Ringmer Rovers away
It's that time of that year when I begin my match reports again without telling anyone I am writing them and then seeing how long it takes anyone to notice.
I am proud to be writing these reports as manager of a Division 3 team. While last year in Div 4, I could often write reports on a win and a number of goals scored (we scored in every game and never lost a league game by more than one), the first part of this year's journey is to record a defeat, without a goal scored. Harder to write, therefore? not really, because, whatever happens in any game this season, it should be remembered that we are playing teams like Ringmer because of the amazing collective effort of the players last year.
So first off, credit to our opponents. They did very well last year, are clearly a good team and pretty well run I would say.
For us, it is probably quite simple - Daniel Pe injured in training and could only play a small part, Billy M injury so could not play at all, Felix off at half time with an injury, Daniel Pr forced to come off with an injury, Callum the same, Billy I suffering with cramp. A 14 player squad, 13 on the day, of which 5 were hampered by injuries. By the end, there were not any midfield players in the position normally played last season. As we are stepping up a level at this early stage we are probably going to need most of the squad fit. Added to this, we had 3 players awaiting registration. In such circumstances, the massive pitch would not have helped us - I remember similar in a couple of the away games last year.
So it was soon obvious to me that today would be about who would keep going, keep heads up and if the boys would still play as a team. My memory of when the team came off at the end was that they all looked hot and tired and that was for the most part they had still tried as hard as they could, in tricky circumstances. I have seen plenty of times how hard they try and given an even hand, we will be more competitive as the season goes on.
Kaden - No chance with any of the goals, and made some fine saves, especially one he turned onto the post
Daniel Pr - Came close twice with 2 trademark runs and if either of those had gone in, especially the first, it may have been a different story. Dan is not fully fit yet, so there is more to come.
Callum - Tried to battle on when injured, it is very rare for Callum to come off, so he was plainly hampered. Tried as hard as ever.
Ben R - Had to react to our very late formation change before the start and gave it his best. Blinded me with his new white boots - perhaps we won after all!
Finlay - I would say the early success story of the season. A full game under his belt, and his reading of the game has shown a new maturity this season in training and again today
Steffan - I only dare ask Steff to play in defence in a real emergency, which is where we were today by the end. Understood the situation and gave it his all
Felix - Not match fit yet and the evident pain on his face at half time showed just how hard he had tried before coming off. Will certainly be stronger when he has recovered
Rhys - Has noticeably performed well in training and like Fin is developing his reading of the game so deservedly got a starting place
Wrighty - If he mentions Charlton beating Southend again I will leave this blank next week! Also had to move position and as always gave everything
Sam - Hard for a striker when we do not have much of the ball, so he battled as hard as he can to win it, often when outnumbered and did well
Alex - As per Sam, added to the fact he was often next to a player twice his size! Once we can get the right balls forward to our goal scoring hero, Alex will thrive as last season.
Daniel Pe - Took a bump in training, and after starting every game last year could only be a sub in this one and even then had to play out of position in the part he could manage
Billy I - Also suffering with cramp, managed to add some hold up play and strength to the front line.
Now I have re-read the above, the vast majority of the squad suffered an injury or were moved from their normal position...all against the team that finished 3rd in this division last year, and they still they gave 100%. I should be as pleased as I was at any time last year.
Thanks to Paul, Rob. Claude, Kevin and Matthew for their help over the weekend, Michelle for collecting the subs, Pete for running the line (despite him mentioning lucky Charlton as well) and to all the parents for their support as ever.