Goals from Michael Campbell and Matty Auletta gave the first team a hard-fought 2-0 win over CB Hounslow this afternoon.
With many games falling by the wayside, the pitch at Bedfont & Feltham was in superb condition, and helped make for an enjoyable, if a little feisty, encounter.
Darren Salmon was forced into several changes, as injury and unavailability took out three of his starting back line from the previous weeks win over North Greenford Utd, with only Jeffrey Addo-Dankwa available. A quick reshuffle saw recalls to the line up for Anson Cousins and Dave Burton. Adam Allen came on for a first start, and Francois Gabbidon was back in the starting line up.
CB started brightly, and neat link up between Andrew Juett and Jack Watts in the opening minutes led to the ball reaching Billy Roach, who impressed throughout, but his shot was wide of the right hand post. On the whole though the opening period saw both sides have spells of possession, without hurting the opposition, and then gift the ball back to their opponents with a mis-placed pass.
Michael Campbell saw a free kick on eight minutes blocked behind for a corner, and as Alex Wines didn't gather cleanly, we were unable to make the most of the loose ball, with Matt Robinson firing over the crossbar.
Robinson then saw an effort well saved by Wines, after Joe Mead and Matty Auletta hard worked hard to shut down the CB defence.
On the quarter hour neat play on the left by CB eventually saw the ball into the impressive Jordan Ireland, and his fizzed ball found Rashid Obaddi wide on the right. He beat Cousins, but his dangerous ball into the area was well cleared by Burton.
CB continued to have slightly the better of things, and Addo-Dankwa did well to break up an attack and his surging run forward was ended by a foul by Stuart Bamford. From the free kick, Liam Holden saw his effort blocked and cleared.
Gabbidon had a shot from a tight angle comfortably gathered by Wines on 23 minutes, and at the other end a tidy interception from Allen prevented a dangerous ball from reaching Juett. Gabbidon and S Bamford then found themselves in the book following an altercation after a mistimed Gabbidon challenge.
Thirty minutes in and Campbell was wiped out by the CB Gabriel Chiedozie but Robinson's free kick was poor and cleared by Wines. From the break Watts found Juett who bought an excellent save out of Craig Bradshaw.
A minute later and Gavin Bamford split our backline open, finding Juett, but with Bradshaw out quickly, his shot beyond the keeper was off target, and Burton was able to complete the clearance.
Juett and Obaddi then linked up well from CB, only for another timely challenge by Burton to clear the danger. Ireland weaved passed a couple of players, before a great tackle by Addo-Dankwa put the ball out for a corner, and the big defender did really well from the corner to win a header under pressure and clear the danger.
CB were enjoying their best spell and G Bamford and 20 almost got through our backline but again good work by Addo-Dankwa cleared the danger. We broke quickly and Campbell looked to have got beyond S Bamford, only for the CB defender to recover well and block the shot.
Half time came scoreless.
CB started the second half well, and on five minutes, G Bamford did superbly to beat both Mead and Holden, but shanked his effort horribly wide of the right hand post.
On eight minutes, Auletta, who was growing into the game all time, surged beyond several would be challenges on the right, before finding S Bamford letting the ball run out, the young forward pinched the ball off him, but his low ball back to Campbell was just off target and CB cleared.
We took the lead on 56 minutes, Auletta and Gabbidon did well on the right, with Auletta picking out Campbell, he took a touch, beat a man and fired low into the bottom left hand corner for 1-0. A minute later and Gabbidon played in Auletta but his shot was high over the bar.
We were starting to string things together, and after Holden nicked the ball off Chiedozie, Gabbidon saw his shot blocked.
On the hour mark, G Bamford found Ireland, and again he looked dangerous, beating a couple of our challenges before firing wide of the right hand post.
Cousins fouled Juett on the edge of our area, giving CB a great chance to level things up, but from the free kick by Obaddi was fired into our wall and the follow up blocked and cleared.
Auletta bought a good save on 65 minutes, after neat link up play between Gabbidon and Campbell. CB started to put us under more pressure, and a dangerous delivery on the left was well cleared by Allen, with a follow up shot by Oliver Wright over the bar.
We made a double change with just over twenty minutes remaining, introducing Hamilton Antonio and Jordan Johnson-Palmer into the fray, for Gabbidon and Robinson.
Bradshaw gathered a dangerous cross from Obaddi under pressure at the back post, and at the other end Wines claimed well as Auletta looked to burst through a gap.
Our defence was holding firm against the CB balls into our area, with Allen and Addo-Dankwa dominating the aerial challenges but you got the feeling a second goal would be vital. Addo-Dankwa blocked a goalbound effort from Juett on 75 minutes, just to confirm those feelings.
Allen was replaced on 82 minutes by the combative Sam Blowers as Darren Salmon looked to tighten the game even further.
Campbell went close on 83 minutes with a spectacular volley which cannoned against the post, and as we regained possession, Meads deep cross found Johnson-Palmer and his header was turned behind by Wines.
The game was effectively sealed a minute later, when Auletta latched onto a superb reverse pass by Johnson-Palmer, beat a couple and slotted under Wines for 2-0.
Bradshaw saved comfortably from a long range strike by Roach, and we almost added another in injury time when Mead released Campbell, but his effort bought an excellent save out of Wines.
Full time came with another three points and a much better second half performance.