The U16's Kent Youth League team travelled to Eltham this afternoon to play Erith & Belvedere. The Deres are now being coached by ex-professional footballer Colin Luckett, who is widely respected within the game. Our opponents appear to have had some indifferent results during the season, but have recorded a number of memorable wins. The pitch today was less than perfect and the circling wind was to have an effect on both teams.
The Oaks started quickly, taking control of the midfield area and imposing themselves on the game. We immediately had our opponents on the back foot and on the 6th minute, Burden hit a powerful shot from 25 yards, which clipped the Dere’s far post with the goal keeper well beaten.
Then on the 10th minute, Strachan’s corner was met by Travers, who headed just over the cross bar. The Oaks were turning up the pressure in a real scrappy game, in which both teams were struggling to put together more than five passes.
On the 30th minute Rumbol’s defensive header was cleared to McCarthy, who played in Strachan. Just as Strachan ventured into our oppositions penalty area, it appeared that he was clipped from behind. The referee failed to award a penalty and instead opted for a goal kick.
Two minutes later, the Oaks were awarded a free kick on the edge of the Deres penalty box. Hathway delivered an inch perfect cross that saw Rumbol out jump the defence and head just wide. Then on the 35th minute, Strachan’s corner was powerfully headed into the goal by Rumbol. 0-1
During the half time, Steve Della Valle (aka Willy Wonka), treated the supporters to a variety of chocolates that he had saved up over the Easter period. I think Steve is making a late bid to run the confectionary outlet ahead of Dave and Sam Wilkins at Greatness Park next season.
The second half commenced with the Deres chasing down every ball and keeping the Oaks in their own half. Then on the 52nd minute, McCarthy played in Chambers who unleashed a furious shot that cannoned off of the cross bar. Chambers is yet to score this season, having had three goals disallowed and hitting the cross bar and goal posts on a weekly basis. Should there be a cross bar competition at the end of year, my money would certainly be on him.
On the 60th minute, Strachan hit a speculative shot from distance. The strong wind forced the goal keeper into an error and he dropped the ball into the path of the poacher Diego McCarthy. Our striker span on a sixpence and volleyed the ball into the net, for his tenth goal of this campaign. 0-2
The Oaks defence refused to allow our opponents a single shot on goal and our keeper Earls, kept his defenders switched on with his constant instructions. The game was starting to turn very scrappy with both teams being unable to control the game and retain possession. However, Strachan treated the crowd to a moment of brilliance, when on the 66th minute he dribbled past three defenders and curled a shot, which just brushed the wrong side of the post.
Then on the 79th minute the Deres were awarded a controversial corner. Their corner taker hit a high cross that eluded everyone and with the assistance of the strong north wind, it dropped just over the goal line. Our boys' heads went down, as they had lost their clean sheet, having denied our opponents a single shot on goal all game. The last minute was frantic as the Deres went all out for an equaliser but the game finished 1-2.
This was not one of our better displays and the pitch and strong wind played their part in making this a difficult game. Yet again, we were guilty of giving away numerous free kicks on the edge of our penalty area and not finishing our chances in front of goal. However, the Oaks never gave up the fight and took all three points in a difficult away fixture. We welcome Erith & Belvedere back to Greatness Park next Sunday and look forward to playing them on a fantastic pitch.