10 men Hartley see off Chessy challenge
The boys carried on from Tuesday night against Fleet Town in the FA Cup replay in terms of their application and consistency through the 90 minutes, which is to be commended after what was a big night - most teams suffer a drop in the focus and commitment levels when coming back to the nitty gritty of the league after a night like that. We started well and the reward finally came when Aaron's free-kick from out wide on the left sailed over and through the players in the box and ended up inside the far post with the keeper rooted on his line - I believe new and very welcomed signing Julian Sills (in for the sidelined Noakes) is claiming a touch, while Aaron is claiming the goal as his. At that stage Chessy were certainly competitive but I felt we had enough to cope with it, but then came the turning point which changed the game, though in the end not the result - Cook's sending off.
We ought to take a leaf out of the rugby behaviour manual, where people can get right behind their team without feeling the need to punch anyone.
I actually thought the ref, Steven Scott, had started the game well, but he seemed to be increasingly influenced by the shouts from the Chessington bench. To be honest I'm sick of the constant barracking of the officials in general, but when you sense they are bowing to it then supporters start trying to redress the balance. The coaches ought to be spending more time on tactics than shouting at the ref, but yesterday again was a situation where shouting and barracking the ref got them some reward, and while that continues, they and other benches will carry on doing it, and then supporters get involved and you have the situation where it becomes whoever shouts the loudest and more aggressive! Not good for the future of the game at all, it has become far, far too confrontational off the pitch - we ought to take a leaf out of the rugby behaviour manual, where somehow people can get right behind their team without feeling the need to punch anyone!
Having ranted about that, I'm told the tackle didn't merit a red card. From where I was, it just left me wondering why Cooky even gave the ref a decision to make. It was at best a robust challenge that could have been interpreted as perhaps out of control, two footed, whatever, and whether it was or not, why give the ref a decision to make in that part of the pitch? OK, a defender faced by a striker in the last few minutes of the game with the score at 0-0 and the forward with just him to beat might take one for the team... but deep inside the opposition's half? Sorry Ross, bad decision mate. But the rants from the Chessy bench and players probably helped persuade the ref to show red rather than yellow, which by most accounts would have been fairer.
Second half Chessy obviously felt we were there for the taking, down to 10 men, and threw everything at us. Our work ethic was superb - with captain and MOTM Argent leading by example as on Tuesday - and the combination of dogged defending and fast, strong forward play eventually led to Steve Duff hammering one from distance against the Chessy crossbar - fortunately it fell to Toby Jannaway just outside the 6 yard box; with defenders getting back to cover the line, I sensed him think 'do I head it goalwards and risk not getting enough power on it', then have the calm confidence to take a second to bring it down and hammer it into the net - simple finish in a sense but well taken, giving the covering defenders no hope.
Mr Scott's game really seemed to deteriorate further, though in his defence he was being put under a lot of pressure by all around. We took several bookings for silly things, often heavily prompted by Chessy's bench. Don't like to see that at all, but I suppose it did make me all the more happier that we sent them back home with nowt! As Duffs said after the game, 2-0 in those circumstances is as good as 7-0. Well done boys. [KOB]