Keens Park Rangers Reserves 1 Holland Sports 2 (County Cup)

Goals: Tommy Newell

Man of the Match: Callum Toone

With the sun out and the ranks of the KPR tifosi swelled by members of the first team, prospects looked good for the ressies County Cup tie with Holland Sports. And the lads did indeed provide an excellent performance in a match that could have gone either way.

In the end the pseudo Dutchmen with an identity crisis (Dortmund kit?) came out on top due to a smidgen of extra class in certain departments but manager O’Shea declared it the best performance of the season.

The ressies had got off to an excellent start and, although no clear chances were created, they retained the ball very well. When the opposition got the ball their tactic to play long balls to their very speedy forwards were all too obvious and Callum Toone and Charlie Pocock, in particular, dealt with their attacks in comparative comfort.

Toone just pipped Pocock to the man of the match award for a performance that was as solid as it was unassuming, but keeper Tom Coles was also playing well in demonstrating some excellent handling. The only decent chance created in the opening minutes did fall to the opposition however, but a self-created half-volley from the midfielder went past Cole’s left post.

It was pretty clear that a goal would come but nobody would have predicted just how good it would be. The ressies had already demonstrated some good passing play but a series on one-twos between captain James Nixon, George Searle and Tommy Newell resulted in the ball at Newell’s feet some twenty-five yards out.

If the build-up play was aesthetically pleasing the explosive shot Newell unleashed was nothing short of breathtaking. Had the ball not hit the underside of the crossbar it may well have ended up in Woking and, having hit the ground, the ball was still travelling fast enough to almost burst the roof of the net on the way up again!

Understandably the throngs of KPR supporters were cock-a-hoop and things should have got even better before half time. Not long after Newell, Ryan ‘Chinga’ Mitchell had hit an equally sweet strike that the keeper couldn’t handle but the goal was disallowed after an apparent handball in the build up. And then, in the extra time added for Mick ‘H’ Harrison’s shambolic attempts to retrieve the ball, Connor Reeves was upended in the box to win a penalty.

It fell to captain Nixon to step up. But an unusually long delay that involved the referee fiddling with the net, and talking at length to one of the opposition’s players, many among the KPR supporters were less than confident in Nixon’s body language. Regrettably their intuitions were proved correct as Nixon’s ‘shot’ was so feeble that the Keepers Dad would have had time to run on the pitch and push him over onto the ball (one observer questioned if the ball would have actually reached the goal line)!

All of a sudden the supporter’s mugs of tea were half empty but with the opposition clearly rattled the game was there for the taking if the effort of the first half was maintained. Sadly, and all too predictably, the opposition equalized within minutes of the restart. And from a KPR attack at that.

It had been a decent looking attack until Chinga injured himself in making a misplaced pass that was quickly seized upon by the opposition’s midfield. Within seconds the ball had been switched to the other wing and a sublime first touch enabled the speedy forward to round Coles and slot the ball into an open net.

More good footwork from the opposition resulted in a second and matters might have got even worse had guest lino Paul Crouch not flagged for off-side. And yet the ressies were not out of the match by any means. Newell, with his left foot of all things, provides a very inviting cross for Pocock but, in what was an otherwise excellent afternoon, Pocock attempted a volley rather than the header that surely beckoned?

The exertions of the match were beginning to take their toll and, following Chinga, Rob Partridge was forced to leave the field of play after an impromptu audition for the ‘Ministry of Silly Walks’. Fresh legs appeared to give the ressies a temporary boost but a failure to shoot when the opportunity presented itself meant the opposition’s diminutive keeper wasn’t tested further.

Indeed, the visitor’s now chose to kill off the match with some rather negative (but understandable) play that saw the ball stuck in the KPR half for most of what remained of the match.

In the end the final whistle proved frustrating. The ressies had given their all and the opportunity to take the game to penalties would have at least given Nixon an opportunity to redeem himself, but he saved his ‘best’ performance for the pub where he ‘scored’ a hat-trick of forfeits at spoof.

As those involved in what proved to be a marathon session of Bailey’s and lime were tearfully saying by the end of the night: “we go again!” – albeit in two weeks.

Keens Parks Rangers is a Guildford based football club and we are always looking for new players and sponsorship opportunities. Get in touch with us through our website or our social channels