Westfield 1 v Hartley Wintney 1
Post by KOB - 30-10-2016, 11:12
Not a game in which we can say we really rose to the occasion, but the point (in what was effectively a 6-pointer) is a lot better for us than for the hosts given the current standings, albeit with a long way to go. Either side could have won it in the final few minutes, with the hosts clearing off the line before Jake Maddock was called on to make a fine last ditch save at the other end.
It was all a bit too frantic at times, especially in the first half, with Westfield's quick play putting us immediately on the back foot and they opened the scoring very early and with worrying ease. On the other hand, the home defence looked anxious every time we came forward, clearly well aware of our attacking strength, but a combination of good strong defence and the ball never quite running for us kept us out. Their pace and movement was a problem for us and not helped when we started to lose composure as a few decisions went against us, and we were playing the ball high where Westfield were strong at the back, instead of imposing our own game by keeping it on the floor. In the end it was a relief to see us going in to regroup at just 1 down. Even though the hosts hadn't created too many golden chances, I felt we were always just one slip-up away from going further behind. Not our best half.
The second half started in much the same vein, and at times the hosts made us look very ordinary - not something I've felt in any other games I've personally seen this season. But we were defending with more composure now. We'd lost Shane Hollamby to injury early in the game and Adam New came in alongside Steve Noakes at centre back. It was a big ask of Adam, just coming back from a kind of injury that wouldn't have affected his play but meant he'd had very little game time recently. He did well, his quickness of movement a real asset against the Westfield front men.
Steve Duff became a bigger influence in the second half and a good deal of our promising forward play was starting down the left wing. For once Duffs opted not to head for the goal line and cross, but instead cut inside and was clipped just inside the box. With Ross Cook substituted a little earlier, Dean Stow converted the spot kick superbly.
The game changed dramatically after that. Westfield's efforts up to that point appeared to leave them fatigued now they were back at 1-1, and while we may have been tempted to shut up shop, it was clear the boys wanted the win and we were looking the more likely with a dominant 10 or so minute spell. The worry was we'd get caught on the counter, but full backs Tom Walsh and Louie Paget were superb, especially second half, in keeping the Westfield wingers relatively quiet after a bit of a first half roasting at times.
My man of the match would be between Steve Laidler (again), so instrumental in matching the movement of Westfield's midfielders - he had an excellent second half - and Jake Maddock, who pulled off a few very good saves but also for his overall handling and kicking. He was faced with a one-on-one in the second half and didn't commit too early, kept himself large across the striker's line of sight and blocked with his feet. Neither he or the striker had noticed the flag had been raised and it wouldn't have mattered, it was still a very good piece of goalkeeping.
So I think most of us came away pleased, perhaps a little relieved, at the draw. It was a shame that Westfield's coaches seemed to want to be confrontational when they passed three of us 'old geezers' at half-time. I remember how it all sparked off with Joe Paris after the end of the game there last season, and it seems they still have a strange idea of how to behave when you are representing a football club. Even stranger when the team play as well as Westfield do - what's with all the misplaced bravado? The initial comment wasn't directed at me, but anyone who knows me knows I don't respond well to intimidation, especially from a club's players and officials. Poor from them.
As a sign-off, must wish Adam Everiss and his girlfriend all the very best as they head off on their world travels. I'm sure we'd all want to wish them a great time. We will certainly miss Evo's pace, crossing ability, shooting and workrate - not an easy player to replace. Also to congratulate Ross Cook on his initial trial at Bristol Rovers - scoring and doing well I'm told - and we wish him well in the next.