Hartley 5 v Bedfont Sports 0
Post by KOB - 19-10-2016, 10:22
Spectacular is how I'd sum up the performance from the boys last night. We may have been some way below our best on Saturday while still winning, but we got pretty close to our best last night against a very good side. That was some team performance, not just the superb interaction and finishing of our two frontmen but right across the team. It was one of those games where no one had an off day and the passing and movement was irresistible.
Each of the goals was very well worked, with Ross very deservedly bagging another hat-trick and Sam also deserving it but having to settle for the two he got. It wasn't just their finishing, each provided assists for the other, and as usual Sam's workrate was phenomenal. The ball was running out just in front of me but Sam raced across, stretched out a leg and just managed to keep it in play. It gave Steve Duff the opportunity to break down the wing and cross for Ross to finish superbly from a tight angle, but it all started because Sam wouldn't give up on it even at 3 up. But it wasn't just Sam. Steve Laidler was outstanding, putting in one hell of a shift in centre midfield, and Steve Noakes marshalled the defence perhaps like only Noakesy can, especially in the second half after we lost Liam to injury, though the equally experienced Sillsy did a fine job of organising and encouraging too.
I find I can't even clearly remember our early opening goal, scored by Ross (our 50th league goal in just 15 games), but soon after, a wonderful piece of 1-2-3 interplay between Sam and Ross on the edge of the box resulted in Ross Cook lashing the ball home for 2-0. Later, Julian Sills pulled away to the far post and totally slipped his marker, heading the ball back across goal for Sam to finish from close range with his head.
3-0 at half-time, not because the visitors had played poorly. We'd had to do our defensive work and be strong across the middle, but going forward we were creative, pacey and clinical.
The only worry, as the second half began, was whether the boys would let the tempo drop, because we knew Sports are a very decent footballing side and, given a sniff, would have got themselves back into it. We nearly let it happen at Windsor and, no disrespect, but I rate Sports the better side by a good margin. But no, the game continued much as it had done and the boys deserve huge credit for keeping up that tempo and workrate till the end. We still had to work hard up and down the pitch; to their credit the visitors never gave up on it, even if they did start to get a little tetchy.
The 4th goal came from Sam not giving up on the ball going out of play, and Steve's superb delivery into Ross. Ross then turned provider, bringing the ball in from the right, reaching the touchline before delivering it into the feet of Sam practically on the goal line. Sam actually did very well, first to control the ball coming in at speed, then to sort his feet out and practically walk it over the line with the keeper on the ground in front of him.
Should I even mention the various other chances the Sports keeper did well to save or we placed narrowly wide - no reason to really, when we scored five, but it could have been even more.
Great to see Ian Jones coming on in the second half for the hard-working Laidler. We've missed the extra dimension Jonah's presence in the squad gives us. When we can bring players of the like of Callum Eagle, Jonah and Drew Matthews off the bench, well, that's a strong squad.
Man of the Match? Let's face it, it could have gone to any one of the boys out there last night, but I'm going to award my personal MOTM to a young keeper who has played the last few games and not put a hand or foot wrong. His handling has been exemplary, his kicking by and large very good, and it's clear the defence have confidence in him. That's so important, because defenders can become jittery and turn into trouble or make rash challenges rather than trust their keeper to take charge - a tight defence starts with the keeper. He has been so loyal to the club, content to sit on the bench most of last season while Atko was in goal, then saw Bradshaw brought in but kept the faith, and he's been rewarded, being there when we needed him. I'm so pleased to see him given the chance and grab it so well. Take a bow Jake Maddock, last night was just the latest of several solid performances and another clean sheet.