“If you don't finish your chances then the opposition will always have a chance to punish you which Alfold did clinically.”
Saturday morning at 8am I was sitting in bed having a cup of tea with my wife and eating digestive biscuit, yes that's the exciting life of a 56 year old, when my wife asked 'Are you going to football today.' She has asked me this question on numerous occasions. The fact that for the past 30 seasons (I mean years) Jill has known me I have always spent my Saturdays between the months of August and May either in football boots, or watching other men wearing them, seems to not dissuade her from asking me in the vain hope I might be available to do something else she has planned.
'Yes of course I am' I replied 'I'm going to Alfold for a cup game.' The cup game was extra information that wasn't necessary. 'Where's Alfold?' came her reply. Now this had me stumped as it's one team I had no idea where they are based and after a quick google told her they were on the outskirts of Surrey on the way to Guildford. 'Do their players come from Kent.' If the first question had me stumped, this one had me caught and bowled. 'Er.. well... no, I suspect they come from Alfold.' Another football conversation was over and they always somehow have nothing to do with football and leave me shaking my head and Jill saying 'But I thought you knew everything about football.'
I must add this is by no means a slight on womens football knowledge, as my daughter is an absolute football nut, plays a very good standard in Australia and has a 1st class degree in sports coaching and can talk football all day long.
Kev keehan our manager must have had a similar conversation with his beloved but rather than ending up in Alfold he was in New York. 'Dave, I'd rather be going to Alfold believe you me,', Kev disclosed to me 'confidentially' on Thursday. So for Kev as a weekend break destination, New York comes second to Alfold, however, he may have been thinking differently after out 1-0 loss.
At 2.50pm when I was rustling around in a thorn bush trying to get four balls that had been blasted over the fence I did wonder whether a day doing whatever Jill had intended me to do might have been a better option. The new fencing surrounding the Alfold pitch has a flaw in its design. It only has one gate at the lower end so in order to retrieve any wayward shots at the top end of the pitch you have to walk the length of the pitch in the opposite direction and circumnavigate back up the pitch outside the fence. The 'man on the gate' said 'Yeh it's a pain in the arse and a bit of a design oversight. We are going to put in a gate but it's going to cost £300.' It must be the official gate to heaven at that price.
Onto the match and we had a tough cup tie against opponents we had drawn 2-2, at the Withdean, earlier in the season in the league. We started the livelier of the two teams kicking down the slope in a bright autumn sunshine. Scott and Arnie were causing trouble down the flanks and the Alfold keeper made a great reaction save from a point blank Ollie Blackman header after a series of corners.
Alfold gradually started getting into the game and their forwards were a particular handful making some incisive runs only to be denied twice by two very good one-on-one saves from Tom Bradford. The game ebbed and flowed at quite a pace and was entertaining for the supporters to watch. Matt Waterman was being strong armed by their centre half who seemed to be getting away with a lot of physicality but this didn't deter Matt who twice found space and fizzed a couple of well driven shots just past the post.
Half time came with the scores at 0-0 with both teams having good chances Alfold having the better ones. We felt we could do a better job exposing the well drilled Alfold defensive line as we had been offside on too many occasions.
The V's took control of the second half with more possession and created at least six opportunities however a lack of decisiveness around the goal meant we failed to convert any of these chances. The most notable miss was two yard shot by Scott Packer which finished in the thorn bushes. Matt turned his centre half, who was trying to rugby tackle him to the ground, showed him a clean pair of heels and drove a beautiful ball across the goal only for Scott to somehow contrive to miss the target when he would normally be turning away celebrating. We've all missed them and it's just one of those things. Matt delivered some great corners and free kicks which both sides seemed content to watch drift through the six yard box to safety. Matt had another great chance blocked by his eager man marker when the ball looked destined for the back of the net.
Meanwhile down the other end Tom Bradford had not had one save to deal with the whole half, so you can guess what happened in the 80th minute. Alfold broke free and took advantage of some sloppy defending to set up Joao Andrade, who gleefully thumped the ball into the back of the net past Tom who didn't stand a chance. Alfold then followed this up with a couple of good efforts, one that hit the post and another cracking shot which Tom parried away, however we were throwing caution to the wind and created a couple of good chances ourselves.
The ref finally blew for a free kick in Matt's favour in the 85th minute after yet another shirt pull. Even the Alfold fans commented 'Our centre half has done well to get away with it all match' and from the ensuing free kick again the ball, like the 'snitch' from Harry Potter, evaded everyone to settle against the fence behind the goal.
There was still time for a goal line melee where the Alfold defender decided the best form of defence was to lay prostrate in front of the ball while Ollie Stevenson was doing his best to kick both ball and player over the line, only for their goalie to calmly come over and pick the it up. There was a clear case for obstruction but the V's players didn't seem to know what to decision call for.
The final whistle blew and Alfold celebrated like they had just won a cup game... well that's because they just had. It was a frustrating game to lose however Alfold are a good side and had certainly been unlucky not to have a goal advantage at half time and we wish them well in the next round. If you don't finish your chances then the opposition will always have a chance to punish you which Alfold did clinically.
As we left the pitch I asked their centre forward what part of Kent he came from, just to check, but he looked at me incredulously.
Kev said the text he received to say we had lost ruined a bus tour of New York and next year he will be booking a romantic weekend break in Alfold at the Mucky Duck Inn.
Updated 13:23 - 5 Nov 2018 by Dave Bridges