Straight off the back of a semi final win confidence was high, sadly the atrocious weather put paid to a bigger crowd though to see 250 there was still a good effort on a night colder than a 20 year marriage and wetter than a haddocks bathing costume.
I’d heard a lot about Beckenham and their win at all cost tactics but always assume there’s a case of sour grapes Involved so I was interested to see how this played out.
The returning Richard Atkins added a bit of spice, he’s been scoring regularly and is up there with our own northerner in the hunt for the golden boot.
The game started at a frantic pace, The visitors settling early. A strong Sheppey team with Johnno, Cook Brunt and the Colonel at the back looked comfortable with the early pressure, the home side grew into the game, Batten starting to impose himself, always looking to move the ball quickly. Bradshaw and Rem unsettling the Back four. First chance fell to the visiting team, a swift move of tight passes gave the forward a half chance but he only managed to find The keeper, . This stirred the Ites, they then started creating openings, a half chance to Bradshaw that sailed into scrappy‘s garden behind the goal miraculously knocking over his Lambretta, breaking two windows, one at the front, and completely flooding his kitchen according to his claims form.
Back came Beckenham, pushing forward again, Big Johnno more than once stretching his meccano legs getting in tackles from the other side of the pitch. This was looking like a good game despite the conditions.
By now Sheppey were firmly on top, Remmell supplying the trickery, The shifter getting behind the defence so it was no surprise when the goal came, Mahoney picked up the ball wide right, looked up curled an awful cross right over the keepers head into the top corner. 1-0 and deservedly so and right on the stroke of HT.
time to thaw out which I did by firstly pouring a cup of tea straight into my gloves then secondly by using a Bear Grylls trick of urinating down my own leg, apparently not only does this warm you up it also stops wild animals attacking you. By the fact I’m writing this tells you there’s truth in that theory.
Second half underway, much as the first ended, Ites the better team, this time attacking the Botany end where the Chernobyl extras had massed, 50 odd minutes in we win a corner, Mahoney curls it into the wind Bradshaw leaps goes up quicker than petrol prices and nods past the keeper. Easy, this was vintage Sheppey, Beckenham had hardly uttered the immortal words “ Reffffff” so far, infact they were the perfect gentlemen much like ourselves. For the next 10 minutes Sheppey pushed on looking for the third, the frustration from the visitors rising like a 14 year old with the Freeman’s catalogue, first a tackle on Batten, surely a yellow ? Nope not even a foul, then a tackle on Bradshaw that looked and sounded like a leg breaker, yellow card this time ? Not even a free kick. Batten again fell foul of what looked like a mugging, the game needed the Ref to stamp his authority on it, unfortunately he didn’t but Big Johnno did, catching a visiting player somewhere in the 6 inch box. Funnily enough the officials saw this, straight red, another early bath for an Ite. It’s makes you wonder if there’s not enough showers to go round so the lads need to stagger them.
Next attack, Beckenham now laughing down their sleeves like Dick Dastardly get the ball, it goes in the area Brunt, possibly puts a tackle in, the winger goes down like Willem Defoe in Platoon, the ref who I thought was going to give a spot kick irrespective of whether they got in the box obliged, up steps Atkins 2-1. Beckenham now with their tails up pour forward, the home defence looking more battered than a hen night in Blackpool, the equaliser came via a lapse in defence, the forward found himself with more time than the Kray twins 2-2. Sheppey looked all at sea but as I said, think how good it would be to hold out for a draw, unfortunately nobody heard me, least the players who then contrived to concede a third. By this time the game had descended into the keystone cops, the officials who had started poorly and deteriorated, might as well have been watching from the bar. The home team had less protection than an Ashford fan on a first date and tempers were shorter than Easy E’s fringe. Wisely the tunnel was wheeled out, we made our way to the less vocal paddock just in time to see Beckenham score the fourth. All over.
Sheppeys football was as good as any I’d seen all season for 60 minutes against a very good footballing side. Had the ref applied any kind of logic to the early tackles and given some protection we might not have got so angry and kept 11 men on the pitch. Once Down to 10 men we were never going to hold out as they have undoubtedly used such tactics before.
M.O.M Big Johnno, a big lump with a decent touch who doesn’t mind mixing it up a bit, ok the sending off changed the game but to see someone get a foot in was refreshing to see.
On to Rochester next, I can feel 3 points in the air.