Orpington suffered a setback with a second successive loss to league leaders, Hayward’s. Despite goals from Mike Adamou and Karl Turner, missed opportunities and defensive errors cost the team and another 3 points.
With player/manager, Matt Utton taking a step back from the field and directly managing from the side-lines, Dave Hart made his debut in goal. With the recognised back four once again missing key players, Utton was forced into changes at both left and right back, with Calum Jamieson and Nick Sims making their first starts of the season.
A cagey start from both teams saw most of the play concentrated in the middle of the field, with sporadic breakaways that resulted in little more than half chances for both sides. Orpington conceded an early penalty when Harry Utton tangled his legs around the Hayward’s striker, however the resulting spot kick was well saved by Hart. Orpington should have pushed on from this, however the resulting few attacks were spurned and it was Hayward’s who seized the initiative on the half hour mark with a deflected goal.
Hayward’s struck again before half time following a hesitation to meet the ball by Jamieson, allowing the winger to break down the right side, dodge a tackle from Facer and slam home from 10 yards.
At half time, Utton was forced into a change and Facer, having pulled up with a muscle strain, was replaced by Mogridge. Orpington looked to secure a stranglehold on the game and started the second half brightly, but it was Hayward’s once again who broke on the wing and were able to find their third goal of the match. Determination seemed to be ebbing away from the home team, with less than half the contingent showing belief that there was a way back into the match. Mogridge left the field with an injury and Facer was forced back on to cover. Orpington pulled one goal back following a Hayward’s corner, seeing Rob Utton push the team rapidly up the field and play the ball forward to Haden. Despite Haden’s shot being saved by the ‘keeper, Adamou had followed in and was able to slot home the rebound. A spark ignited in the team and they tried to capitalise, but Hayward’s were rewarded again in the box when Jamieson failed to get tight enough to his man and put a tackle in. The Hayward’s striker rounded him comfortably and scored his team’s fourth.
With Utton trying his hardest to push his team forward from the side-lines, Orpington pressed high up the field for the last 10 minutes, however chances went begging, shots were taken when passes were on and passes were made that lacked conviction. Turner secured one last consolation when his free kick from distance eluded everyone in the box and beat the ‘keeper at his far post. However, it was too little, too late and Orpington trudged off.
Despite Orpington’s new found scoring prowess (they now have 13 goals in the last 4 games), the last 3 matches have conceded 10 goals and whilst this could be attributed to the consistent back four not having played a full match together this season, there will need to be a strong focus on defensive duties for all players as they prepare for two successive cup fixtures, starting with Loughborough Reserves this weekend.