Well I say this most weeks but what an advert for non league football, this game had more drama than a room full of women, more chances than George Bests liver with more action than Fred Wests shovel.
It was about time we had a new keeper, so step forward Louis Lawlor, on loan from Hythe, means we’ve now had more people guarding the line than Pablo Escobar.
Coming off the back of two straight defeats, surely Sheppey would learn from their now famous slow starts and not find find us one or two down before starting to play, but no, yet again we came out the traps like with all the speed of a sloth carrying a fridge freezer, a simple pass forward to ex pro Kevin Lisbie who produced a sublime flick on to the jet heeled winger who beat Kwasi with ease and headed for goal, Kwasi, no slouch himself attempted to stop the forward but only resulted in a tackle cruder than a night out with Bernard Manning. Penalty. Up steps Lisbie who found the net easier than a teenager home alone, 1-0 and the first action our keeper had was picking the ball out of the net. The crowd let out a small chuckle, we’d been here before numerous times, why worry. The Krays kept pushing forward with purpose, breaking faster than an IKEA bookcase , the ball comes in the area, a point blank header, somehow Louis reacted quicker than John Terry at the sound of a door key and pushed the ball over, what a save. By this time Sheppey were like the Richardson gang in that they hadn’t entered the Cray territory, again the visitors attacked, a simple ball over a defence that was more static than a Primark jumper led to their forward on a one on one but yet again King Louis was there to save the day. Then along comes the second goal, again a flick by Lisbie, the defence squarer than a compurt whiz kid, the forward this time makes no mistake passing into the bottom corner 2-0. Finally this proved the catalyst, like Bagpuss waking from his slumber Sheppey finally turned up to the party. The midfield of Hiccham and the puppet master suddenly started winning tackles, The forwards who up to then had less to feed on than Karen Carpenters dog were now working the channels, the captain was now spraying passes like Pirlo, Timmy and Trey were now doing their “thang” and suddenly it was Krays turn to be penned in, their keeper not to be outdone pulled off a couple of great saves notably from Remmell, Timmy had a snapshot again well saved, the pressure was mounting. A succession of corners followed, superbly put in by Hiccham led to firstly the floppy haired warrior Ralphy draw another fine save from his header then from the resultant corner as the ball was about to drop to Trey, Lisbie raises his hand like an incontinant schoolboy and inexplicably handles it. Penalty. Up steps Remmell, strikes it to the keepers left, the keeper gets a hand to it but as it rolls slowly towards the net in slides the Colonel with a finger licking good finish. 1-2. The gloves were off now, Kray couldn’t keep the ball and it seemed the home side were camped in their half. Again Batten threads the ball through, Brunt, known as the midwife for his brilliant deliveries, did exactly that placing the ball on Treys head who duly placed it wide of the keeper for the equaliser. The game had now turned quicker than Kevin Spaceys career so it was probably Cray who were happier to hear the half time whistle giving players and crowd alike a chance to breathe.
During the break, a visit to Mrs Miggins pie shop for a lovely cup of tea was the order of the day, if for nothing else than to defrost my fingers which had now become stiffer than a priest at Holy Communion.
The second half starts, the home team out quicker than a fat kid at the dinner bell, pressing, pushing Cray back and creating chances. Hiccham goes down under a tackle, the whole crowd decides to go to the toilet/bar waiting for the inevitable delay as George the physio “sprints” across the pitch only to be let down by Georges absence. Hiccham tries to carry on but to no avail, off he goes to be replaced by the Shrewsbury shifter, straight into the action goes our Dan, within minutes he rifled a shot in that again their keeper was equal to. Then just as it had turned in the first half, the game turned in Crays favour, the Ites defence who seemingly had been coasting for 35-40 minutes now came under pressure, first Lisbie broke free, out came Louis and saved at the ex Charlton mans feet, five minutes later Lisbie again got through, this time he elected to shoot early and ( far be it from me to tell him) seemed to choose the wrong foot and screwed it wide. With extra time looming both teams looked capable of snatching it, Adekoya replaces LHO and straight away looked lively but again it was Cray who had the best chance, the ball came in the box, the forward, who must have thought it was Christmas headed the ball downwards only for Louis to somehow save with his feet, incredible. It was now a straight shoot out between both goalkeepers. A few more chances for both sides and it was extra time.
The extra 30 minutes pretty much mirrored the previous 90, more shots than Susan Boyle has had hot dinners, a few bookings but ultimately no goals. So it was to penalties.
The drama continued, both sides scoring four each, ours through Remmell, Ian, Ralphy and Bradshaw, it was down to Trey, confident as ever up he strode, the keeper guessed right and saved superbly, the fat lady was warming up just as their fella placed the ball and sent Louis the wrong way to win 5-4. Both teams getting a decent ovation as they came off which despite the result was a credit to both teams.
For me the loss of Girty and Mahoney was a big loss, however the squad is good enough but seemingly have to go behind before they start playing. For the 40 minutes either side of half time the football was fantastic, the captain especially impressive. The colonel will gain fitness from this and the front four won’t go many more games without returning back to the form they were in a few weeks back. Out of two cups in four days but maybe if we have aspirations to go up this may be a blessing in disguise.
M.O.M – Undoubtedly the keeper, who at times must have felt like the boy who put his finger in the dyke (Sorry Feminists) not sure if he’s here for a while or just passing through but it was good to see him come in, so young and be so vocal and commanding was very refreshing.