Picture the setting, Helms Deep and it has just started raining.
Our troops gathered together as the rain began to fall, as we prepared for the upcoming battle we were protected from the inclement weather in the away dressing room, various strappings and supports were adorned all along with the appropriate footwear. Our game plan decided we took to the field taking our positions to defend our keep.
The first half began with the new plush surface and wet weather conditions meaning passing had to be crisp and firm, something that nearly caught us out but for a running offence from the home team. We gradually came to terms with the conditions although we found it difficult to get our passing game going as we were offered little space with some tight marking, we defended really well maintaining our shape as the half progressed with no real clear cut chances for either side. The half time whistle went with neither side giving anything away.
A quick retreat to the dry dressing room to regroup. Tony urged us to continue the second half in the same manner and the chances would come. We showed much more discipline than in our previous game as we knew that if we were to go a player down against this quality of opponent we would be punished, “walk you fools” was the cry.
Places were taken again as Herne Bay looked to try and breach our goal as we were forced in to a rearguard action, twice they nearly got through as neat one twos enabled them to get shots in, on both occasions Lawrence made fine saves to frustrate the attackers, “you shall not pass” was heard as we slowly looked to turn the tide. The rain was easing as we began to more and more play in the opposition half. It was looking like the deadlock wouldn’t be broken until Rob took matters in to his own hands, as we played higher up the pitch he set off on one of his trademark jinking walks, he went past defenders and found himself in space, he was urged to shoot but instead found Kevin in space who gleefully smashed in the winning goal.
With little more than five minutes left we had a lead to defend, we didn’t really look like letting it slip and could even have scored again. First a quick free kick found Paul in space and his shot was pushed round the post, then Mick was thwarted as the home keeper just about grabbed his effort.
One more terrific team performance to add to the rest as we grabbed another precious three points to extend our winning run to five. Herne Bay might not be the same team that literally walked the league last season but they are still a force to be reckoned with, they compete for every ball, pass well and decisively and don’t give up possession easily, strong in the tackle and quick to close you down, our victory was well deserved keeping a clean sheet in the process.
Just one more match left in this part of the league before it is split in to two as we moved level on points at the top of the division.
Thanks to Herne Bay for their hospitality and to Chris Smith for keeping control of a very competitive encounter.