AFC Hollington 1-4 BBFC
“In the end it was a comfortable win, but we had to be patient for long periods… & that is a real virtue of this team”
We dominated this game. Our midfield of Matt Ward, skipper Jamie CrouchFinlay Garlick secured the midfield from the first minute. They were hard working & intelligently swapped roles as needed. The rare times AFC put us under any pressure (long ball or rare mistake), our back 4 of Lee Costen, Chris WakefordJames Stephen Rogers & Ben Kempner dealt with any risks. Lee & Ben were able to push forward to support our attacks while one of the CMs strayed with the back 4. GK Shaun Utting remained alert at all times, coming early for balls anywhere the edge of our box. We had plenty of chances first half to build a healthy lead with Fin G, Adam Thompsett & Aaron Davies all firing wide or causing the AFC keeper to make good saves. The timing of our offensive runs could have been sharper as we caught offside a number of times. So 0-0 at half-time – reality but not a reflection of our dominance.
The second half took off where the first half left off. Matt Ward got our all important break through on 57 mins, firing a great finish home from near the 6-yard box in a crowded area following a corner. Matt didn’t have much to aim at but his strike rocked the net. But we were only 1 mistake away from being punished & that happened just 2 minutes later when we skewed a clearance. It fell nicely to an AFC attacker who rounded another defender to slot home to make it 1-1.
We used our frustration to react positively & swiftly. Harry Loates fired home form the centre of the AFC box on 61 minutes after they failed to clear a strong attack. On 77 mins Harry made it 3-1 with his second. A great strike from the right-hand side of the box after he skipped past his opponent for the “umpteenth time”. On 80 minutes it was 4-1 with impact-man Ben McNeillproviding a sublime cross for Ben Kempner to head home at the far post. Meanwhile our other squaddies Gary Thompsett & Chris Nolan had come on to add fresh legs & seamlessly enhance the team.
Couple of reasons why the scoreline flattened AFC – they fought hard for each other & never gave up. But our work rate also tired them out causing injuries. 5 minutes didn’t pass without the game being interrupted for AFC players going to the floor. I estimate we only played 38 minutes in the second half while the otherwise excellent referee didn’t add on any additional time at all.
As you can see EVERYONE played their part – THANK YOU LOTS FELLAS. Special mentions to Harry Loates for his finishing, Matt Ward for his overall MoM performance… & a BIG INDIVIDUAL THANK YOU to Finlay Garlick in his last game for BBFC before moving to Birmingham for 4-days a week from January. Finlay started with the 3rds – ball boying & lino-ing before playing & moving up the teams. He’s given me many proud Dad moments including playing in last year’s NCC final.
So… where does this leave the Thirds:
• We are still in the promotion race being, placed 3rd at present
• Our true position may be 5th or 6th, but we have the points on the board & our excellent goal difference is worth a point
• Our last 5 games are all winnable given our narrow losses against 3 of them
• We are the 7th highest scorers in ESFL with 42 goals
• We have the 11th best goal difference in ESFL with +20
• We have 3 scorers in Div 5’s top scorers table, with Jamie Crouch the Club’s top scorer so far
• Whichever players have represented the 3rds have been a real blessing to be with & manage – if available, get ready to each play your part in 2018.
SO BE SPURRED ON. HAVE A JOYFUL & PEACEFUL CHRISTMAS. Come back refreshed & raring to go… Icklesham Casuals on 6th January at Claverham. #thankGodforyou