Orpington Athletic completed a league double over a side for the first time in their history this weekend, with a commanding 3-0 victory against South London Doves. In form striker, Laurence Downs, bagged a superb first-half brace, with Tom Braithwaite coming off the bench to seal the victory in the second half.
Orpington have historically fallen into the trap of assuming that they will beat an opposition if they have been victorious in a previous meeting and have subsequently lost focus and points. However, this weekend’s match up did not follow that trend and apart from an early scare from Doves, which required a rapid, low save from Matt Utton, Orpington owned the majority of the game and produced a balanced and composed display, along with some clinical finishing.
Downs’ first goal was a headed effort, following a beautifully delivered free kick by Joe Haden. Downs rose higher than the Doves’ goalkeeper and directed the ball into the back of the net. Doves spent the majority of the first half attempting to wind Orpington up with some questionable challenges and robust play, but were unable to utilise their primary target man who was well handled by the reunited centre back pairing of Austin Facer and skipper, Rob Utton.
Downs doubled his tally midway through the first half when some fantastic build up play culminated in a perfectly placed cross from winger, James Lefley. Downs was able to get the ball out of his feet quickly and slammed home the goal from a tight angle.
Orpington deservedly lead at half time and Utton made one change, bringing Braithwaite on for the impressive Dave Hart at left wing. Orpington rode their luck in the opening minutes of the second half and Doves should have halved the deficit, when a well pulled back cross fell right in front of the Doves’ attacker. However, the front man completely miscued his shot and fell over the ball, allowing Orpington to clear the danger. Orpington continued to control the game but were unlucky to lose Lefley to an injury following a bad challenge from the Doves’ full back.
The injury saw Hart return to the field and Braithwaite was able to switch over the right hand side. The switch worked perfectly and Mike Adamou picked out a cutting run from Braithwaite, who made no mistake with a well taken, left-footed volley. As the second half wore on, Orpington could have embarrassed Doves’, with Downs, Haden, Hart and Adamou all coming close with their efforts. In goal, Utton had a few hopeful, long-range shots to deal with, but the impermeable back line restricted any warranted attempts on goal. Tom Connell, at left-back, was particularly impressive, dealing with any threat from his opposing winger.
Orpington closed the game out with Dean De Cabral joining the action late on for Haden. The performance was one to herald, with defender Facer quoted saying, “That’s the best performance I’ve had with this team.” With 6 points already from their opening 3 fixtures, Orpington will hope to maintain their high levels and continue the performances over the next 7 months to ensure a positive league standing come April.
Orpington’s next match is away against AFC Coney Hall on Sunday 15th October at Norman Park. Tickets on general release.