words/pics: Garth O'Mara
There was much pre-match nervousness and apprehension as the Smiths arrived on time (following the hire of O’Mara Cabs) and concerns were raised that their unusual punctuality may be a jinx. Just as concerning was the absence of our trusty goalkeeper George during the warm up however after a search party was sent out he was located prior to kick-off.
Warm-ups completed, detailed tactical words of wisdom delivered, jumpers removed and football was back in the bright sunshine!!!!
The lads started well. In particular Raff on the right with some trickery and wizardry that created early pressure and trouble for Goldsworth who seemed organised at the back in decent numbers. During this period a lot of confusion reigned as their goalkeeper fumbled a shot through his legs to for him to then dive back over the line and retrieve. The ref ruled “no goal” which in the spirit of the game and considering the error may have been fair – no VAR required.
The Vipers were creating the majority of the chances. Notable were Cody winning the ball in midfield, turning a phase in play, pushing the ball to Raff who knocked it to Jody in a 1:1 situation. Their goalkeeper was resolute to the challenge though and looked assured. Charlie looped in a long cross. That fooled everyone and just looped over the Goldsworth defence, Loxwood attack and their keeper sailing just over the bar. Raff remained a menace on the right. and William was industrious as ever over on the left creating a nice balance to our attacking line.
Goldsworth came back into the game and were certainly quicker to the ball and retaining possession better in midfield. However, George looking assured in goal and in particular Harry J mopping up a lot of balls with simple clearances it all looked quite manageable. Harry Smith came on for Willem – it was warm out there and after such a long lockdown break this would be a game that would require multiple changes to allow for some rest bite.
A Goldsworth free kick was awarded from quite some distance (mid-way to the halfway line) and with the guys probably not set-up as well as Coach Paul would have wanted the Goldsworth lad chanced his arm and looped a long free kick straight over the entire defence, over George and into the top right-hand corner. There really was nothing that could be done about this beautiful shot (I think it was a shot) and you just need to pick yourself up and move on - well that. was the rallying cry anyway! 20 mins gone, 1-0 Goldsworth.
The lads were in no way out of this and to be honest on the balance of play you would have expected that the Vipers would be able to play themselves back into it. However, just a minute later and some extremely uncharacteristic play from two of our most reliable players over the years handed a 2-0 lead to Goldsworth. Harry J hit a hard pass back to George who at that speed couldn’t control it properly and blasted it directly into the path of a Goldsworth player pressing. There was still work to do but with George off his line now the Goldsworth player hit it first time chipping George who was stranded. A very nice piece of skill. Deflation. Two goals needed.
With their tails up Goldsworth came back into the game and in a crazy 5-minute period it truly was end to end. Jody had a further two 1:1s clear with the keeper who was was just doing enough to keep him out while George redeemed himself with some very brave keeping at the other end. Harry Smith and Willem were was causing trouble everywhere and won multiple corners but the Vipers just couldn’t seem to get someone on the end of anything with that vital touch. The 1st half ended quite flat with the scoreline at 2-0 and Paul had some work to do.
The midfield continued to struggle to stamp their authority on the game and most chances were being created on the break. A good example of interplay as Charlie won a header, picked up by Harry and Jody just bobbling the ball wide. What did the boys need to do to score?
Charlie came off for a rest break, replaced by William and Raff was also rested. Chances continued at both ends and it did start to feel “like one of those days” – as the game was stretched Goldsworth were getting more clear chances and to be fair 3-0 did seem to be on the cards.
Notable chances for Loxwood included a stinging shot from Jody, a Jody shot flashing just wide of the post as the keeper was beaten and Harry S not being composed enough and blasting over the bar. That said, the Goldsworth keeper was having a blinder, well positioned and brave with a little bit of luck it was starting to look like his day.
The game stretched and it seemed that a 2-0 deficit was going to be a bridge too far however a consolation goal probably was deserved and after another string of chances William came closest after rounding the keeper who was ably supported by a last defender as the ball was cleared off the line. George continued to play well keeping the score to just the two goals – a strong save from their #5 in a 1:1 most noticeable. The final piece of play came from a Charlie attempt that was followed up by William and blasted over.
The game was played in a great spirit, officiated excellently by the ref who communicated throughout and gave encouragement to both sides. Well done to all involved.
The boys should be proud that they picked themselves back up and worked so hard to the final whistle. This really was a lesson on being decisive in front of goal and taking your chances.
Raffety was awarded a well-deserved man of the match on the Loxwood side. Personally, I would say certainly the most improved player in both training and practice matches pre- and post-lockdown restrictions. Well done Raff!
Last word goes to Jody and Harry J