Goals from Rob Utton and Dave Martin, either side of a brace from Calum Jamieson saw Orpington Athletic produce a remarkable turnaround as they beat Inter Cross 4-3 at home.
Orpington were able to field an almost unchanged side from the one that started against Elmstead Strollers the previous week, with only Haden coming in up front for the injured Turner and Butler replacing Akhtar in the midfield. Orpington were keen to build on the positive performance from a week ago and started brightly, with some neat passing play and stoic defending. However, a sloppy, early goal was conceded from a throw in as the Inter Cross attacker got between the two centre backs and headed into the net.
Inter scored a second soon after as the Orpington midfield were caught high up the park and a simple through ball put the striker one on one with ‘keeper, Matt Utton. The striker scored and Orpington looked like they could be in trouble. A few minutes later, Inter threatened the box again and the referee awarded a soft penalty for a push in the back by Rob Utton. The resultant penalty was well taken and put away and Orpington may have felt they were on the ropes. However, Orpington have found a never say die attitude in recent times and they reset themselves and got to work rectifying the situation.
Following a break out of defence, Orpington were awarded a free kick, 35 yards from goal and Harry Utton stepped up to take it. The ‘keeper was clearly not expecting the vicious shot that followed and could only parry the ball into the path of Rob Utton who made no mistake from 10 yards out. It wasn’t long before Utton was high up the pitch again, this time paying Haden clean through on goal, but the stand-in striker was unable to convert, seeing both his first and second attempts saved by Inter’s ‘keeper. Rob Utton had one last attempt before the end of the half and wrapped a fierce left footed free kick towards the goal which was only just reached by the fist of the ‘keeper. Controversy may have ensued as the referee made a questionable call to blow the half time whistle as the ball was in flight towards the goal. However, half time arrived with Inter still holding their 2 goal advantage.
Manager, Matt Utton made four changes at half time and switched to a regular 4-4-2 formation, with the midfield a wholesale change. Orpington looked focused as the second half began and started the game well. Pressing high up the field, Orpington were able to pressure Inter into backing off allowing Jamieson to dribble the ball in from the wing and launch a speculative lob from 25 yards. The substitute ‘keeper could not deal with the ball and it drifted over his fingertips and into the net. Orpington were on top and were driven to get the equaliser and it was Jamieson again who made a great solo run down the right hand side, beat his full back and cut in to thump home his second and Orpington’s third. A great recovery and a clear indication of the strength and resilience in the team.
Haden spurned one final opportunity in front of goal before being substituted, but it was to be the powerhouse midfielder Dave Martin who took Orpington into a deserved lead with 12 minutes to go. Having spent the majority of the game intercepting Inter’s attempted opportunities and winning the ball in key areas, Martin was afforded an opportunity to drive forward, steam rolling through two players before finally thumping his shot into the back of the goal, the ‘keeper left stranded.
The game played out with Orpington continuing to dominate and chances to further the lead were consistently created. At the final whistle Inter's anger at having conceded a 3 goal lead was evident and they were embroiled in a fist fight, but Orpington came off with heads held high after a fantastic second half performance. Man of the match, Dave Martin said, “great comeback [and] great shift from every person”.
Orpington will now look to finish their pre-season preparations in strong fashion, with a final home friendly against league rivals Green Street Green on Sunday 28th August.