PRE SEASON FRIENDLY
SEVENOAKS TOWN – 2 [Jenner 55. Hallchruch 85]
SUTTON UNITED – 4 [Bolt 30.34p. Fowler 57. Bailey 63]
Thank god thats over! No, not the game dummy. The bloody post-season!
My god it was dull. More so with the lack of any real footy action, apart from the odd England game to keep us amused in the pub. Couple this with the annual GGL ‘wall of silence’ with regards to new recruits or in fact anything whatsoever, we frankly couldn’t wait to get back to watching the action.
In fact, if we’d arranged to take on a team from the local Brownie pack, we’d have gone.
Sadly, the 7th South Sutton were busy on a nature trail this weekend, so Kent League Sevenoaks Town offered us a game instead. Oh well, beggars can’t be choosers I guess!
Chalmers, myself and the greek one ambled down to see just who we’d managed to keep hold of from last year. A quick bevvy in the town and we arrive at the ground at 5 to 3. Only to discover that they’ve already kicked off. Cheers lads.
Once we’ve found a spot behind the near goal, we’re delighted that we’re not having to play the old pre-season favourite “Name that player” (or “who the fuck is that?” as it’s also known) as the team on the field contains many familar faces. And even a couple of the ‘new’ faces are a tad familiar!
Paul Rogers is back. After much speculation, one of the best players from our recent history has finally retired from the pro game and has rejoined his old club. Good to have ya back Curly….er….Dodge….um…..
oh never mind! Also out there is Scott Forrester. Released by Boreham Wood no doubt.
The opening few minutes has both sides finding their feet on a very hard, dry, bumpy surface (apparently Sevenoaks can’t find the standpipe for the sprinklers! D’oh!) but the play is fairly good and the tempo isn’t bad. We have the first chance about 5 minutes or so in, Forrester is played in and from an angle, forces a save out of the ‘keeper at the expense of a corner. Bolt takes from the right. Gonsalves nips in at the near post having lost his man, but his thumping header is beaten away on the line by the ‘keeper.
We settle a bit more and start to take control, with the running & movement of the Forrester/Eddie partnership causing our hosts all sorts of trouble. Forrester latching onto a Bolt cross from the left to the back post and flashing a volley just wide of the upright.
The game maintains it’s tempo & pace but very little happens, with Kevin Davis (ex-K’s so we’re told) rarely called into action other than for routine matters. Our front two continue to cause problems, but it seems a goal won’t come. Then with around half an hour played, one does!
Sevenoaks fail to clear their lines and the loose ball is picked up by Akuamouah, he bursts into the box, skips past one challenge and froma tight angle, forces a block from the ‘keeper. Fortunately the ball runs back to him and hearing a call, slips it back across the box where Danny Bolt arrives and rifles it into the far corner. 1-0
A second isn’t far behind. A dreadful mix up between a defender and the ‘keeper sees the ball loose. Again, Eddie’s in like a shot, manages to get himself between the ball and the scrambling ‘keeper before being hauled down. The ref has little option but to point to the spot. Bolty steps up and despite some rather poor gamesmanship from the ‘keeper, sends him the wrong way, thumping it into the corner. 2-0
We’re now well on top and we’re looking like scoring every time we attack as the home defence loses heart a bit. Bolt is denied a hat-trick when he takes a free-kick very quickly from a good 30 yards out, trying to lob the young Sevenoaks ‘keeper. Sadly he just makes it back and tips the ball over the bar.
Overall, a pleasing 1st half. Forrester & Akuamouah looked very lively up front, Rogers was full of running despite his 38 years, Danny Dray looked solid on the right, Bolty was…..well Bolty! Great to see Hodges & Gonsalves back fit as well.
If you’re wondering why some people haven’t been mentioned (Fowler, Bailey etc) don’t worry, they’re coming up now! They’d all been milling around the ground in the first half, watching as apparently the changing rooms weren’t big enough for the 20 players we’d brought. Most of them headed in and got stripped towards the end of the first half.
The second half see’s a complete change around, with only Davis (bit worrying that, only 1 keeper available) and Akuamouah (on the left) starting. A fellow U’s fans takes delight in informing us of a huge barney in the home dressing room as he went for a whizz. Bloody hell lads, it’s only a friendly!
An early chance comes our way from a corner a couple of minutes in, the home defence again fails to clear it’s lines, the ball is played in to Fowler but his shot across goal is well held. Soon after, Bailey puts a free-kick in from the right, Fowler directing his header straight at the ‘keeper.
Just short of the hour mark, having done very little, the home side reduce the defecit. A run & high cross from our right picks out Jenner just inside the 18 yard box and he cracks a lovely volley inside the near post. To his credit, Mr Davis gets his hands to it, but can’t keep it out. 2-1
We up the tempo and we’re rewarded almost immediately. The home side’s lack of urgency in midfield again costs them. Fowler collecting a loose ball, turning and looping an instinctive 25 yard effort over a completely stranded ‘keeper. Nice! 3-1
Within 5 minutes it’s 4-1, again indecision in the home penalty area proves costly. Fowler skips past 2 challenges before having the ball nicked off his toe by a defender. He then takes a touch to control & rolls it back to his ‘keeper. We’re not 100% on the ball behind the goal and only realise his blunder when the ref awards an indirect FK for a backpass. Result!
The home team are a bit upset and their number 4 makes comments to the ref that would normally result in at least a caution if it were not a PSF. Still, it provides amusement for us behind the goal.
Fowler rolls the ball to Bailey and despite comments from the defenders on the line (Something about “Miss this and we’ll go get pissed and have a curry ginge”) he cracks a shot inside the near post, before signalling that the person who made the aforementioned comment likes Nescafe coffee. Wow! How did he know that?
The home side are now somewhat in disarray and it looks like if we keep to this tempo, a real rout could develop. Gray has a sparkling run down the touchline and then to the byeline, but his pulled back effort is cut out before it can reach Fowler. After this, we ease off the gas a little and the rout doesn’t materialise.
Within the last 10 minutes, Hamlin drives inches wide after Fowler has flicked on a throw from the left. Sevenoaks then have ther first real ‘chance’ of the match. The U’s defenders are slow to close down, but the forward drags his shot across goal and wide of the far post. Strangely, they’re awarded a corner. From which they surprise us by nicking another goal. The ball coming on from the right where it finds Hallchurch, taking advantage of some slack marking to head across Davis and inside the far post. 4-2.
We have one final chance right at the death, Bailey swinging in an inviting free-kick that Dale rises to meet, but the keeper does enough to distract him and his header loops over harmlessly.
All in all a reasonable workout. Ok, so Sevenoaks aren’t exactly going to give us the run around, but to be fair, they took it seriously and made sure the game was played at a decent tempo. From a squad point of view, very pleasing! The majority of last seasons line up have seemingly been retained (so far!) which is a relief and I’m sure we’ll see one or two more faces appear in the games to come.
Kevin Davis, Martin Dunne, Lewis Gonsalves, Danny Hodges, Danny Brooker, Danny Dray, Paul Rogers, Craig Brown, Danny Bolt, Scott Forrester, Eddie Akuamouah (No subs made)
Davis, Akuamouah, Rob(Ross?) Dale, Ryan Palmer, Sam Hewitt, Dean Hamlin, Matt Hanlan, Nick Bailey, Paul Honey, Matt Gray, Matt Fowler (Subs – Gonsalves for Akumaouah)