Today the U16’s KYL team travelled away to Gravesend to play a Cray Wanderers team, who had recruited a number of new players to assist them in progressing within their first season of being in the KYL Central division.
The game started with a two minute silence, to remember those who have fallen in protecting our country. It was very moving to see both sets of players and supporters united in honouring our soldiers.
The pitch was a lot smaller than we were used to and its condition left a lot to be desired. However, if you want to progress in this league, you have to adapt your game to play on every type of playing surface. Straight from the kick off, the ball spent more time in the air than on the ground. Neither team seemed able to complete more than three passes, as the pitch was cutting up quickly and it was becoming heavy under foot.
The Oaks were slowly taking control of the game, but their fast fluid movement was becoming increasingly hampered by a worsening pitch. A marvellous save by the Wanderers goalkeeper in the 30th minute stopped Steve McCarthy from adding to his ever growing tally of goals.
However on the 38th minute, McMenamin delivered a free kick from the half way line directly into the opposition's penalty box. The captain, Charlie Watkins, steered his header into the top right corner of the goal, which will certainly be a contender for goal of the season. The half time score remained at 0-1.
Toby got his boys in at half time and sent them out with fresh instructions to go and express themselves in the second period. The Oaks moved the ball around more quickly and with a greater sense of urgency. Then, in the 47th minute, Giovagnoli who had given his opposing player such a torrid time all game, beat him to the ball and drove towards the penalty area. Giovagnoli then delivered an inch perfect cross to the far post where the goal machine, McCarthy, came in at speed to make it 0-2.
There then commenced a sustained assault on the Wanderers goal, with their goalkeeper making some superb saves from a Travers header and a Cooper shot that was destined for the corner of the net.
Although the Oaks have scored eighteen goals in their last three games, it is worth mentioning that the defence have not conceded a single goal in their last three outings and are looking stronger in every game that they play together. In goal, they have the ever reliable pair of Harry Earls and Callum Wilkins who work together to bring out the best in each other. The defence is made up of the ever versatile McMenamin, “the beast” Travers, “ice man” Wolfe and “pin up boy” Baillie.
In the 88th minute, Wanderers had their first shot on goal which was saved comfortably by our goalkeeper Wilkins. The Oaks tried to break quickly, but the opposition halted our progress by giving away a free kick just inside of our half. Baillie stepped up to deliver yet another superb delivery, which Watkins (aka Pirlo) flicked onto McCarthy who made it 0-3. Although the Wanderers battled effortlessly, it was their goalkeeper who kept the score down. Final result 0-3.
Yet another fine performance by Toby’s boys and a third clean sheet. The Oaks climb the league quietly with games in hand and look forward to the second round of the Kent Cup against Erith & Belvedere on Sunday.