Today our U16's Kent Youth League team travelled to Gravesend to play Guru Nanak at their stadium; which is eclipsed by a most remarkable temple. Guru Nanak are renowned as being particularly strong at home and their results against a number of the top teams are rather impressive.
The game started with Nanak sprinting straight out of the blocks and giving our boys no time on the ball. Their pressing and hard work rattled the Oaks, who lost their composure and often relied on playing a long ball. However, on the sixth minute, Hathway played in Cooper; whose first time pass fell to McCarthy. Diego McCarthy skipped past the defender and unleashed a shot that the goal keeper could only push away for a corner.
Cooper delivered his corner to the far post, where Travers rose above the defence and headed his effort downwards. Unfortunately the ball hit a defender on the line, and the ball landed kindly into the hands of their goalkeeper.
Then, on the 15th minute, Hathway hit a long cross field pass to Cooper, who was stationed on the right wing. Cooper roasted his opponent with speed and trickery, before squaring the ball to McCarthy. Diego McCarthy pulled the trigger and placed the ball into the corner of the net. 0-1
This game was always going to be strongly contested and it proved to be a game not for the faint hearted. Both sides were starting to pick up yellow cards and the game became littered with free kicks. Suddenly on the 20th minute, Nanak crossed into our area and their striker headed the equalizer, totally unchallenged. 1-1
The Oaks were slowly taking control of the game and on the 24th minute, after some great inter play, Strachan played in McCarthy; who hit a long dipping shot that hit the cross bar with the goalkeeper well beaten.
On the 40th minute, our opponents hit a free kick into our penalty area, which was met with a little indecisiveness. This resulted in one of our defenders heading the ball onto our own cross bar and out to safety. Before the resulting corner could be taken, the referee whistled for half time.
The second half commenced at a high tempo and both teams were starting to play some good football. However, the ball was frequently in the air and the game often turned into a scrap, rather than a game of football. Due to no change in the score line, Toby sent Travers up front and brought McMeniman into the defence.
Yellow cards were still being distributed by the referee, and then on the 60th minute a Nanak player was sent off for a straight red card offence. The Oaks had been slowly taking control of the game and this was to be a defining moment for our opponents. McCarthy then found himself one-on-one with the Nanak goalkeeper who was adjudged to have brought him down.
A penalty was awarded and the ever reliable Cooper stepped up to help Town regain the lead. 1-2
Hathway and Watkins had been truly involved in a battle for the centre of the park, and tonight I am sure their girlfriends and families are nursing their injuries and hearing stories of how they had sustained injuries similar to those who had ventured into the Roman arenas. Hathway had been particularly caught by a number of late tackles due to his trickery and quick feet.
Then the Oaks mounted an attack where McCarthy slipped, but he was still able to play the ball to Cooper who was clean through on goal. Our opponents fouled Cooper and a second penalty kick was duly awarded. Cooper was not fazed and placed the ball on the spot to take his second penalty of the game. Cooper struck the perfect penalty to extend the lead. 1-3
I have to mention Guru Nanak who played some excellent football in the second half, but who were unable to breach our defence or to have any shots on our goal. This was always going to be a hard task due to them being reduced to ten players.
On the 75th minute, Travers won the ball in midfield and played in McCarthy. Diego McCarthy put the ball over the defence and into the area where Cooper had been so commanding. Cooper latched onto the ball and looped his shot over the onrushing goalkeeper. 1-4
This was a good result against a team who are very difficult to beat at home. Other than the goal that they scored, they did not have another shot on goal. Wilkins marshalled his defence to great effect and the boys continue their great run which has seen them go into second place in the division. Well done to all the boys today and we look forward to our next game.