Blues harshly punished for lapses
The Blues will certainly look back on this game as one which they should at least have drawn. They dominated for long periods and created by far the majority of the goal-scoring opportunities. They were guilty, however, of poor defending at set-piece
Going into the game off the back of an unbeaten four-game start, the Blues had reasonable grounds for optimism even though they were without the services of in-form striker, Ben Ward-Cochrane, who had picked up a painful foot injury in Saturday’s FA Cup victory over Tilbury, in which he scored twice.
They started brightly and inside the first minute or so they had forced two corners following a George Lutaaya shot having been well-saved. Further pressure followed with George Lutaaya causing the Abbey problems down their left flank. A superb cross from him in the eighth minute narrowly failed to find the lunging foot of David Keenleyside and Ollie Sharman’s header from a further corner soon after, was brought out another good save from the home keeper.
When David Keenleyside’s shot on the break in the 18th minute was saved, the Blues appeared to be well in control but slack marking at a short corner was to turn the game on its head only a minute later. The hosts’ Billy Holland scored the first of his two goals when he stole in at the near post to nick the ball past a despairing Charlie Mann to put the Abbey into the lead.
The Blues hit back immediately and further chances fell to Jason Beck, Tommy Wade and David Keenleyside before the Abbey struck again to double their lead in the 38th minute through full-back Timothy Ogunrinde – again from a short corner that had caught the Blues off guard.
Undismayed by this further setback, the Blues came back strongly and placing more pressure on the home but, just as it seemed they might go in at the break still two behind, Tommy Wade scored his fifth goal of the campaign to reduce the deficit to a single goal. George Lutaaya’s ball into the box had caused chaos and Tommy took advantage when the ball fell to him by drilling it into the net from ten yards.
The opening quarter of an hour of the second half saw the Blues camped in their opponents’ half with opportunities falling to Tommy Wade (twice), Charlie Ruff and George Lutaaya but none were taken and was perhaps typical of the way the game was going that the Abbey added a third from their first serious attack of the half. Once again it came from a corner with Billy Holland stabbing home from the edge of the six-yard box.
The Blues needed a quick response and the got it within the space of a couple of minutes. David Keenleyside exchanged passes with Tommy Wade on the edge of the Abbey box in the 64th minute and drove the ball low into the goal, off the inside of a post to bring the score back to 3-2.
The remainder of the game saw the Blues pressing forward in search of an equaliser but, despite their best efforts, solid defending from the hosts enabled them to hold out for a hard-earned victory.
Team:, Charlie Mann, Joe Clemo, Macauley Joynes, George Beattie, Jason Beck, Ollie Sharman, David Keenleyside (86’), George Lutaaya, Tommy Wade, Charlie Ruff, and Michael Toner (Chikosi Basden 67’),.
Subs not used: Dan Palmer, Mark Twumasi, Todd Brownson and Tyler Hatherly.