Much depleted Scholars put up a solid first half showing to go into half time equal but after the break could not match this season's early season pacesetters, as The Urchins extended their winning run to 7 games with a hard fought 2-1 win.
As the game began so did the predicted rain which lashed down for much of the half. The visitors George Purcell had the shot of the match, sending his effort past the far post giving the scholars an early warning and soon afterwards in the 7th minute as the urchins attacked down the left the ball was played into the middle where the home defenders had dropped too deep, allowing Theo Fairweather-Johnson, on the edge of the penalty area, to turn and volley past home keeper Berkley Laurencin.
The scholars then went close as Andy Lomas’s cross was met by top scorer Eion Casey but his header flew wide. Max Holland making his first appearance of the season fired in a shot that was blocked by the visitors.
The home team then took control, Michael Murray’s 18th minute free kick took a deflection around the post for the first of two successive corners, and from the second of these, Billy Adcock fed Billy Lobjoit who saw his effort go wide of the target.
The visitors were always dangerous on the break and after 23 minutes George Purcell ran in from the left but he put his shot over the crossbar. So far visitor’s keeper Sam Mott had not been called upon to make a save, but suddenly that changed when diving to his left to tip a free kick from Casey to safety.
But then as the game moved towards the interval the hosts drew level. A quick interchange of play on the left saw Andy Lomas’s cross pick out Eion Casey who planted an accurate header past the stranded keeper from close range.
The rain stopped at half time and maybe the home team too, and as the second half started in sunshine, but it was the visitors who came out the sharper giving the home defense a busy 45 minutes.
First The Urchins McKenzie and then Fairweather-Johnson had shot blocked and soon afterwards in the 53rd minute as the scholars lost possession to easily in the opponents half Warner accurate forward pass deep into the heart of the scholars defense saw Leon McKenzie make a blind side run to get in behind Chris Doyle and his hard driven shot from outside the area hit the net to give the visitors a lead they never looked like losing.
The only effort the hosts could muster in the second half came in the 70th minute when Billy Lobjoit turned in the midfield and fed Eion Casey with a pass that saw him in sight of the goal, but his powerful effort was well blocked by the Urchins keeper and scrambled for a corner.
At the other end a long range effort was turned out for a corner by Berkeley Laurencin, Purcell had a shot tipped over the bar, and Nathan Cooper saw the same happen. As the game entered the last 10 minutes Fairweather-Johnson moved on to a cross and his hooked shot skimmed the bar.
The visitors thought they had extended their lead when a free kick played into the box was dropped by Laurencin over the line but the referee deemed a foul on the keeper. The as the game moved into injury time Billy Baird was lucky to escape only a yellow card when he scythed his opponent down when through wide on goal, but as the scholars frustrations grew several players saw yellow whilst Billy Lobjoit, in strange circumstances saw a straight red
So the Urchins extend their winning run and after their second half performance look the ‘team to beat’ in the division. But with a severely depleted line and several key players missing through injury and unavailability the scholars team can take some consolation after their first half showing but need to improve on concentration to help them grow as a team.
Scorers – Fairweather-Johnson 7 (H) – Casey 44 (P) – McKenzie 50 (H)
MoM: Chris Doyle
Team: Berkley Laurencin, Billy Baird, Andy Lomas, Billy Lobjoit, Nick Turner, Chris Doyle, Eion Casey, Billy Adcock, Michael Murray (sub Romario Miles-Martin 88m), George Nicholas, Max Holland (sub Danny Hart 78m)
Not Used: Femi Ogunsola, David Sota
Updated 10:27 - 6 Feb 2018 by Steve Ringrose