Strong second-half performance not enough to prevent narrow defeat
Kemsing Utd 3-2 Potters FC
Title-chasing Kemsing United recorded a narrow 3-2 victory in the Sevenoaks & District Premier Division on a cold, rainy, windswept afternoon on the side of the North Downs, in a game that the home-side dominated for large spells, albeit with Potters putting up a better fight in the second-half.
Second-placed Kemsing showed their class from the start, strong at the back, and quick and dangerous going forward. Very little of their play came through the midfield, with the long, diagonal ball approach used 95% of the time, but their movement was quick, their first touch was good, and their long-ball's into the channels caused problems as their quick front-men looked to breach the Potters defence.
The deadlock was broken on 11mins, albeit somewhat fortuitously as a loose ball in the box was bounced on by Potters' 'keeper Max Bridges under pressure, only for the ball to slip out of his grasp on the rain-sodden surface, and Kemsing reacted quickest to slam the loose ball into the back of the net and take a 1-0 lead.
As the first-half went on, Potters were containing Kemsing well with Liam Turner and Mark Weller in particular standing out at the back for the visitors, but they were kept busy as the home-side continued to pump long balls over the top in the direction of their pacy forward pairing.
Potters carved out a few openings themselves, with an over-hit final ball letting their attacks down on a number of occasions, although they could have equalized on the half-hour mark as a lovely looping cross from Fergus Farmer was met at the back post by strike-partner Craig Roxburgh, but Roxburgh could only volley across the face of goal, despite making a good connection with the ball.
Instead it was Kemsing who got the second goal of the game, but again it was in somewhat fortuitous circumstances as the referee awarded the home side a penalty five minutes before the break; Another long-ball into the box was met by Potters centre-half Joe Jarmyn just inside his own area, with Jarmyn volleying the ball away, but his volley striking his arm after coming off his boot, despite his arms being down by his side.
Although completely accidental, the official decided to award a spot-kick which was just tucked into the bottom corner, despite Max Bridges diving the right way and getting fingertips to the ball.
Potters Manager Henry Willard made two bold changes at half-time, bringing both of his two available substitutes into the fold on both wings. Glenn Bunn and Adam Roxburgh were the two unfortunate faces to make way, both of whom had worked tirelessly in the first-half, but with Kemsing's main threat coming in the form of their long, diagonal balls, Harry Paternoster and Stuart Stone were introduced to freshen things up and get two pairs of fresh legs in the most dangerous areas.
Potters arguably started the second-half the stronger side, showing more purpose in their passing and looking more threatening going forward, with the two substitutes both making immediate impacts and Tim Stephenson and Connor Jeffery in the centre of midfield both starting to compete more.
As they had done for the bulk of the first-half, Potters were dealing with Kemsing's constant threat on the break, and pulled a goal back for themselves just after the hour mark through Craig Roxburgh.
Some good hold-up play from Stuart Stone on the left wing saw the Scotsman play in Connor Jeffery, who in turn sent a looping ball to the back-post where Roxburgh was on-hand to gently head the ball over the line for his tenth goal of the season. 1-2, and game on.
It had been a more positive start to the second-half for Potters, but as the minutes ticked by, Kemsing slowly began to see more of the ball again.
Potters had a good chance on 75 minutes through Fergus Farmer who shot just wide with a rasping shot, but Kemsing restored their two-goal cushion with just under 10 minutes remaining.
Shortly after striking the top of the crossbar, Kemsing's striker was given time to bring the ball down 25yrds out in the 83rd minute, and without being closed down quick enough, struck an unstoppable effort into the roof of the net to make it 1-3.
None of Kemsing's three goals had come from any particular good build-up play from the home side, but on the basis of play they probably deserved their lead, generally looking sharper and quicker in their thinking and ability to move the ball.
The 90th minute was fast approaching, but Potters to their credit continued to battle to the end. Olly Hayward who was playing as a makeshift right back had a good effort on goal just before stoppage time, but then went one better and found the back of the net with literally the last kick of the game in the fourth minute of injury time, after some frantic play in the Kemsing box following a corner saw Hayward fire the ball into the bottom corner after being set up by Joe Jarmyn, with Hayward bagging only his third ever Potters goal since joining the club back in 2010.
There was no time for the restart to be taken as the referee signaled the end of the game following Hayward's consolation, and Potters slipped to another narrow defeat, despite putting in a better display in the second-half against a Kemsing side who will most certainly be there or there about's at the top of the table come May, and the side probably the most likely to challenge Sutton for the Premier Division title.
Next up is a huge game, and one that could be possibly billed as a six-pointer as Potters return to Potters Mede to take on fellow mid-table masters, St.Lawrence.
With gaps now starting to open up in the league table, Potters ideally need to get another three points on the board sooner rather than later to ensure they maintain a safe distance from the teams below them, yet only a few points behind and with games in hand.