So we set off Thursday night to attempt to get to the worst place known to mankind to drive to, having sat in traffic for almost 26 hours we finally track down the ground at 2.55. Nowhere to park obviously, but at least they moved the kick off back ten minutes as most people travelling seemed to be in the same boat. A few changes to the line up, Gurty, Mahoney and Bradshaw restored to the starting eleven at the expense of Kwasi, LHO and Trey.
Great to see over 40 fellow mutants from the Island there, easily doubling their crowd in what is a decent stadium.
The game started, Sheppey looking the livelier in the opening exchanges without creating anything, Croydon for their part grew into the game, the front three looking very lively and dangerous. After about 15 minutes Sheppey seemed to switch off completely, the Croydon number 11 got the ball, turned Mahoney quicker than Kevin Spacey and from the edge of the area hit a shot that with all our 15 keepers we’ve used this season in goal they still wouldn’t have saved, 1-0 to the hosts. From there on Sheppey didn’t look capable of stringing two passes together and for the first time the frustration showed with the players bickering between themselves which I haven’t seen before, it was like being married I’d imagine. The hosts took heart from this, and were much the better team but our defending left plenty to be desired, Girty, restored to the midfield was doing his best to pick his passes but a wet pitch certainly wasn’t helping as time and again passes went further astray than a Korean missile. Then against the run of play Remell went through, the keeper who was favourite got there first, somehow managed to completely make a hash of it, the ball rolled to Bradshaw who audaciously chipped the keeper from 25 yards into the empty net, fabulous finish. From here Sheppey picked up, their keeper making an exceptional save from a Girt shot from the edge of the box, but the defensive frailties again proved our undoing, another break at speed Sheppey caught on the back foot the forward got to the bye line pulled it back 2-1. Probably deserved but at the time of the goal we had just got ourselves on top. The rest of the half went by without anything of note aside a few more stray passes but at least we know we are a much better second half team.
The second half never really got going for the Ites, whether the midweek game going to extra time took its toll I don’t know but we looked slower than Heather Macartney in the 100 metres. A few niggly challenges started going in which raised the tempo but by and large were dealt with well by the ref who for once was actually a grown up. A long ball forward, their winger controlled it, Jack seemed to be caught wrong side and again he hit a low drive that crept in, 3-1.
Again Sheppey looked more frustrated than than a teenager in boxing gloves, Remmell who is never too far from any such action seemed to take a stray punch from their number 4 who had been nibbling away at our number 8, Remmell reacted leading to a 16 man melee, with Remmell rightly more pumped up than Mike Tyson with an elastic band round his testicles it took a while to get his blood pressure below volcano level, the ref who clearly hadn’t seen the number 4’s actions gave Remmell a yellow card. When the game resumed again the number 4 was intent on getting Rem an early finish so Easy E decided to take him off along with Timmy to be replaced by LHO and Trey. Sheppey tried to kick on but in fairness we looked as threatening as the Italian army, when we did get through them Trey seemed to be upended in the box but the ref waved play on. Indeed it was Croydon who again scored, I can’t comment as I was in the Gents shaking hands with the unemployed but was told it wasn’t the best goal we’d let in all season.
With that, myself and my intrepid travellers decided we’d seen enough of what was an awful game and were Infact looking forward to sitting in traffic thus missing LHO’s consolation.
Four straight defeats is never easy to take, in my opinion our defending has been covered by our cavalier goal scoring in past games, now the goals have dried up like a 60 year old spinster it seems more glaring. It’s very hard to be critical as I still believe we are well ahead of where we should be but we always seem to be searching for the perfect goal, great when it comes off but we need a few scruffy goals to get us through.
Lordswood in the cup next week, hopefully we will take a good following and get our season back on track.
MOM – The woman who made the tea, two fantastic cups I had, possibly the highlight of the day.