It was a beautiful warm spring evening, and Crawley Road fresh from a morning cut looked in fine fettle, slightly different to the wintry conditions we endured just 3 days before.
The game kicked off with both sides feeling each other out, it had the feel of a big top of the table clash, the home side probably edged the opening exchanges, largely playing on the counter attack, with EB playing like we thought they would, with long balls and trying hit the channels and feed off the second ball or whip balls in to the box. It was from a long ball in the channel, that the deadlock was broken with around 7 minutes gone, a long ball down the home side’s left was chased and a fantastic cross whipped in, the EB striker split the home defenders and glanced his header home, it was a good goal, but one, knowing they way they play the home side was disappointed to concede 0-1. Still spirits were still high with the home side, they were hungry and sharp to close down, firm in the tackle, which the away side found difficult to play against, the home team had two good attempts with Jack M and Sam testing the keeper, 15 minutes in, Ajiri chased a lost cause, after a tussle nicked the ball in the left corner of the pitch, made space and swung in a low cross which just eluded Jack M, but Oliver making a trade mark back post run, arrived with perfect timing to side foot home 1-1. Billy, Oliver and Jake, were now bossing the midfield, but EB always remained a threat with a stout defence and those dangerous long balls with a striker happy to chase lost causes. The home side forced a series of corners, but for once delivery let them down, one did get through and Jack just stabbed wide. Half time approached, it was a game of attrition with both sides not prepared to give an inch.
Half time team talk was positive, we had recovered well from the early set back, and felt edged the first half in terms of goal threat. We needed to keep our intensity and concentration levels high, and we felt we had enough threat to score a goal or two.
The second half followed the pattern of the first, the home side with midfield largely on top, but coming up against a wall of a defence, EB at every opportunity hitting long balls in the channels, a defensive shuffle for the home side had unsettled the defence a little, and EB were gaining some success in the first ten minutes, a restoration to Thomas back in defence tightened things up and the home side, then looked threatening on the counter, again forcing several corners, delivery a little hit and miss, Billy managed to stab one goal bound which the away keeper got a finger tip to and a home defender then got an outstretched foot too guide round the post. A lovely ball from Oliver saw Jack M race clear of the defence, with a bit of room and the keeper advancing his chipped shot sailed inches wide, it was a let off for the away side. This seemed to spark the away side in to life for the final ten minutes, knowing they needed really to win to keep their title hopes alive, hit long ball after long ball in to the channels, applying some pressure, they had forced several corners, which were all comfortably dealt with by the determined home defence, however with five minutes left, a corner from the right was missed by the home defender at the front post, bounced through several legs and hit the knee of an attacker, up and smashed against the under side of the bar and back down, hit the floor and then was grasped mid-air by a grateful Nathan. The referee and linesman were in a perfect position to see, and it was apparent from the bounce of the ball that it never crossed the line, it was close, and by fine margins games are decided. This had a galvanising effect on the home side and they found some calm and resolution, slowed the game down, kept more possession to see the game through to the final whistle.
Scorer : Oliver
Summary : After slightly stinging criticism for the first half effort, in the previous game, it was fantastic to see effort and determination across all parts of the team. EB aren’t the prettiest on the eye, but they are effective, resolute and difficult to play against. So matching them in terms of effort and commitment was the key in to getting anything from the game. I felt although they exerted some pressure, it was dealt with fairly comfortably and we created the better of the opportunities, in the end a draw was about the right result.
M.O.T.M : All of the team raised their effort levels hugely and it was pleasing to see, special mention to Jack C who I felt had his best game for a while, Oliver again was a bundle of energy and it’s nice to see his attacking prowess producing a goal, however both were outshone by the Whirlwind that was Billy, seemed to win every loose ball in midfield, and made one incredible tackle to stop what looked like a certain goal.