In very hot conditions we managed to overcome unbeaten to date, Hellenic League side Fairford United 3-2 after a desperate first half when to say the least we very extremely sluggish. Our side was unchanged to that which had played so well against Harlow Town earlier in the week but for some reason, the weather or maybe overconfidence, affected in such a way that we were glad to hear the half time whistle with us only one goal behind.
It could have been different maybe had it not been for a strange decision by the referee, the first of many, in the 13th minute when Gareth Chendlik was bundled over in the penalty area and a spot-kick was awarded. The ball was placed on the spot before the referee consulted his flag-waving assistant and changed his decision. Asked after the game for an explanation he said that his means of communication to his assistants was faulty and that he had not spotted the offence that Gareth apparently committed but that his assistant, 70 yards from play had spotted it !!! See here http://bit.ly/2MD1gd2
This escape seemed to galvanise the home side and we were immediately under pressure at the back and we fell behind in the 20th minute. Good play by Ben Lodge saw the ball rebound back into the path of Harvey Scholes who drove it across Hugo Sobte into the far corner of the net, the first goal that we have conceded this season !! Fairford then enjoyed a period of dominance and it was only a great tackle by Dwayne Duncan that halted Fairford's Ben Lodge who was clear on goal. Hugo then did well to block with his feet a fierce cross shot from Mason Thompson. We almost equalised when a fierce shot by Gareth after a good move was parried by the home side's keeper Harrison Ellis but the ball bounced kindly for Harvey Killeen who headed it back across the keeper but it was hacked clear from the goal line by Nathan Hawkins. At this stage Hawkins and his central defender colleague Ellis Dunton seemed to be in complete control and it was not surprising when on the half hour mark we decided to change our formation with Rob Laney coming on up front to replace the 'out of sorts', Brian Testolin with Tayshan Hayden-Smith moving out to the right flank. It almost paid off immediately when Tayshan's cross/shot was palmed onto the crossbar and then over by keeper Ellis. However, it was again Fairford who came closest to increasing their lead with Hugo diving to his left to palm aside Scholes's shot. Harry Rush then got himself booked for needlessly blocking an attempted short free kick just prior to the interval.
What was said at the interval by the management team had the desired effect because it was clear from the first minute of the second half that there was a new zest about the team.
In just the third minute of the half a good move sends Gareth free on goal, Ellis coming off his line blocked the shot but the ball ran into the path of Harry who steered it into the corner of the net. Two minutes later, Harry missed a great chance to put us two up. Excellent link-up play between Harvey and Rob down the left culminated in Rob pulling the ball back into the path of Harry in an almost identical position to where he had scored from but he somehow managed to send the ball wide of the unattended net.
We then made our second substitution with Jeremiah Maja coming on the replace Gareth. In the fifty-sixth minute, we took the lead with Harry playing a major part with a through ball inside full-back Kallum Thomas that sent Harvey racing through on goal and he made no mistake finding the far corner of the home team's net.
Fairford made all three of their substitutions in quick succession as they fought to get back into the game but we now looked dangerous almost every time we got the ball in their half and it was completely against the run of play at this stage when Fairford equalised in the sixty-fifth minute. The ball bounced around in our penalty area as we struggled to get it clear and Mason Thompson's low shot took a slight deflection and just beat Hugo's despairing dive at the near post. We fought back very strongly and hard-working Jeremiah missed his kick with only Ellis to beat. Keiron Cathline then got a yellow card when ' making a tackle for the team' as Fairford broke away over the halfway line. Jeremiah then saw his shot blocked on the goal line by a defender and Ron then headed a cross from Tayshan just over the bar. Keiron then made a great break from defence before playing the ball into the path of Harvey who's fierce cross-shot was blocked by Ellis's feet. From the resultant corner we scored what proved to be the winning goal when from Harry's corner, Rob headed home with the ball just being deflected into the net off a Fairford defender leaving Ellis stranded. Harry then almost made the game safe for us as yet again a defender blocked a shot on the line. With five minutes to go, we were reduced to ten men when Keiron was booked again, his second yellow which looked from a distance to be a very soft offence. See here http://bit.ly/30xWkcW
We then bolstered our defence with Harry Tucker coming on the play at full back with Tayshan leaving the field.
With a lot of time added on, it was the ninety-sixth minute when Fairford had their final chance to earn a replay but Dunton's header went just wide of the far post and almost immediately after the final whistle was sounded much to the relief of us all. It was a very happy two-hour coach ride back to the club !!!
Team: Hugo Sobte, Keiron Cathline, Joel Jacobs, David Taylor (capt),Dwayne Duncan, Andy O'Brien,Tayshan Hayden-Smith, Harry Rush, Gareth Chendlik, Harvey Killeen and Brian Testolin. Subs used:
Rob Laney for Testolin (30), Jeremiah Maja for Chendlik (55) and Harry Tucker for Cathline (86). Unused substitutes Callum Woodcock, Liam Tack, Wayne Carter and Sheridan Campbell