Saturday 5th February – Chipstead A Senior Cup
This fixture saw the 3rds back at Tattenham Way Rec for the second week running and although it was a little warmer this week we had high, swirling winds and a sloping pitch that was one of the smaller ones at the ground.
After a defeat against Racing Epsom the previous week we were looking to restore some order and get ourselves back to winning ways. Although we had a number of key players out we still had a strong squad and took three subs with us on the day.
The first half started well with what looked like a very solid back four and Jim Tallon joining us in the midfield, after some time out, to give us some additional options. We managed to create a number of chances early on and we were unlucky not to get on the score sheet following some great cross balls from the wirey Lee Griffiths on the left flank. Chipstead were looking lively on the break and had a couple of quick forwards who were pushing our defensive line on a regular basis. After 30 minutes, and having failed to convert a number of chances ourselves, a through ball to their best player on the left was adjudged to be onside by yours truly, much to the disgust of Ollie Rolfe (who went on to question my parentage ……and therefore his fathers…..and the Chairmans). The guy went through and scored a well taken goal to leave us deflated and 1-0 down at the break.
At half time we knew we hadn’t deserved to be in second place having had much of the play and some reasonable chances along with it. Having said that it was a cup game and no point in being cautious so we brought on all three subs and changed from 4-4-2 to 4-3-3. Jim Tallon went up to play as our point man looking to lay up some opportunities for Kevin Badcock (who came on for Ash Banford) and Ryan Edwards. That left Richard Wadsworth in the middle on his own and that was a risk as the opposition were no mugs in that area of the field. Rob Jones gave up his place for Jack Griffiths at centre back and Lee Griffiths came off to give Gavin Jones a run on the left.
As is now customary, Chipstead were treated to the ‘Warlingham free gift’ which seems to be awarded to any team who wants to take advantage of our post half time nap! 3 minutes in and before we have settled into the new system we went down a further goal to make it 2-0. A soft goal from a set piece. But we played a much better half and created some good opportunities, the 4-3-3 system finally paying off when Jim Tallon went through from a great pass that dissected Chipstead’s defence. Jim took the goal very well and put us right back in it. Up to that point we had been cursing our luck with some good football failing to make an impact because the final pass just clipped the back of someone’s foot or found the outstretched toe of a Chipstead defender. It never really ran for us up to that point but the goal seemed to fuel some new belief in Warlingham and everyone redoubled their efforts. An exciting last 15 minutes saw two further chances for Warlingham with Jim and Kev Badcock both having near misses. While pushing forward it was inevitable that we increased the risks of them scoring on the break and that nippy left winger found himself through our defence and one on one with Keith between the sticks but true to his form this season Keith managed to frustrate him.
Overall, it was a well fought contest and we deserved something from the game. However, there are some lessons to learn, the main one being; all the time we were ‘at them’, making challenges, running them down when they had possession and keeping up a high work rate we were much the better team and looked like we could score at any time. When we drifted off for 10 minutes here and there or decided it was someone else’s turn to put it in we became vulnerable and quickly paid the price.
One of the players said to me afterwards that there was a ‘commitment issue’. Some ‘were’ and some ‘were when they felt like it’. If that were true it would make for a patchy performance and that’s exactly where we’ve been for the past two games. Time to put your hand down your shorts and check what’s there, boys!
Man of the match; Ryan Edwards, there was certainly no questioning commitment there.
A big game on Saturday, with Merstham who sit just above us in the league, is the perfect opportunity to prove a point.