Windlesham Reserves 1 Keens Park Rangers Reserves 1
Goals: Vic Hamilton
Man of the Match: Charlie Pocock
Another excellent team performance in torrential rain and treacherous conditions underfoot may not have extended the ressies run of victories but, on reflection, this hard fought draw against Windlesham was the right result.
A ‘right result’ had preceded this match however, following James Nixon agreeing terms with the club to take over the manager’s role from James O’Shea in the New Year. As good as this news was the day got off to a dismal start as centre forward Elliot Westwood was hospitalized after a prang that meant he could not play. But, incredibly, worse was to come (sorry Westie) as O’Shea and his travelling band of supporters had neglected to bring any brollies!
Everyone was wet through long before a delayed kick off after the referee, sensibly, reluctantly left his palatial dressing room (bigger than the one designated to KPR team) after the designated kick-off time. For the players, if not the supporters, the conditions appeared to have little effect and the ressies got off to a very promising start with much of the play in the oppositions half.
The wingers, Connor Reeves and Ryan ‘Chinga’ Mitchell in particular were seeing a good deal of the ball but the emergency forward pairing of Vic Hamilton and Scott Whittaker couldn’t fashion any clear chances before the Windlesham players got their act together.
Windlesham are up the top of the table for a reason and their deliveries into the box were uniformly excellent. Unlike the ressies the opposition were creating clear chances and debutant keeper Jake Simms was called upon on a number of occasions to make crucial saves.
The best of these was a superb reflex save from a half volley inside the six-yard box that he palmed onto the crossbar. As the conditions underfoot deteriorated the ressies were riding their luck but they went into half time one up after Whittaker flicked on a freekick. The flick itself wasn’t the killer blow but Chinga’s protestations that he’d been fouled seemed to provide a sufficient distraction to allow Hamilton to run onto the ball and place it into the corner of the net.
Bizarrely, even though the ressies had scored, Chinga was still chirping away at the referee as the game restarted. Like Chinga’s moaning, nothing noteworthy occurred before the referee decided he wanted to disappear indoors again. O’Shea’s team talk was simple enough in asking for the same again but any tactical changes were hindered by only having two defenders on the bench.
As it happened Adam Way had picked up a knock, thus giving Rob ‘Mr Grumpy’ Partridge an opportunity to have a run out. This meant the excellent Callum Toone got to play a more advanced role but the most significant change was moving man of the match Charlie Pocock to right midfield.
Pocock had already looked impressive in defence but he truly impressed with some superb play on the wing that led to a number of chances that really ought to have been put away. Ultimately this proved costly for despite some strong defence Windlesham finally scored an equalizer after the ball broke free following a second chaotic melee in the KPR area.
The game really could have gone either way at this point but the second half was to be interrupted by a red card for the Windlesham keeper that the KPR tifosi are claiming an assist for.
Hamilton, having outstripped the defence, ran onto a ball from midfield but was then poleaxed by a very dangerous two footed challenge. Uproar on the touchline ensued and the referee, who was some way away from the incident took almost as long as a Pogba penalty run up to reach the scene of the crime and, eventually, brandish a lurid looking ‘red’ card.
Having seen the card the keeper then saw red mist and he had to be restrained by two teammates in an embarrassing attempt to get to the referee. Once things had settled the ressies dominated the match but, despite creating three good chances, they were unable to capitalize on their numerical advantage.
The first fell to Toone, but he could only direct the ball straight to the replacement keeper. Then Reeves placed a half-volley over the bar but, with seconds left on the clock, the best opportunity fell to Tommy Newell after some excellent build-up play down the right.
Having won the ball, playing a one-two, and then beating a defender Pocock delivered a cross to the unmarked Newell inside the penalty box for a header that even ‘pyramid head’ Tigger fancies he’d have scored. Regrettably Newell conspired to ‘nose’ the ball into the ground for the keeper to collect easily – we can only hope it hurt more than Newell’s pride.
Had it not been so wet and muddy many watching might have thrown themselves to the ground in frustration but everyone was justifiably proud of another committed performance. Stealing the game at that point would have been most sweet but it would have been harsh on Windlesham.
The ressies have another opportunity however as the two clubs have drawn each other in the cup. If successful, new manager Nixon might have an opportunity to nab some silverware.
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