Haselmere v KPR at Woolmer Hill 15/9/18

3-1 loss

Scorer: S. Leonard

MOM: J.Crouch

Booked: B. Wicherek and Ryan ‘Chinga’ Mitchell

The triumphant return of James O’Shea as Reserves manager was a good deal less triumphant than he and his supporters had hoped. But whereas last weeks defeat could be accepted as a valiant, but ultimately futile, effort this defeat was entirely of KPR’s own making as not one, not two, but three inexplicable errors led to Haslemere’s goals.

The less said about the first error the better. Indeed, although club barman Chainy cited “three mistakes” as the difference between the two sides, the defensive errors were not, in the final analysis, the defining feature of the match. Haselmere are clearly a fit and well-organised unit but the match, on what was an excellent pitch, was, for the most part, dominated by KPR.

This dominance did not, however, lead to any clear-cut chances in the first half. There was much to admire in KPR’s approach play but the failure to use the available width and a seemingly habitual delay in delivering the final ball invariably resulted in the very capable Haselmere defenders intercepting the pass. On the rare occasions that a KPR player got round to pulling the trigger the ball invariably sailed ‘majestically’ wide of ‘Nutter’ the Haselmere keeper’s goal.

Talk on the touchline was that the game was up if KPR didn’t pull one back before half-time but, even ‘going in’ at 2-0 down, O’Shea, uncharacteristically, had much to be positive about. The opening ten minutes of the second half exemplified this and things were looking much more promising with Connor Reeves in particular ensuring the Haselmere left back, who had come on at half-time, experienced a torrid introduction.

Indeed, it was Reeves who created the first gilt-edged KPR opportunity with an effective low cross from the right into the six-yard box only for James Nixon ‘place’ his shot a yard wide. The chances kept coming but, even when KPR hit the target, two fine saves from ‘Nutter’ preserved his clean sheet.

Such was the dominance at this point O’Shea and his ever-increasing number of backroom staff were befuddled as to which changes ought to be made. The players certainly didn’t help in their deliberations as Seamus Leonard, who was being mooted as a possible substitution, scored a goal that, with some twenty minutes or more to go, still felt like the beginning of a possible come back.

Frustrations were, regrettably, beginning to surface. Ben Wicherek was booked and a similar outburst – this time, the unacceptable criticism of a teammate – led to the first substitution. The remaining two substitutions quickly followed, and although all three contributed well no matter how much KPR huffed and puffed the players’ inability to decide whether to ‘stick’ or ‘twist’ continued to result in a failure to do either until the final whistle put everyone out of their misery.

For all the attractive possession, the decision to take too many touches instead of delivering a first-time or early pass blunted the KPR attack. Even the referee, who (most of us) would agree had a good game, confessed he could not quite comprehend what he’d witnessed. It was certainly ‘one of those days’.

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