INSPIRED AND TIMELY SUBSTITUTION FIRES THE CROWS UP.
A brace of goals and an assist from substitute Carrington earns the Crows three points.
Tales of the unexpected at Maidstone Road.
I personally have never been to Chatham Town's Maidstone Road ground before and I was pleasantly surprised upon arrival at the stadium. It's similar to ours in the sense that the dressing room area is behind one goal and is a newish building. Then there is a small seating area on the dugout side, the dugouts being either side of the stand so they are quite a distance apart and on the opposite side there's an old stand with various types of seating, some are even padded and is where the players used to come out of I guess as there's a resemblance of a narrow type tunnel, this is the stand I decided to sit in, not on a padded seat I hasten to add.
As it turned out, the home side had a surprise up their sleeve for their own fans as well as the Crows when the team sheets were handed in. Their Secretary had obviously been busy as they had signed over the last seven days or so a plethora of players and no less than six of them were making their debuts against the Crows in this match.
One curiosity during the match was that we had to tell some of the home fans around us who their players were as they had no idea, bearing in mind of course that they were relegated last season from the old Ryman League where they had been for a while so would not necessarily know players that had been plying their trade in the SCEFL for a period of time.
One of their new signings was Stuart Zanone who was the leading scorer in the SCEFL a couple of seasons or so ago when playing for Ashford United. Therefore, you know what type of player and game it's going to be when you see his name on the team sheet as he's a handful for defenders at the best of times, he'll win his fair share of headers, will hold the ball up well and will bring other players in to play accordingly. It also means that balls will be hit up to him in a rather direct fashion and you'll have to compete with him through the duration of the game.
They also had a player with a tremendous long throw so the Crows defence, minus the ill Jack Turner, knew they'd have to be wary of giving away silly free kicks and needless corners during the game so balls in to the area were cut down to the minimum. And it has to be said that stand in centre half, Barton did a superb job against Zanone, ably supported by Boddy and White, with Ellis being a commanding figure between the sticks.
The first half will not linger in the memory too long, no one had anytime on the ball, there was very little intended passing moves as the ball was pinging from one end to the other as the players tried to gain the upper hand.
The home side with so many new players wanting to impress were definitely not going to take any prisoners and were intent to break up the Crows play however they could and to put pressure on referee Chris Price whenever the opportunity arose. Therefore, too many free kicks were awarded for both sides, yellow cards were handed out to both sides and the referee seemed to be struggling to keep on top of everything that was going on.
Whilst there were hardly any chances during the first 45 minutes the Crows did have the ball in the net after 17 minutes, McCreadie heading the ball home only to see the assistant referees flag raised and the goal being disallowed. Offside we all thought was the reason and the yellow card shown to McCreadie was for dissent, however, it turns out the assistant referee raised his flag for McCreadie handling the ball in to the net and so the yellow card was for deliberate hand ball. I personally thought he headed the ball and if it did come off his arm then it was a good spot by the assistant.
The second half was better from the start, the ball not spending so much time in the air although too many free kicks were awarded for the game to have much fluency but sometimes you have to compete and fight to win the game to get the points and this the Crows did, especially after going 1-0 down in the 62nd minute. No surprise it was from a free kick, Bradford curling the ball from 20 odd yards out around the wall and beating a static Ellis by his left hand post.
As we know from past experience going 1-0 down sometimes wakes us up and it did so on this occasion as well as the Crows stepped up their play and exerted some consistent pressure. Carrington had replaced Treleaven in the 60th minute and it was he who got the Crows back in to the game and eventually on to the road of victory.
In the 78th minute he fired the ball home from the edge of the area in to the corner of the net, Nourse in the Chatham Town having no chance to save it through a crowd of players, 1-1 and all to play for. 1-1 became 2-1 to the Crows only two minutes later, Carrington the scorer again with a shot on the half volley from just inside area and passed a crowd of players, same corner of the goal, same result, much to the annoyance of Nourse.
From here-on in the Crows largely controlled the game and kept the Chats in their own half but as full time approached, Carrington decided to go on a run dribbling the ball in to the Chats area, past one, two, three defenders before dummying another defender and lifting the ball towards the unmarked Attwood some 8 yards out for him to volley the ball past Nourse and in to the net for 3-1 in the 94th minute.
Not long after the final whistle blew and the Crows took the points home with them back to Crowborough. Personally, I felt the Crows deserved the win in the end against a tough, physical side who themselves never gave up but perhaps ran out of a bit of steam in the final 10 or 15 minutes.
I gave two Man of the Match awards for Crow players, one was James White
who looked composed, never flustered, used the ball well and always seemed to have time throughout the whole match. My other award went to Sam Carrington
for the impact he had on the game when he came on in the 60th minute, two goals and an assist in 30 odd minutes is not bad going in anyone's book.