V's win away 3-1 at Midhurst & Easebourne FC to remain top of the league
V's battle for victory against an unlucky Midhurst side
On a day that seemed more like mid June than mid October we set off from Brighton and had a very pleasant drive through the Sussex countryside past Cowdry Park and into Midhurst & Easebournes ground. The entrance turn is like a hairpin at Monaco and 5 manoeuvres later we passed the chalkboard match sign (spelt wrong 'Varndenians' but to be fair it took me a while to master the spelling) and entered the ground past 'Ted's hut' manned by a man not called Ted. The last time I played here was 1989 and not a lot has changed apart from 60k worth of floodlights however the drawings for the new changing room complex look impressive.
We have had a solid start to the season and with Midhurst near the bottom we could well have anticipated a comfortable 3 points but as we all know you can take nothing for granted in football. After 15 minutes of play it became apparent we were in for a tight contest as Midhurst, playing a 4-2-4 formation, played quite directly, but effectively, to their forwards who were a handful. This stopped us playing out of defence and we got caught between trying to play a passing game and also trying to play more directly to Matt Waterman up front who was cutting a lonely figure. We consequently gave a way possession and looked disjointed.
Midhurst's early pressure resulted in a shot that hit the inside of the post and so it was against the run of play that Dom Hemblade, who was proving our most effective outlet on the left wing, struck a lovely cross to Scott packer who did well to send a looping header back over the Midhurst goalie.
With the V's still struggling to find a rhythm Midhurst got the goal that they had been threatening, from a well worked free kick hit on the volley by Liam Dreckmann at the near post and then followed this up with a couple of headers that on another day would have found the back of the net and a one-on-one foiled by our goalie Tom Bradford. The V's were fortunate to be 1-1 at half time but had done well to grind out the half.
With a stern word from Manager Kev Keehan the tempo of the V's improved second half , the passing was a lot more accurate and incisive however Midhurst with the experienced Gary Norgate and Jake Goulding up front always provided a threat and so it proved as Ollie Blackman wrestled the Midhurst number 9 to the ground on the edge of the area and gave the ref no option but to show him a straight red. The Midhurst players were calling for a penalty but the ref said despite the player finally being flattened in the area the incident started outside the area. Their was the usual argie bargie about what was 10 yards and Ryan Storrie tried to convince the ref to bring the wall forward by making 10 steps which would have resulted in our wall being about 5 yards away. The wall did it's job and blocked the free kick and from the resulting breakaway Dom Hemblade rode a tackle, where most would have fallen over, ran directly at the last Midhurst defender slipped the ball to Matt Waterman who duly despatched his trademark left foot shot into the corner of the goal for 2-1.
Going down to 10 men seemed to invigorate the V's as everyone put in more effort than when we had eleven players on the pitch which culminated in us playing better. The defence held firm with Luke Akehurst playing particularly well. Having scored a goal Matt Waterman also seemed to wake up from the slumber he had been in the first half and produce a fine finish with the outside of his boot for his 20th goal of the season and our third. Tom Bradford still had time to save another one-on-one as Midhurst continued to find a way back into the game.
All the V's subs came on with a debut for Luke Manley and we saw the result out. It certainly wasn't a throughly deserved victory but we were grateful for the three points against a Midhurst team that will cause many a team a problem in this league.
The highlight or you could say brightlight were Kev Keehan's new trainers which were whiter than white. Ryan Storrie fresh or rather unfresh from a foam party in Ibiza had managed to forget one of his boots and so had to borrow Kev's who then stood on the touchline with his spanking new primark trainers dazzling all who looked at them.