Conditions: 11 degrees. Slick surface.
Despite a run of 3 games without a win Slade were upbeat going into the game. Unfortunately a late withdrawal by managers favourite Nathan Cook gave the gaffer a tough decision to make. In came Veenaye Munsarum on the wing with Nick Samuels being promoted to the squad.
Smallfield have had an excellent record over the past few years and Slade knew this would be a stern test. The men in amber got off to the worse possible start when in the 7th minute a hopeful toe punt from their Karl Pilkington doppleganger from 25 yards managed to evade Rich Smith and bounce into the net. 0-1.
Slade managed to get a foothold in the game shortly afterwards with Sean Trend causing big damage by running the channel into their left hand side. Petal had 3 good chances but the Smallfield 'keeper was in excellent form and denied him each time. One save down to his right was particularly superb.
Chances went begging at the other end as well and Slade somehow held onto the lead after the Smallfield Striker hit the inside of the post. Half-time and the game was still hanging in the balance.
The second half started in spritely fashion with Smallfield carving out a couple of more chances but without really testing Rich Smith in goal. However it was Slade who drew blood next. A dangerous Karl Boffey throw managed to win us a corner on the right hand side. Skipper Sean Trend whipped it in and Bison Neil Shelley steamed in to head home. 1-1 !
Slade had their tails up but couldn't capitalise on their pressure and the game levelled out. Smallfield began to push back and Slade sat deep and played on the counter. This nearly paid off in the 88th minute. Veenaye Munsarum did superbly to roll their centre back and burst past 2 players who were closing him down. The Magician bore down on goal but the 'keeper managed to pull off another superb save and block the ball with his feet.
That was proved to be costly as in the 2nd minute of injury time Smallfield managed to win a corner on our right. Pilkington whipped in the ball to the back post and up popped a Smallfield player to head superbly home. 2-1.
It was further heartbreak for Slade who have had a rotten run of luck recently. Thats 4 games without a win now. A trip to Balcombe beckons next week in the cup. A perfect time to get it right.
Man of the Match was Neill Shelley who not only bossed the midfield but also found his passing game. There were some fantastic 40 yard passes along with the annual goal and some textbook midfield ball retention. Top work. Other notable mentions for Sean Trend in the first half and Marc Sutton, Tom Ryan and Sammy Dudek.