Orpington Athletic manager, Matt Utton, rang in the changes at the weekend and fielded a changed side in an attempt to galvanise an attacking flair from his players. Whilst the attacking changes worked, a few defensive mistakes left the team enduring a 6-4 loss to league opponents, Inter Cross.
Orpington came into this match on the back of a humiliating defeat by Green Street Green in their previous match. Utton opted to deploy skipper, Rob Utton at left wing, moved Tom Braithwaite into central midfield and readied Mike Adamou on the bench for a debut in the number 9 slot.
Inter Cross broke early on 2 occasions, both of which were against the run of play, and were able to capitalise on a slightly disjointed back 4. An early 2-0 advantage for Inter seemed to suggest the worst, but Orpington continued to dominate large spells of possession and after a corner was well won by Downs, attacking from the right, Orpington were able to halve the deficit from the set piece. Akhtar delivered a dangerous ball into the box and Harry Utton was able to bullet his shot into the roof of the net, bringing the score back to 2-1.
Orpington continued to attack with purpose, this time Haden latching onto a poor piece of play by Inter’s central defender. With great technique, Haden rounded the ‘keeper and turned back on the defender, delivering a low ground cross into the box, which Rob Utton instinctively stabbed home to bring the scores level.
Orpington had further chances in the half with Hart, Braithwaite and Downs all coming close. However, Inter finished the half off with a lead when a slip in the defence lead to a third for the men in blue.
At half time, Utton made a like-for-like sub, with Adamou coming on to test his metal in the central striking role. Adamou almost made an immediate impact in the box, turning the defender inside out and seeing a curled shot just tipped onto the upright. Once again, however, Inter broke with long balls over the top and put away a fourth and a fifth in quick succession.
Towards the final third of the match, Inter Cross were reduced to 10 men, following an altercation which the referee deemed as violent conduct. Orpington took the opportunity to salvage the match and Adamou proved his worth, first with a fine effort into the far corner, followed by a second from the penalty spot, following an Inter hand-ball.
With only one goal separating the teams, Orpington had 3 minutes to draw level, but were caught out after a fine save from Matt Utton fell kindly to the Inter midfielder. With Utton well off his line, a speculative shot was converted and Inter restored a two goal cushion.
Orpington showed a lot more in attack that they have done in recent weeks and managed to increase their goal tally following the change in positions. Now comes the task of tightening up the defensive line and driving forward to the end of the season, hopefully finding the net on a more regular basis.
Orpington return home next Sunday when they take on Inter Cross again in Division 3.