Keens Park Rangers Reserves 4 v Shottermill and Haslemere Reserves 0
Scorers: James Nixon, Stephen Kemp (2), Charlie Pocock
Man of the Match: Stephen Kemp
New manager James Nixon was blessed with a strong squad for this top of the table clash that resulted in a very comfortable victory but the ressies might have been a man down even before kick off!
Gareth ‘G-man’ Reynolds, having cycled to fortress Pyrford, was lucky that the two dogs that attacked him on his arrival only left a puncture wound in his jacket. It might not have been an offence worthy of putting the mutts’ down but the substitutes game of ‘rock, paper scissors’ to decide who was running the line was ruthless. Chinga lost on the first hand, but further ignominies were to follow.
Ruthlessness wasn’t a trait demonstrated by the opposition however. Although the dominant force in the opening ten minutes, they created no clear chances and once the ressies had settled down – largely due to an excellent first half from enforcer George Searle (deffo got a bit of ‘mongrel’ in him) and Connor Reeves – it was only a matter of time before the chances emerged.
Reeves had been the prime source of the ressies best play. As such the opposition’s attempts to keep him quiet made him the filling of an opposition sandwich that may have got other referees sharpening their pencil. As it turned out the ref played an excellent advantage that left Nixon with a free shot at goal. Regrettably it was no more than a ‘sighter’ and it went harmlessly wide.
The signs were looking good however and only moments later a good pass down the left from Reeves was latched onto by the speedy Kemp who paused on the ball just long enough for his excellent cross to be glanced in by Nixon arriving at pace. This was soon followed by a well-struck shot from distance from Searle that the opposition’s excellent keeper could only parry away.
Ressies keeper James Mullins was barking loud instructions to his defence throughout the half but, inevitably, the opposition did create a chance that required a good save from close range. One – nil at half time was less than comfortable but the talk over tea and sausage rolls was confident. Even ex-manager O’Shea was exuding positivity.
It wasn’t misplaced either as Kemp doubled the lead before many of the supporters had emerged from the warmth of the pavilion. And a quality goal it was as Kemp lofted the ball from outside the box over the helpless keeper whose otherwise excellent positioning, this time, worked against him.
That said his handling wasn’t entirely legal and bar manager Chainey spotted him carrying the ball outside the box. The resulting free-kick was in a good position and with substitute Chinga standing over it all on the touchline knew that something fantastic or abysmal was about to happen. As it turned out, to no one’s surprise, it was the latter as Ching shanked the ball high and wide.
There was jovial talk of taking Chinga off after only a few minutes on the pitch but doing so would have denied all involved in a classic bit of comedy. Nixon’s trickery was drawing a number of fouls outside of the box and Charlie Pocock utilised these to deliver two telling crosses with very different results.
The first of these cleared the defensive line inviting a free header at the far post. Chinga and Kemp both got goal side of the defence but, having cleared Kemp, Chinga stumbled in his efforts to head the ball and slid head-first into the post. Despite shifting the goal Chinga was soon, like a faithful Labrador, up and bounding around.
Before Pocock could deliver the next telling free kick the effervescent Kemp made it three-nil with another excellent strike from outside the box, although a deflection off the hapless defender looked to have assisted his cause. The fourth, however, did not touch anyone despite travelling some forty yards or more.
After another foul on Nixon Pocock delivered another excellent cross to the far post that the faithful Chinga chased like a stick. Surprisingly the keeper must have mistaken him for the ghost of Barbra Woodhouse and he stayed on his line long enough to watch the ball avoid everyone involved and hit the back of the net.
The game now safe assistant manager Mungo was able to substitute the excellent Matt Kear to preserve his knee after an earlier knock. He, Like Callum Toone and the rest of the defence, had helped to make life for the lads up top relatively easy with some robust defending but it was, undoubtedly, a superb team performance.
Nixon has inherited a team with not only great spirit but high quality. The strength of the bench, and the names of those that room could not be made for this week, could not be in greater contrast to the slim pickings available to O’Shea at the beginning of the season. It would seem that anything is possible from here.
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