Saturday 16th February, yet another sunny winter’s day (what IS with this weather???) and the 2nd XI welcomed bottom of the league Lewes to Short Lane for another test of the team’s new found metal. Bar one change (the Granger returning from his tour of the Southern Hemisphere) we started with the same team that beat Eastcote 3 – 1 the week before. Targeting three points, we went into this in an upbeat mood.
Keen to make a mark on his return, Granger led the front with Rosey, pressured the Lewes defense into some basic errors and allowed us to enjoy a lot of the play. Now, this to any other team would be normal, yet for the 2s, it’s a strange phenomenon and we’re not entirely used to it. So despite all of the early possession and chances, it took us nearly 15 minutes to convert the pressure into an outcome.
Following good work down the right, the ball landed at Granger’s feet at the top of the ‘D’. His shot was saved, as was the follow up from Rosey; however with that rebound landing at Cole’s feet he calmly drag ‘scooped’ the ball over the oncoming ‘keeper and into the back of the net. Reasonable finish that as we all expected a typical wind up and ‘release of the beast’ type shot. Well done Cole.
A good start which we typically floundered a few minutes later by letting Lewes into the game, enjoy possession and pressure us in defense. Pressure which resulted in a short corner and a well converted flick into the top left corner.
Still, this 2nd XI are built of sterner stuff these days and another flowing move down our right saw Granger deliver a peach of a pass to the unmarked Rosey, right in front of the ‘keeper. A deft touch from the youngster down his right foot with back to goal deflected the ball into the opposite corner. Beautiful. 2-1 and half time.
We kept things the same in the 2nd half and continued to enjoy the majority of the play but in an unfamiliar situation we found ourselves stretched as fitness came into the fray. And with stretched play came desperate defending as we were always vulnerable on the break. More on that in a bit.
Fine moves from the midfield through Cole, Smart, Harry and the outside halves gave Rosey and Granger some great chances upfront and if it wasn’t for a string of saves from the Lewes ‘keeper this could have been a cricket score.
We scored our 3rd around fifteen minutes into the half when Granger scored the first of his brace with a delightful reverse stick hit across the ‘D’. 3 – 1.
And with that we started to take our foot off the gas as the 3 points felt comfortably within our grasp. Of course, that meant Lewes attacked more and we defended more. Something we’re all too familiar with this year. Desperate tackles to break up Lewes play saw Harry receive a yellow and then, to make it worse, Granger was given a yellow for dissent. Who said we didn’t like to make it interesting?!
Lewes scored from another short corner (it was a bit of a mess and doesn’t really deserve comment so we’ll leave it at that) but shortly after returning to full strength, we grabbed a fourth through Granger again. Another well worked move from the right (whatever happened to our left?) saw yet another reverse stick hit bouncing off the backboard much to our delight.
With 10 minutes left, there was still time for us to create a bounty of chances (and we really should have scored more) but things were levelled by the umpires after 2 Lewes players were yellowed for persistent bad tackles. They were fortunate not to have a third dismissed with 2 minutes left after another quick break from Ashford. Common sense finally prevailing in the umpires minds.
The game ended, we achieved 3 points, goals and most impressively for the first time this season back-to-back wins. We creep closer to safety but with Canterbury winning and Eastcote drawing we stay in the same perilous position. Now though, we are buoyed by confidence and form.
Things could, just could, be looking up for us as we approach the season run-in.
Well done boys, proud of you this week.
The 2s travel to mid-table London Wayfarers on Saturday as one of the in-form teams of the league.