Match Report: Freeland 3 - 0 Chalgrove
No disgrace in defeat
Chalgrove traveled to Freeland knowing they faced a tough task, even with the confidence of last week's 5-4 win against Yarnton behind them.
The visitors were forced to make a number of changes with Skiller, Piper, Stobbs and Barlow missing.
In came full-back Tim Cox for his first start of the season at centre-half, Ollie Halliday for his first start of the season at left-back and newly-signed goalkeeper Ben Evans who was playing for 1 game in Stobbs absence. They also had Quainton playing in centre-mid despite only clocking off his night shift at 6.30am that morning!
With 3 of the back 5 in for the first time this season it was always going to be a tough game against a side who've been a top 3-4 side for the last few seasons.
Chalgrove opted to go 4-4-2 in a bid to be compact but they also brought in reserve striker Robert Cantwell to give them a target man. The visitors knowing that a) they had to be compact, b) they needed to stop Freeland playing across the back and c) they'd need to hold it up in a bid to avoid being penned in.
The plan was working ok but unfortunately Chalgrove lost Cantwell to a hamstring injury after only 20 minutes. He was replaced by Sam Drake, the two players being quite contrasting (although Drake went on to have a very good game).
As you'd expect, Freeland were looking dangerous but were finding their long-balls were being overhit and number ran out of play or through to Evans in the Chalgrove goal.
Chalgrove were looking to play through their wide players or via Cantwell in the early stages and managed to get in to a couple of decent areas but also found the final pass lacking in quality.
Freeland went ahead on around the 35th minute on what Chalgrove will feel was a sloppy goal. Evans in goal attempted to pass out to Brown at full-back but the ball went to a Freeland player and before they knew it Taylor was firing the hosts ahead.
Chalgrove responded positively, and not for the first time this season - something which has been a real positive for this young side.
Tom Clarke was unlucky to get on the end of a delightful diagonal ping from Ollie Halliday and James Quainton got in behind the Freeland defence but nobody was there to convert his ball across the face of goal.
Freeland continued to probe and had gone close on a few more occasions but failed to find a finish, fired over or saw opportunities denied by decent Chalgrove defending.
Half-Time: Freeland 1 - 0 Chalgrove
Chalgrove's team talk focussed on staying disciplined, working hard and doing the right things. We still feel we're in an extension of pre-season with players returning to fitness and a new-look squad so it's important to work on the basics.
The game continued in much the same way as the first half. The hosts were looking the more likely to score but Chalgrove were being resilient and trying to create chances through the wide play of Rolfe and Clarke and the forward play of Billingham and Drake.
Freeland continued to push and probe and got their reward after around 70 minutes when a cross found McCudden and he slotted the ball home via the post.
The hosts then put the game well beyond the reach of Chalgrove when the ball found McCudden in the box and he curled into the far corner.
Chalgrove kept their shape and kept looking to get a goal back.
They thought they had it late on when man-of-the-match Benedict Diment made his way in to the box. Tom Clarke found him with a pass and his shot was parried back out to him. He took the ball round the Freeland 'keeper but then fired over from close range!
Final Score: Freeland 3 - 0 Chalgrove.
Whilst a defeat is disappointing the player's attitude and work-rate cannot be faulted and they can take great credit from the way they applied themselves throughout the game against a good Freeland side.