Hayward’s at home on Sunday 9th October, live on Sky Sports 14.