The V's lose their first league game
Steyning score a late winner
I was chatting to my old mate 'Woody'at half-time, the former Steyning Town chairman who is still heavily involved in the club, and he said 'Whenever a team loses they never write a match report.' Well we lost our first league game of the season and here is the report especially for you Woody. Incidentally he played for the V's back in the days of silky shorts and baggy shirts and was a mercurial midfielder with lots of skill but absolutely no pace.
I was really looking forward to this game as we had watched Steyning Town a couple of times in the last two weeks with a notable win over Premier opponents Eastbourne Town in the cup. They had proved to be a good footballing side, however they came to the Withdean with another game plan which was to frustrate us and hit long balls up to their talented forward Dominik Ozga. Although not pretty over the 90 minutes it was a tactic that resulted in them taking all three points, with a well taken header from a free kick in the last minute.
The first 25 minutes it is fair to say was dominated by the Vs and we looked the more likely to score with effective passing football which resulted in a period of 6 corners in as many minutes, however the Steyning Town defence, which has only conceded 6 goals so far this season proved resolute and the ball didn't fall to our forwards. Dom Hemblade was causing the Steyning Town right back a few problems and delivered some good crosses into the box but again the defence cleared everything that was thrown at them. Upfront Ozga for Steyning was doing a good job with his chest laying off passes but the V's defence looked comfortable marshalled by Andy Pearson. The game began to even out as Steyning had more possession and with their midfielders beginning to get involved they began to get into the game and in the last 10 minutes showed glimpses of what we had witnessed on our 'scouting mission.' Credit to the Steyning management as they changed formation from wing backs to a back four which proved more effective.
Woody and I had a chat at half time, while he eat most of the sandwiches, 'I don't eat bread in the week.' Well he was certainly making up for it but he did resist the lovely sponge cake Jane had made.
The second half proved to be a stalemate until the last minute as both teams struggled to find any rhythm, both teams began to knock long balls to no avail and the amount of free kicks seemed to increase. In one magic moment of the match the Steyning goalie, who seemed to pride himself on kicking the ball as far as possible, kicked the ball the length of the pitch to our goalie. It was the first real attempt on goal! I can only remember one proper effort, which was a warning of things to come, a downward header from the Steyning centre half from a well taken free kick from which Tom Bradford made a sharp save down to his left by the post. The Vs did try to get the ball down and with the best move of the half where we strung together 7 passes we actually had a shot on goal only for it to be blocked so no real threat.
In my programme notes I had written about game management in the last 5 minutes.... I knew I shouldn't have done that. Woody came over to stand next to me and Steve Matthews, our vice chairman, just as another free kick was given by the touchline. Kev Keehan said 'The lad went down without being touched.' I said to Woody 'Hmm this looks dangerous you nearly scored with the last one from the same position.' Prescient words indeed. Ball crossed, solid header down... goal! Woody did well to celebrate in such a restrained way but went off down the running track at a pace he never seemed to achieve playing for the V's, punching the air.
With the clock ticking this galvanised the V's into another gear and we began to look dangerous but the Steyning defence held firm. It was a disappointing way to lose our unbeaten record but good luck to Steyning they are a solid outfit, well organised and their game plan worked. I think both teams would have settled for a draw but that's football. Hopefully when we play them away and on their 3G there will be more football played on the pitch. As Brian Clough said 'If God had wanted us to play football in the clouds, he'd have put grass up there.'
We have a match tonight at the Withdean against Littlehampton Town in the second round of the Sussex Senior Cup. 7.15 kick off. So get you coats and gloves on and come down for a bit of floodlit football.