Home league match played on 25 October 2015.
Kicked off at 10:30 AM

Orpington continued their steady improvement as they came from a goal behind to draw 2-2 with Hayward’s at home.

Orpington would have taken a lot of confidence from their previous league game, an unlucky 1-0 loss to Reifield Vipers, and this was evident from the outset of their match against Hayward’s. Orpington started very brightly, immediately getting to work by winning the ball in midfield and playing the ball around fluidly. Within the first 5 minutes, Orpington were on top as Rob Utton lofted a great through ball over the top of Hayward’s defence for Downs to run onto. Through on goal and almost certain to score, Downs was tripped from behind and the referee blew for the obvious penalty. Hayward’s were fortunate not to see their player sent for an early bath. Harry Utton stepped up and easily dispatched the spot kick sending Orpington into the lead.

Hayward’s, who perhaps thought they were going to get an easier ride in this match, decided to step up the game and began to play a great deal in Orpington’s half. However, build up down the right hand side, where Hayward’s thought they could create chances, was constantly thwarted by Duggan who produced one of the finest left back displays of the season. Duggan was first to every ball, in the air and on the ground and never looked likely to miss a tackle.

At the other end of the field, Orpington were also creating chances. Downs was unlucky to see a shot go narrowly wide, Hart had a good effort saved and Akhtar was disappointed to see a long range effort go over. Another chance fell to debutant, David Martin. Having originally signed for Orpington last season, Martin spent all of last year on loan in Australia. Returning to the team for the first time he put in a fantastic shift in the centre of midfield, showing strength to win the ball, composure to make the pass and determination to get back and support the defence. His 30 yard effort was unfortunate not to find the back of the net.

The half nearly played out with Orpington in front, however a loose ball in midfield was played into the left channel for Hayward’s to run onto and the resultant cross was turned in at the second time of asking after a kind ricochet off the post. The teams went in level at the break.

One change at half time saw Haden come on to replace Collins who had been deployed in an unfamiliar central midfield position. The change almost paid off immediately, with Haden winning the ball from kick off, darting through 3 players and feeding Downs who couldn’t quite finish off the move. Orpington clearly believed in themselves and continued to press. With a few more composed finishes and touches, Orpington could have had a handful of goals. But it was Hayward’s who, against the run of play, saw themselves go a goal into the lead. A hopeful long ball was played into the defence and Rob Utton’s misjudged headed clearance looped backwards with goalkeeper Matt Utton agonisingly unable to tip the ball over the bar. A disappointing own goal, but not enough to dent Orpington’s determined spirit.

Further changes saw Blower and McIllmurray come on and Orpington were clearly going for goals. Sticking to their game plan, the ball spent long periods in Hayward’s half and chances were being created. With 10 minutes to go the manger pushed 3 up top and forced the opposition defence and midfield back. And with 1 minute to play, the deep lying Hayward’s were made to pay as a throw in was picked up by Rob Utton, able to push up from defence, and fire of a powerful 30 yard strike which thundered into the back of the net. A roaring Utton was mobbed by the boys in orange, a clear display of how much the team is gelling and playing as a unit.

The game was played out with one final chance falling to Downs, but with the referee’s whistle having blown just before the shot was taken, the resultant goal did not count.

At the end of the match, manager Matt Utton said, “[It was] an awesome performance that showed great character and good solidarity amongst everyone”. With what looks like a corner having been turned, Orpington will now be looking to get further points on the table and continuing with these great performances and with a derby game against fierce rivals Green Street Green to follow, now is a real chance to show what they are capable of.

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