Keens Park Rangers Reserves 3 Chiddingfold 1
Goals: Own goal, Connor Reeves, Elliot Westwood
Bookings: Tommy Newell, Elliot Westwood
Man of the Match: Tommy Newell
Despite the cold the reserves, in what was their first home fixture for a month, produced a heart-warming victory over Chiddingfold – their first in the league this season.
Although deprived of the services of regular captain James Nixon through injury, this starting eleven was the closest yet to the team many in the club had imagined fielding this season. And it showed, despite the excellent performance against Knaphill, in what was arguably the best performance of the season.
The ressies were, once again this season, clearly the better side and they dominated the play throughout the match. Typically, however, they went a goal behind before they truly stamped their authority on the match.
When it came the Chiddingfold goal was one to admire, although it did originate from a cross from a player Rasher described as “300 years old” strong-arming away the otherwise faultless Matt Kear. The resulting headed finish was superb and Tom Coles was merely a spectator as the Chiddingfold centre forward rose like Mark Hateley (google him) and headed the ball into the top corner of the goal.
This was as good as it got for Chiddingfold but, try as they might, the ressies couldn’t carve out any clear cut opportunities. A combination of dwelling on the ball a fraction too long and good defending left the KPR supporters frustrated in a half that seemingly would never end. One might have been forgiven for thinking the referee had put his watch back a little early but, whatever the reason, the ressies were most grateful to be awarded a late free kick that led to the equalizer.
Adam Way delivered such a good ball that one of the Chiddingfold defender’s placed the ball past his own keeper in a vain attempt to clear. This bizarre pattern was to continue into the second half with the Chiddingfold keeper being forced into a number of fine reflex saves, not from the KPR forwards but from his own defenders.
At one stage there was jovial talk on the touchline to give the Chiddingfold centre back the man of the match award, but it deservedly went to the returning Tommy Newell back from his holiday. In demonstrating often-remarkable strength and no little skill Newell played the proverbial blinder that only a petulant booking marred.
At some stage the ressies ‘had’ to score a goal of their own and when it came it was almost surreal. Connor Reeves, who had awoken from his slumbers of the first half, seemingly ‘gave the eyes’ to everyone on the pitch and simply placed the ball into the net when everyone else was expecting a cross.
However, a one-goal lead was never going to be enough to keep manager O’Shea and his backroom staff satisfied and it took a brave block and a sublime save from Coles to maintain it. Mercifully, unlike other matches this season, Coles’ heroics were being rewarded at the other end of the pitch.
Much of this stemmed from tactical changes that saw Vic Hamilton moved to play up top with Elliot Westwood. Hamilton is undoubtedly a pest and his energy was an excellent foil for Westwood who ran Newell close to man of the match with some excellent holding play. He also received a petulant booking but his graft was eventually rewarded with a goal, albeit from the penalty spot, after Hamilton had forced a foul with some quick footwork.
Having scored three there really ought to have been more but such was KPR’s dominance the assembled supporters were able to relax long before the final whistle. As unusual as that was there was still time for a trademark ‘tackle’ from Adam East. If the tackle didn’t warrant a booking, which it did, then East really should have got a yellow for the cheeky hair rub that followed (think Teddy Sherringham on Gordon Ramsay).
For the first time in the league this season the post-match the beers tasted sweeter than normal in a club bar that now resembles Arthur Daley’s lock-up. But while treasurer El Boy’s purchase of a job lot of spicy chilli peanuts attracted few takers there is hope that the players will develop a taste for winning matches.
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