Sevenoaks Town maintained their unbeaten record but it took an almighty effort to achieve this as the team struggled to overcome a spirited Coulsdon side in difficult conditions.
The visitors opened sluggishly at a cold and blowy Corrigan Avenue Recreation Ground, and the home side capitalised on their opponent’s lethargy. They appeared to be a completely different team to the one that was swept aside 9-0 just a few weeks previously and if Sevenoaks were expecting the opening flurry to wane, they were mistaken. They were struggling to contain Coulsdon and the first chance fell to the hosts when Sevenoaks failed to clear the ball. The survived that chance but their play was disorganised and their passing awry. Time and time again attacks broke down when passes were overhit or intercepted, drives forward were broken up with Sevenoaks were caught in possession to often passing the initiative back to Coulsdon. The players were getting frustrated and losing focus arguing with their own linesman. Coulsdon were playing with confidence and looking to capitalise on the away team’s disarray.
That chance came a few moments before half time when they were awarded a penalty following a handball just inside the box. The players were fuming and argued with the referee but it was the correct decision and he wasn’t going to change his mind. The spot kick was dispatched to the delight of the Eagles and their vociferous coaches and supporters.
That was how the half ended a few minutes later and the players went off for a strong team talk with their record in serious jeopardy if a similar performance was turned in for the next 40 minute.
The talk appeared to work and Sevenoaks began the second half in more familiar form. The passing was better, the attacks more convincing and if they carried on a goal (or goals) would surely come. However, the initial burst faded and Coulsdon were proving more than a match for the team at the top of the table. Quality was lacking from both sides, neither team looked like scoring. Nothing seemed to be going right for the ‘Oaks and though they worked hard the opportunities kept slipping away as was time.
Sevenoaks needed a bit of magic if they were going to rescue anything from this match but it was getting increasingly tetchy and nervous on and off the pitch. But then, with no more than five minutes remaining that vital moment presented itself. Finn Richardson drove through the centre of the field and unleased a shot from 30 yards out. It flew over the defence and the goalkeeper and rippled the back off the net. One All and game on! The scorer was mobbed by his delighted team-mates whilst Coulsdon appeared stunned.
The away team were totally rejuvenated by that goal and their confidence returned. A few minutes later Kai Okulaja received the ball and burst past the defender into the box his low shot went under the goalkeeper and from nothing, Sevenoaks were in front! No one could really believe what was going on. The vocal Coulsdon bench had been silenced. A few minutes were added on at the end of the game following an injury to Richardson and it was his team that took advantage in those dying moments. Eddie Lane, released from defensive duties, cut down to the dead ball line and the ball across the goal, Brandon Parsons was on hand to knock the ball into the net from a yard out to make it 3-1 and leave the hosts utterly deflated.
It’s not the first time Sevenoaks have rescued a result from an unpromising situation but not in such a manner. The scoreline may flatter them but the result reflects their determination and spirit. They keep their record but it is clear you cannot take any team for granted, an important lesson for the remaining three matches including the vital match against Croydon which is due to be replayed as the last match of the season.