A commanding first half performance with goals from Zubair Akhtar and Rob Utton was thrown away as Orpington conceded four second half goals against South London Doves.
Coming off the back of a good performance the previous weekend, Orpington were looking to build further momentum in a fixture they drew last season. The team started brightly and were very quickly in control of the match. Short, sharp passing was matched with good movement and communication and within 10 minutes the team linked up well, culminating in Adamou playing an accurate through ball into the path of Akhtar who supplied a composed finish. Orpington continued to press, forcing South London Doves to defend deeply and the pressure paid off when a resultant corner was converted at the near post by the head of captain, Rob Utton.
Orpington controlled the half and should have furthered their lead on multiple occasions. Once again involved in the build-up, Adamou played another great pass through to Turner who, one on one with the ‘keeper, spurned one of the best chances in the match, shooting directly at the shot-stopper. Harry Utton was unlucky not to increase the lead when a well taken free kick was saved by the ‘keeper at full stretch and Tom Butler had an equally good opportunity only to see his shot scuff along the ground.
A strange decision at half time saw Utton make two changes to his line-up, replacing the entire right side; Hart for Turner and Jamieson for Sims. The old adage of not making changes to a winning formula was very much evident as the second half began and the shift in personnel clearly disrupted the flow of the game. Doves scored early on with a mix up at the back involving the freshly substituted Jamieson and stalwart Harry Utton. Doves then equalised a few moments later when they caught Orpington napping at the expectation of a throw in. Breaking down the right, a cross found its way to the edge of the box and the Doves midfielder was able to shape his body and place the ball right down the centre of the goal and with Utton out of position, the save was unable to be made.
Tempers began to flare on the pitch and multiple tackles were punished by referee, Philip Anderson. Doves were lucky not to see more forceful action and after a couple of yellow cards, tackles calmed. Harry Utton had another chance to score when a replication of his free kick in the first half was saved once again by the elongated ‘keeper. However, after further knee-jerk substitutions by Orpington in an attempt to regain control of the match, it was Doves who scored their third and fourth. Orpington spurned further golden opportunities to score themselves with Rob Utton first playing in Hart with a long throw, only to see the midfielder skew the ball wide of an open goal followed by a further long pass from Utton which set Akhtar free, the striker shooting wide of the mark.
Orpington saw out the final 10 minutes of the match, looking very disjointed and clearly wound up by the surrender of their lead. It was a harsh lesson to be learned that controlling the game once leading is paramount to the retention of a result. However, Orpington have a chance for immediate redemption this coming weekend, as Doves visit the men in black and red at St Mary Cray Recreation Ground, kick off 10:30 on Sunday.