Orpington were unlucky to exit the Ted Holder Trophy in the first round at the expense of a single, possibly offside, goal from Loughborough Reserves.
Manager Matt Utton once again deployed Dave Hart between the posts following his good display in the previous match and was thankful to have his regular back four intact for the first time this season. A strong midfield pairing of Haden and Facer was flanked on either wing by Akhtar and Butler, with Turner and Kendrick leading a two man attack up front.
Orpington’s previous two performances could have been considered lacklustre, but a renewed verve flowed through the team and they set about the opposition in fine form. For the most part, good passing and solid tackling was a key component of the gameplay and Orpington moved up the field at regular intervals. What was lacking was a cutting edge in the final third and Orpington will feel that they should have created more clear cut chances. Turner and Kendrick rarely had a sight of goal and Butler probably came closest with two efforts from outside of the box.
Loughborough broke the deadlock on the half hour mark. After some solid defending by Orpington a rebounding ball off of the ‘Borough midfielder found its way through to two attackers who were almost certainly in an offside position. However, the expected flag did not follow and the ball was toe poked into the far corner, with Hart unlucky not to get a hand to it. Orpington saw out the half with some further displays of great defending, but again, the attacks lacked promise. A final chance before the half time whistle allowed Haden to acrobatically attempt to force the ball past the ‘keeper, but his timing was slightly off and the chance went begging.
In the second half, Orpington did not threaten and for a team that has scored 9 goals in the last 3 matches, they looked short of ideas. The back four were put under pressure and did a great job of keeping ‘Borough at bay. Rob Utton made two goal saving tackles inside the box, first with a towering header and then a precision tackle to take the volley away from the striker. Duggan and Knott forced the wingers into awkward positions and Harry Utton provided consistent cover. However, it was Hart who perhaps protected the score line in the greatest fashion, with a phenomenal top corner save from a free kick followed by another tip over the bar from a speculative long range effort. Hart is quickly making a name for himself in goal and it will be hard to overlook him in forthcoming matches.
With moments to go, Orpington won a corner and flooded the opposition box with as much height as possible, including Matt Utton who had come on mid-way through the half for Kendrick. However, Turner chose to try and catch the opponents off guard and played a ground pass to Butler who had a split second to take a touch a send the ball towards goal. The strike sailed agonisingly wide and subsequently, after what looked like one final break for ‘Borough, the referee blew for full time.
Orpington have another chance of cup progression this weekend as they take on Fulham Spartans in the first round of the Bill Braistead Memorial Trophy. If they are able to work on their chance creation and get back to scoring freely, they have every chance of going to the next stage.