Sevenoaks and Croydon played out a pulsating game of football on Sunday full of skill and commitment.
Sevenoaks starting brightly with Floris Faulstich at the heart of the action. He works hard in each match, his strength and skill creates chances but the goals have not come in recent games but he appeared determined to put that right this week. Both sides looked like they wanted to play, Sevenoaks were playing the ball around calmly moving the ball about in triangles when under pressure. They had the first good chance following a mistake by the goalkeeper but Josh Penfold’s shot flew over the bar but a mistake shortly after in the Sevenoaks defence nearly lead to Croydon opening the scoring.
The game was very competitive, neither team were shirking their responsibilities but Sevenoaks were looking the more dangerous. Kai Okulaja very nearly finished off his own move. A typically incisive run towards the box he passed to Theo Tite whose shot bounced off the goalkeeper and found it’s way to Kai who had continued his run only to see his attempt slip agonisingly past the wrong side of the post.
The game then shifted in Croydon’s favour and Sevenoaks had to contend with a period of concerted pressure from their hosts. Resolute defending allowed them to hold firm and eventually turn the tide back in their favour. The half ended all square with Sevenoaks in charge again but neither side could find that finishing touch. Josh Penfold, Floris Faulstich and Eddie Lane all spurned good chances to score in the last 10 minutes. Was it going to be one of those days?
The home team had the first chance of the second half but as that broke down Okulaja pounced on the ball and turned on the afterburners and tore down the pitch. The ball found its way to Eddie Lane who really should have scored. Soon after the Croydon goalkeeper kept his side on level terms with a tremendous double save from Penfold and then Okulaja.
After 15 minutes they paid for their profligacy in front of goal when the home team took the lead. As with other games Sevenoaks conceded off the back of a corner. It was a scrappy goal but the ‘Oaks should really have cleared their lines before the chance came Croydon’s way.
Sevenoaks were frustrated by that goal as it was largely against the run of play but if they kept their heads then the goals would come. Before long the opportunity came when they were awarded a penalty under innocuous circumstances, the opposition defender carelessly allowing the ball to bounce up and hit his arm.
Penfold stepped up and aimed low to the right. It was a good penalty but the goal keeper guessed correctly and made an excellent save, getting both hands to the ball and tipping it away before being mobbed by his teammates.
The goalkeeper was by far their best player and was called into action again soon after as Sevenoaks pressed forward searching for the equaliser their attacking intent deserved. Eddie Lane again testing their no.1 with a shot from range that he just about dealt with. For all his saves he wasn’t always keeping hold of the ball and there were occasions that if players gambled they might have scooped up a rebound opportunity.
However, all this attacking play was beginning to take its toll on the away team and gaps were beginning to appear in midfield as they pressed forward but couldn’t get back. They survived one chance when it was two on one but on the second occasion their luck run out and George Porter could do nothing about their second goal. He had hardly been tested but Sevenoaks were now two down.
There was still 15 minutes to play but it looked a daunting challenge as the Croydon defence was proving resilient. They didn’t give up and with 10 minutes to go, they were awarded a free kick @25 yards out. Eddie Lane floated the ball over the wall. The goalie clawed at it but couldn’t claim it and it fell to Josh Penfold who gleefully put it away to reduce the deficit and making up for his earlier miss.
This set up a barnstorming final session. They were not going to give up their unbeaten record without a fight and Joe Cole epitomised this desire. He put in a tremendous performance never giving up, harrying his opposite numbers on every opportunity.
The clock was ticking down towards the final whistle and there were only a few minutes remaining when Faulstich picked up the ball near the half way line. He shrugged off some attempts to get the ball and skipped past a couple of players to lay the ball to Joe Cole who in turn found Eddie Lane. The ball finally found its way to Josh Penfold who completed his redemption by scoring the deserved equaliser to the delight of all the away fans.
Despite the lack of time the thoughts of the players turned to a late winner but there simply wasn’t time and so the game ended all square. Ultimately this was probably a fair result reflecting how well the teams were matched. It was an enthralling game enjoyed by all watching it played by two teams showing the right kind of spirit but what a tremendous come back by the Blues when the game looked lost. They have shown great character in this match and the previous outing coming from behind in both matches and although the 100% record slipped away they are still unbeaten.