After an encouraging cup win, Slade returned to league action, against Polegate Town, who so far have failed to add any points to their league campaign. Polegate were due to host this weekend, but with a council in the Eastbourne area actually worse than our own, meant that they were unable to fulfil the obligations. After a late switch, and some tidy work by manager Matt Hornsby, Slade were able to host the game at Buckingham Park on the outskirts of Shoreham. It has been some time since we played there, and memory fails what our recent form there, but I don’t believe it is bad. This was just about to change.
A nice flat and firm pitch, with some nice short grass which should be conducive to total football! Another solid squad, with the same 14 players confirmed for the second week running, which meant there should be nothing less than more of the same. There were a few rearrangements, with Campbell late to proceedings, which saw Hillier rewarded with a start after two great strikes on the previous weekend. No further changes.
There was a slight delay in proceedings with the diminutive referee late because of work commitments, but meant that Slade had enough time to sort themselves out, which included setting up the humongous goals! With sizeable goals on show, it was probably a good shout for loads of goals! From opening 15 minutes, Slade as ever were slow to start, but the game relatively scrappy. Unfortunately, one of Slade’s old haunt’s resulted in Slade conceding the opening goal, as a corner was headed home from 6 yards completely unmarked. GOAL 0-1. Terrible start, and once again punished at a set piece with poor organisation and discipline. Unfortunately, the opening goal was nothing more than the bursting of a dam of goals, as Slade proceeded to concede goal after goal. A second Polegate goal was the result of a high Slade line, as a through ball pierced through the defence, latched onto by the ‘Gate striker, who coolly slotted into the bottom corner. GOAL 0-2.
The goals continued to flow, with a third added inside 30 mins, as a Polegate player was afforded far too much space inside the box, who had the time and composure to pick his spot GOAL 0-3. Two further goals were added to make a relatively embarrassing half time score line as once again a Polegate player was afforded too much space, even able to juggle the ball on the edge of the box, before laying off to his team mate who proceeded to slot into the bottom corner GOAL 0-4. The first half damage was complete in almost comical fashion, as a high line was again caught out, as 3 players were played onside by a static defence, where they had enough time to play it between themselves, giving Big Bear Westgate no chance, as they made it five. GOAL 0-5.
Really there’s no need to go on any further. The Slade players were given some respite by the referee, as she blew up for half time, as the players made their way in with their tails in between their legs. It was very much a case of damage limitations, as we reset our expectations. There were some coaching points that would help us save face. For starters there was a distinct lack of oomph, which meant that we were letting ourselves down in the effort department. From a tactical stand point, we decided to drop 10 yards deeper, while requesting the wingers drop deeper in order for us to have better shape. Polegate were breaking forward in numbers, and we were fundamentally failing to deal with it, which was only made worse by a number of individual errors. Agenda for the remainder of the game? Win the second half!
The second half in summary was much improved, but still well short of our expectations. Slade were hanging onto possession better, and the shape was a lot more compact, but with 5 goals down, there was always the risk that more could come. On the other side of the pitch, we were not really threatening too much with promising possession in key areas resulting in mistakes or over hit passes. The Polegate stopper, although looking on the older side of green, was very competent and made short work of all Slade advances. There was a much more even feel to the game, with either side really threatening further, and Slade dealing with the advances of our opposition. Despite some efforts from Portuguese, Neto, where he probably could of, and should have bagged at least one, from very promising positions, but for some poor finishing. Unfortunately it would be Polegate that would finish the wounded animal off, striking late into the half, as a smart finish took a slight deflection giving Westgate little chance. GOAL 0-6. The job was complete less than 10 minutes as Polegate add a 7th (yes – seven!), in again mysterious circumstances. A combination of a poorly kept defensive line (which unfortunately was a common occurrence) and the presence of a ghost dog, which distracted Westgate, meant that a cross from the Polegate left was headed home from 6-yards with no defender in sight. GOAL 0-7.
I think the less said about this game, the better. There was a great deal of things to discuss, and fingers to point, but it is just one of those games where you a draw a line and just move on. The players will learn from this, even if it is subconsciously. One thing we have to take, is accountability. This was a strong squad, with players turned away including myself. A strong team does not immediately indicate a winning result. Hard work, discipline, and concentration are fundamentals you cannot arrive at kick off without. Let us hope that we arrive next week with all those things, as well as getting back to basics. Man of the match, always hard when the game is so one sided, but Andre Neto provided the biggest threat going forward. Although they didn’t result in goals, there was some good work leading up to those moments, and a sign that there may be some form creeping back into his game from last season.
This upcoming week, Slade continue on home league action as they entertain Ansty Sports & Social Club, a team so far with mixed results. Starting the league campaign well with some impressive results, which have tailed off in recent weeks. We managed a 1-1 draw away and a thumping 5-1 win at home against the same team in the 15-16 season, hoping the latter would reflect next weeks result.
Updated 13:26 - 17 Oct 2017 by Rob Ingham