First's dig deep to win at Camberley
The first team continued their move up the table on Tuesday night, when the overcame Camberley Town 1-0 in a hard-fought battle at Krooner Park.
The lads got off to a perfect start, when in the opening minute a lively run by Matty Auletta saw the ball reach Michael Campbell, who rounded keeper Stuart Norman and fired high into the empty net, for his 50th goal for the club.
Two minutes later and it was almost 2-0 when Campbell latched onto a neat ball by Jay Jones (in for his first start), lobbed Norman only to see the ball headed over the bar. It was to be Campbell's last action as the prolific forward was forced off with a hamstring injury in the 9th minute, and was replaced by Danny Fernandez.
Norman then saved well low to his left from Jones, who got on the end of a Fernandez flick, turning the ball behind from the corner. Carl Garstang did well to clear Fernandez first delivery, with the second finding Joe Mead who's loopy effort was gathered by Norman.
Camberley gradually started to impose themselves on the game and we found ourselves under some pressure. On 16 minutes a rare mistake by Jeff Addo-Dankwa let in Mark Jordan, and we were forced to scramble the ball behind for a corner, from the delivery Garstang headed over. Camberley continued to put us under pressure, but Addo-Dankwa and Owen Davies were dealing superbly with the aerial threat.
Craig Bradshaw, back on his old stomping ground, save comfortably from a snapshot on the edge of the area by Freddie Kelsey. Two minutes later and a decent cross in from the Matt Murphy was headed down by Matt Bunyan to Elliott Amadieu but Davies reacted quickest to turn the ball behind for a corner.
Camberley were on top of things at this time, and it was all hands to the pump, with Addo-Dankwa, Davies, Mead and Sam Blowers all excelling the physical battle. On the half hour we went close to extending our lead, when Jones found Fernandez, and his deep cross looked to be heading for Adam Allen, but Dan Jewell turned the ball behind for a corner. From the corner, Fernandez curled a effort goalwards, bringing a decent save out of Norman.
Bogle almost picked out Jones on 33 minutes, only for Kersley to make a tremendous interception, Camberley broke quickly and a ball from Mark Jordan was heading for Bunyan, only for Davies to put in an excellent headed clearance.
A minute later and Fernandez picked out Allen, who under pressure from two defenders got a shot away, bringing a half save out of Norman with Kersley completing the clearance. From the corner Addo-Dankwa saw a header comfortably gathered by Norman.
Five minutes before the break and after Anson Cousins and Jones had done well against Adam Wareham, the ball was only half cleared to Garstang, and his driving run and shot went just over the crossbar. Murphy then had a shot blocked by Davies, with the loose ball sitting up kindly for Bradshaw to gather.
On the stroke of half time, we went close again, when Jones found Fernandez and his instant shot bought a comfortable save out of Norman. Half time came with us 1-0 to the good, but knowing we would face a Camberley barrage as they attacked down the slope in the second half.
Jones curled an effort wide of the left hand post in the opening minute of the second half, and at the other end, Amadieu outmuscled Davies, but Addo-Dankwa swept round to clear. From the quick throw a low shot by Jordan was well saved low to his right by Bradshaw. Liam Roberts then denied Davies a free header from a corner, with a great interception.
Camberley were putting us under more pressure, and after a long ball into the area was headed down by Bunyan, Norman saw his shot saved by Bradshaw and from the corner Bunyan's goalbound shot was headed off the line by his own strike partner, Amadieu.
We made a change just after the hour with Auletta making way for Jordan Johnson-Palmer. Blowers picked up a booking on 65 minutes for another foul, as he physical battle intensified. Camberley introduced Luke Haskill and Jamie Armes to the game with the Amadieu and Kersley making way.
Davies put in a superb challenge on Murphy after a Bunyan knock down, when it looked for all the world as if Murphy would level things up.
Liam Holden replaced Blowers on 75 minutes, as Darren Salmon looked to freshen things up. A minute later and Holden released Allen, but he was well defended by Jewell.
Addo-Dankwa did brilliantly to stop a Roberts free kick from reaching Bunyan, and from a Jones ball at the other end Jewell cleared for a corner when Holden looked set to give SCR some breathing space.
Four minutes from time and Addo-Dankwa again was on hand to make a timely interception, and Holden almost released Fernandez but his ball was intercepted by Jewell.
Just on the stroke of full time, there was a nasty injury to one of the Camberley subs, who crashed into the metal pole behind one of the goals, and was helped from the field of play by both physios (as I understand the lad suffered a couple of fractured ribs and a punctured lung - we wish him all the best in his recovery).
Fernandez went into the book for ungentlemanly conducted when he tried to put off Norman at a back pass by shouting at him. And that pretty much signalled the end of the action, although Fernandez and Garstang had a minor altercation just before the final whistle. The lads though had picked up another three points, which saw us beat our points total in each of the previous three years.
It was a tremendous effort by the lads, and you have to say a couple of months ago we would have crumbled under the face of the Camberley pressure, and I would even go to say that the early loss of Campbell might well have disheartened the lads a while back, but we seem to be may made of sterner stuff now.
The boy also showed his superstitious side, preventing me from moving to watch our defence, in case I jinxed it, so had to concentrate pictures on the forwards!