Campbell puts Greenford to the sword
The first team picked up a vital three points on Saturday with a hard fought victory over a good North Greenford Utd side.
It was a strange day for football, the BT guys were in and working around the game, as they set up for the Sutton Utd fixture on the Sunday, the game started in glorious sunshine, was subjected to a fierce hailstorm for ten minutes, and ended in sunshine.
Darren Salmon made several changes from the side that lost at Horley in the previous game, and handed starts to Ross Bedding and Hamilton Antonio, with a debut for defender Jeffrey Addo-Dankwa. Liam Holden dropped to the bench, with both Elton Gjoni and Jordan Johnson-Palmer omitted from the squad.
The visitors started brightly and in the opening minute a great ball by Kamal Akel over the top of Bedding found the speedy Josh Lewis-Evans, and his cross was touched away from danger by Craig Bradshaw. At the other end on four minutes, Michael Campbell got beyond Bradley Simmonds and saw his shot well saved by Bailey Mulhall and the rebound from Keano Robinson was easily gathered by Mulhall.
North Greenford were dominating the early exchanges though, keeping the ball nicely amongst themselves with some intricate one touch passing, and looking to exploit the flanks with their speedy widemen.
It was against the run of play that we opened the scoring, Antonio played a delightful ball into Campbell and he crashed a left footed drive beyond Mulhall for 1-0. North Greenford responded positively and almost levelled straight away as we struggled to deal with a corner, before eventually we scramble it free.
We gradually started to put some passes together and on the quarter hour, Campbell saw an effort comfortably saved by Mulhall. Carl Bower fired just over the crossbar, after there had been all manner of confusion on the edge of our area, and North Greenford continued to dominate possession but our backline, was holding up well.
Bower played a great ball out to Lewis-Evans, and his low cross almost found its way through to Sandro Costa, only for Bedding to clear the danger with a great last ditch challenge. We though could clear our lines and conceded a soft free kick on the edge of the area. From the delivery Murphy cleared behind for a corner, from which North Greenford deservedly levelled. The corner was headed back across goal and dropped to Charlie Conner who tapped home from close range.
In truth it was a goal that had been coming, and we knew that we were going to have to up our game to get anything out of it. Conner saw a shot from distance deflect through to Bradshaw as Greenford pushed for a goal that would give them the lead, but again, having been on the back foot, it was us who struck next. Campbell was clattered on the SCR left. A delivery into the box by Matt Robinson was only half cleared and from the loose ball Antonio hammered the ball beyond Mulhall for 2-1.
A minute later and Campbell saw his shot gathered by Mulhall after neat play by K Robinson and Antonio. We had an escape shortly before the interval when, after more neat play in the middle of the park, James Simmonds was released on goal and although the finish was good, the flag was up and the goal disallowed for offside. Two minutes later and a great run by Costa ended with a shot that deflected just wide of Bradshaws right hand post. We defended the corner, and saw out the remaining minute to go in 2-1 up at the break.
Salmon was forced into a change at the break, replacing the injured Murphy with debutant Adam Allen. We got off to the perfect start in the half, in the opening minute, Kevant Serbony picked the pocket of the Greenford midfielder and released Campbell, who drove goalwards and fired low beyond Mulhall to his right. Minutes later and K Robinson and Antonio combined to find Campbell who bought a good save out of Mulhall.
Greenford broke quickly and we were thankful to a crunching tackle from Bedding to halt their progress. Greenford were still looking very dangerous on the ball and continued to ping the ball around nicely, but again we were holding firm, and increased our lead on the hour, when Campbell was again released down the right and fired low beyond Mulhall in a virtual repeat of his second goal.
At this point the heavens opened, and we were greeted by hail and thunder and lightning. Bradshaw (once out of head protection mode), did well to save from Bower after Greenford had cut us open and then visitors pulled one back on 65 minutes with another well worked goal. A ball out wide found Ryan Murphy, who cut inside and found Conner who finished superbly to make it 4-2 and give the visitors fresh hope
Salmon made his second change on 70 minutes, handing a debut to Marlon Pinder, in place of Serbony, who had been on the end of a strong challenge. Mulhall saved comfortably from Campbell on 72 minutes, and a minute later Jamal Velinor did well on the right, weaved his way into the area, only to see Bradshaw make a great save with his feet and then gather the follow up.
With fifteen to go, Greenford forced a corner, we half cleared and Simmonds fired a decent strike just over the bar. Salmon then made his final change, replacing hat-trick hero Campbell with the talismanic Francois Gabbidon.
Bradshaw saved well from Murphy on 78 minutes and a minute later a great through ball beat Davies and left Simmonds in on goal, but a great challenge by Addo-Dankwa cleared the danger. Greenford were now dominating, and after another good run by Simmonds, Bedding conceded a free kick just outside the area which fortunately came to nothing.
Bower then beat a couple of players and bought a good save out of Bradshaw low to his left.
Gabbidon fired wide of the left hand post on 87 minutes, and two minutes later Antonio bought another good save out of Mulhall as we held on for a vital 4-2 win.
Overall a decent performance, we defended well in the first half when North Greenford were very much on top of things, and looked a lot sharper and able to play our game in the second half. North Greenford were tough opponents, and played some lovely stuff, but the finishing of Campbell was very much a deciding factor in the game.