A crisp sunny morning met the 8 Vipers who made the Baku-esque journey to the remote outskirts of Gatwick. The ground was very underfoot was heavy and the players started to work out in the grass that on Harry S and William was almost waist height. Both of these items would influence the game but not as much as the Vipers being a man down against a physically strong and well-equipped Charlwood side who played with their full compliment.
The Loxwood army, all 5.5 of us if you include Coach Paul and Emily Smith, lined up along the side in expectation. At this point John was pulled aside for linesman duty which seemed a sensible decision for a sensible chap until Paul started to explain to him what side and half of the pitch he needed to run and also how the offside rule works!!
The game started strongly and brightly for the Vipers. Raff was assured in the middle of defence, Williams work rate was good and he looked like his old self again. Both Charlie and Harry were troubling the Charlwood defence and goalkeeper with long range attempts as well as very decent pressing. In amongst all of this a warning shot was fired (literally) as George in goal repelled their dangerous #99 from the left wing.
A Charlwood corner bought a wicked shot which George bravely repelled with his face, Harry continued to be a menace and Sebby cleared a corner intelligently. From that corner Oscar head the ball clear and although it was obvious the numbers were making this an uphill battle the boys were holding their own.
A good cross from Charlie who continued to work industriously was just missed by an inbound Harry in the middle. Harry had a 1:1 and William supporting from midfield also had an effort denied. Oscar had another chance and Sam just missed the deflection. At this point Loxwood had definitely had the better of the chances. It was however at this point that the tide changed.
Charlwood found new life and had a multitude of chances in quick sucession. #15 went 1:1 and George saved with his feet, #21 had a shot just over, #99 again was 1:1 against George who very bravely dived at his feet.
Finally, it was a corner which undid the lads. Viciously flicked in and using the pace it was simply deflected into the corner in the 18th minute. A neat goal. Could the boys (now getting tired after all the effort) get to at least half-time at just 1-0 to re-group?
Unfortunately not… and was has become a feature some quick fire goals were conceded. Only two minutes later the useful #99 score from close range – there had however already been two chances between the two goals.
The Vipers continued to try and face the deficit. The sun had gone in and it had turned cold. The cold breeze reflecting the mood. At 23 mins #99 pushed it across the goal for the #14 to skillfully backheel into the net.
The dispirited Vipers did muster another chance as their keeper nearly made a crucial error as the ball bobbed between his legs and Harry hunted it down to win a corner. Unfortunately William had turned into Christian Erikson and was unable to deliver with his normal quality as the ball hit the first defender.
Two more chances right at the end of the half very quickly together and the last kick of the half enabled the #14 to score another after rounding George who really did not deserve to be 4-0 down at this point.
Paul was incredibly sympathetic in his half-time talk. The boys had worked hard and the conditions and outnumbering was not helping them at all.
The boys became guilty of not knocking the ball into space but instead trying to dribble around everyone. This had their tired legs caught no matter what flashes of skill they demonstrated. “Triangles and Knocking the ball into space” was the cry from the coach and supporters.
At some point in the half their keeper resorted to wearing a jumper. Which was indicative of how this game was going.
At 38 mins a planned goalkeeping change occurred which had been pre-agreed on Georges instruction once he had decided he had enough. And quite frankly, I don’t blame him. Although William put his hand up with the physical power of this side through the middle it seemed more sensible to put Charlie in goal who hadn’t played this position for some time. What a revelation.! I could write another 3 pages on the number of one to one saves, diving saves and tips around the post that he made – my book actually says “I have lost count”. The opposing fans applauded and shouted their approval. I couldn’t be prouder!!!
This really had turned into shooting practice and in the end he was only undone by a deflection in the 55th minute off a defenders head. 6-0.
I am in danger of repeating myself, but everything was against the boys today. 9vs8, the heavy pitch with long grass, jet lag from the journey.
Personally I am very proud of the attitude. This will turn around. BELIEVE!!!!!!