Orpington Athletic began their season in poor fashion with a disappointing 4-1 loss to Hayward’s FC. Despite a short spell of unrelenting pressure towards the end of the first half, Orpington did not provide enough to test their opposition and Hayward’s were able to secure a comfortable victory.
Following last weekend’s pre season victory, Orpington would have felt confident in their ability to take on most teams, but began the game in a way that was all too similar to past performances. Slow and second to most balls, lacking movement when not in possession and guilty of watching each other instead of moving to create space, Orpington were undone within 3 minutes of the start. Despite the opening goal looking more like a cross that got lucky, the converter was given too much time on the ball having beaten his opposing full back far too easily. The ball floated over Matt Utton in goal and Hayward’s led.
Hayward’s doubled their lead after 25 minutes, when this time the right wing was fully exploited and the attacker somehow managed to send an out-swinging shot into the far side of Utton’s net. Hayward’s continued to apply further pressure and were awarded a controversial penalty by the referee, who had been guilty of a certain bias towards the away team. Incensed at the decision, both Matt Utton and Karl Turner were booked for their remonstrations. However, Utton saved the resultant spot kick which seemed to rev Orpington’s engine and the home team applied immediate pressure on their opponents. Hayward’s were unable to get out of their own half and Orpington had chances to come back. Rob Utton slammed a shot towards goal which cannoned off the far upright, Laurence Downs lobbed the ‘keeper and the ball was just cleared off the line and three successive corners heaped more anxiety on Hayward’s, but the storm was weathered and half time came at the wrong time for Orpington.
In the second half, Utton opted for a more conventional 4-4-2 system, pushing Harry Utton into midfield and bringing on Tom Braithwaite to partner Laurence Downs up front. The change did not produce any great improvement and the fire that was evident in the closing stages of the first half, seemed to have burned out. Orpington were once again guilty of static and uninventive play. A small chance presented itself when Joe Haden played a neat free kick inside allowing Rob Utton to take a long shot, which sailed just wide of the post. Downs, again, had an opportunity, but Hayward’s ‘keeper seemed to be consistently in the right place at the right time. To make matters worse, Braithwaite was forced off with a reoccurrence of a training ground injury, picked up earlier in the week.
Orpington were broken down twice in a short space of time, with Hayward’s firstly targeting Knott at right back allowing the rapid winger to go one on one with Utton and score, followed by a similar occurrence which resulted in the winger crossing into the box for a tap in to make it 4-0 to Hayward’s. Orpington were able to secure a consolation, when Rob Utton was fouled in the penalty area. A penalty was awarded, which Harry Utton converted with ease.
The match ended and Orpington could have little complaint about the nature of the loss, save for some suspect refereeing decisions. There will need to be a quick learning curve applied on the back of this opening result and measures put in place to ensure that the glimpses of intensity seen at the end of the first half, can be applied consistently throughout a match. Whilst this result does not constitute a disaster, it is not the way some players would have wanted to start the season and there will be individuals who will be greatly disappointed. The players will need to channel their frustration into their next performance and ensure that the season doesn’t continue with a successive loss to South London Doves on Sunday, September 17th.