A disappointing evening for the Row that led to our first league defeat of the season
We're in the latest stages of November and this is the first time I have had to write a match report following a league loss. If you'd have told me that at the start of the season, I wouldn't have believed you, yet, it doesn't make it any easier writing it!
We were far from our best, the boys realise that. Credit to Badshot Lea who played to their strengths and worked hard as a unit to snatch the result.
It was a very disappointing evening. A poor performance by our own standards, in fact, a poor performance by anyone's standards. There were glimpses of good play, but never on a consistent basis. In the very early stages of the game Duff beat his man on a couple of occasions and pulled the ball across the box into dangerous areas. There was a hope that those singular moments would be a constant throughout and set up a tempo for the rest of the evening. Sadly, it didn't.
Badshot went ahead following a corner. We didn't deal with the first ball and was second to the drop down as it was nestled in beyond Atko from within the 6 yard box.
Badshot created another chance ten minutes later when Mason Saunders opened his body out and fired a good strike that hit the post. Adam Everiss created what was probably the best moment of the game despite it not resulting in a goal when, with some neat footwork, worked the ball into a space from 30 yards out and unleashed a fearsome strike that rattled the crossbar.
We were awarded a penalty after Sam Argent was brought down in the box. Aaron Parfitt stood over the ball and just as the crossbar had stopped shaking from Everiss' earlier strike, Parfitt found the same spot. It bounced off the crossbar and came back into the path of Duff, and in what seemed like an eternity the ball finally fell for Duff to narrowly strike wide. We haven't had 'one of those days' but it was certainly starting to feel like one.
Badshot were certainly up for the game and Paul Coventry repeatedly allowed Badshot to progress higher up the pitch. I mean absolutely no disrespect to Badshot as they have a number of players that I have coached, played alongside and remain good friends with, but I remain that we were beating ourselves. We were not doing the things that had worked for us for numerous weeks previous and I don't think the way Badshot played, stopped us from being able to do it.
Sam Argent did level the score relatively late on in the first half with a good finish from inside the penalty area. Half Time 1-1.
Hartley started the brighter of the two teams during the second half and started to creep up the pitch with a little more quality. There were a couple of nice combinations that we created down the right hand side. A series of longer passes that were set back to a forward running player which was then repeated further up the pitch. We had the ability and the space to break the lines, but we frustratingly didn't do it again.
We had a great opportunity from a set piece where Parfitt sprayed a cross-field pass into the area but Liam Eagle headed wide - he almost connected with it too well.
Hartley did take the lead when Sam Argent once again finished inside the area. There was hope that this would settle the boys and we'd crack on from that point on, but some poor positioning within our defence allowed their left midfielder to cruise through and finish beyond Atkinson.
It was down the left hand side again with 10 minutes to go that Badshot scored the winner. Ex-Hartley player, Ryan Stephens, cut inside onto his right foot and pushed the ball into the area, upon doing that he curled the ball into the bottom corner of the net past an outreached Atkinson.
Hartley created a couple of late chances, one of which was a great delivery that was met in the middle but hit the post and went agonisingly wide. Full time 2-3.
We were far from our best, the boys realise that. Admittedly, we had a number of players missing, but that's no excuse, we had more than enough quality on the pitch to win that game. Credit to Badshot Lea who played to their strengths and worked hard as a unit to snatch the result. We certainly wish them all the best with the rest of their season. I would also like to wish Elliot Hobden a speedy recovery from his injury. Today, there has been reassuring noises coming from the Hartley players, a bit of a rally cry from within the squad to regroup, refocus and make things right on Saturday. It's a set back, but hopefully in a bow and arrow styled approach, sometimes you need something to pull you back to propel you forward. I look forward to seeing the reaction from the boys. Draw a line under Tuesday night, the performance was out of character and far from what we expect. Full steam ahead with the next game. [DB]