Lavant Reserves 0-1 Chilt Reserves
Fresh from securing a Pestle & Mortar for £2 at the Jumble Sale, I approached the afternoon’s football in a confident and positive mood.
Lavant had beaten us 3-0 just weeks earlier and went into the game on the back of a 3 game winning streak, so we knew it wasn’t going to be easy.
Although we possessed an embarrassment of attacking riches, we can largely credit our defence with the win, who were superbly stubborn in the face of a lot of pressure from Lavant in the 2nd half.
5/6 dropouts on the Friday across the 1s and 2s ransacked my squad, and I went from having picked 14 and having to leave people out, to just 12.
The first half was a largely even affair. Although Sam Archer had no real saves to make, a couple of crosses across the 6 yard box could have been converted but were not met by the Lavant attackers. At the other end, Chilt played some nice stuff and in particular the link-up between the neat and clever Richard Franklin and the pacy and dangerous Charlie Davies was where many of our attacks came from. Clear cut chances at either end were few and far between, although Chilt could have been ahead earlier had Zack Sanderson’s 20 yard curler not gone narrowly wide.
After Zack successfully won us a free kick, Ryan Ashley’s shot (which he is adamant was going in) deflected off a Lavant defender to send the goalkeeper the wrong way and put Chilt 1-0 up around the 25 minute mark.
An open first half saw few clear cut chances but Chilt went in 1-0, and just about deserved the lead. The second half was a different affair. An extremely pumped up Lavant came at us from the off, and our inability to keep the ball, combined with a referee who appeared to be paying almost no attention to the match, created an extremely niggly, physical 2nd half in which at least 5-6 players on each side could/should have been booked. The fact that the only booking was dished out to Charlie Davies (for an admittedly late challenge) shows how clueless the referee was.
This is not our sort of game at all, but we dug in magnificently. Ben Ansell was colossal in the air, and between him and myself we repelled everything that came our way. Jordan and Tom were tireless and committed at full back, and despite a huge amount of territorial possession Lavant still created very few chances. The one time he was truly needed, Sam Archer got down very sharply to brilliantly save a volley low on his left hand side.
I was awarded MOM (by the OPPOSITION) but it could have easily been any of the back four, particularly Ben. The midfield also did a magnificent defensive job in the second half, and credit is especially due to Brendan being asked to do a much more defensive role than normal, but sticking to the task admirably. Lavant are a good side and will be there or thereabouts this season as their record so far demonstrates.
My target for this season was primarily to stay up, and hopefully to go on a cup run or two. With us currently lying 4th in the table I may revise that target at some stage. I still completely believe that our strongest side would beat anyone in this division comfortably. However, I am also certain we have the most unsettled/changing side in West Sussex. Saturday was possibly the closest I have come to our strongest side yet, but I could still easily name 6-7 key individuals who were not available and would have strengthened the matchday squad. I really hope everyone can see the potential we have this season, and keep trying to make themselves available where possible.