In a game that had the potential to be a lot closer, Orpington Athletic fell victim to their own lack of effort, and deservedly lost their first round tie 5-0 to a Petts Wood team that didn’t need to reach top gear to achieve the win.
Orpington were incredibly unlucky to walk away with a loss last weekend, and manager Matt Utton, confident in his new 5-3-2 formation, set the team up in virtually the same way to face Petts Wood Hawks. It was clear from the outset that the aim was to absorb any pressure from the Hawks and attempt to break away when the opportunity arose.
Petts Wood started the game well and attacked early down the right hand side. A whipped ball, which should have been dealt with a lot better, was crossed in and flicked off of the head of the Hawks’ attacker, somehow curling away to the far post, which assisted its eventual placement in the back of the net.
It seemed immediately to have an effect on the Orpington players, and Petts Wood settled into their own tempo, controlling the game for long spells. Orpington were further disappointed when an injury to Haden forced him off the pitch after just 20 minutes, seeing Blower come on to replace him.
A good chance fell to Downs who, encouraged by his team mates, shot just wide of the far post.
A few half chances were created by Orpington when they pushed up the field, and seemed most dangerous pushing down the left side. Akhtar was able to play a good through ball for Rob Utton to run onto, only to see him squander his cross after the ball bobbled up off the uneven surface.
A similar move moments later saw Utton deliver a cross and a corner forced, but the subsequent delivery of the corner was wasted and Orpington were once again on the defensive. Hawks broke, again down the right hand side, and left the Orpington defence for dead, who had stopped, protesting for an offside. A prime example of not “playing to the whistle”, and Hawks punished the team by slotting away a simple second.
Half time was a chance for the team to regroup and the manager decided to alter the formation to produce a more attacking display in the second half. 4-4-2, which had been used to good effect in pre-season, was implemented, with Rob Utton moving to left wing and Akhtar taking up the right hand side. Turner was also brought on to replace McIllmurray, who had had a frustrating half and very little time on the ball.
However, Orpington did not shut down their opposition early enough and Hawks’ third goal came in the form of a goal mouth scramble. Matt Utton made two tremendous saves to try and keep the ball out, but was eventually beaten and Orpington’s heads sunk further.
The rest of the game was very much on Petts Wood’s terms with free flowing attacks culminating in multiple chances. The crossbar was rattled shortly before a quick burst from number 15 was finished off with a powerful shot into the back of the net. 4-0.
Orpington had definitely conceded, and despite some fight shown from a few team members, the game was lost. This was finally evidenced when a short corner by Hawks was not picked up and a driven cross into the box was guided in off the head of a Hawks midfielder, the Orpington defence rooted to the spot.
The last moments of the match saw a couple of chances present themselves. Turner shot wide from range and Rob Utton provided a well weighted ball over the top for Mogridge, on for White, to run onto, only to be just beaten to the ball by the ‘keeper.
Orpington trudged off at the final whistle, well beaten, but will need to take stock of their performance against a team that they still have to face twice in the league this season. Whilst hopes of a cup run have been limited, perhaps the players will come back fighting in the Bill Braistead Memorial Trophy, next weekend.
Orpington’s next fixture will be against F.C.Bellingham on Sunday 11th October, away at Forster Memorial Park, kick off 10:30.