What do they say? “24hrs is a long time in Politics”? Well add that to a few days, and a bit more, and you will have a complete transformation in this particular Brockham Badgers u14s squad.
In stark contrast to last week’s stunning autumnal day, in miserable, dank conditions (dreech for our Scottish readers!) we rocked up to the rather picturesque setting of Albury.
With a full squad at his disposal, venerable gaffer, Peter Scott, carded a slightly changed XI in:
Jack Scott Ben Sadler Will McKinney Ollie Jackson
James Maynard Jacob Carter Alex Fenton Archie Mariner
Luc Cordier Tom Gregson-Hill
As the mist and rain rolled into one, further murky-ing the conditions, the game got under way in earnest.
Badgers burst out of the blocks. Hassling the oppo, harrying and chasing. The boys were full of tempo. James Maynard & Alex Fenton were fantastic in their energy and took immediate control on proceedings; not missing a tackle and beating defender after defender with silky skills and lovely touches.
Archie Mariner & Jacob Carter were just as splendid; both were not giving their respective markers an inch.
This was glorious stuff; a joy to watch. Who had said what? And when? No matter, it was working. Badgers to a man, were working like Trojans.
But just as we were (nearly) getting carried away, an early warning from Albury. They hit the woodwork not once, but twice in the matter of minutes. First bouncing off the top of the bar, then ricocheting off the near post…phew!
Another raid from Albury was adroitly snuffed out by the impregnable Jack Scott on one flank, the impassable Ollie Jackson on the other. Both were magnificent in their efforts and blunting Albury’s attack.
In the middle, the growing partnership of Alan Hansen and Mark Lawrenson continues to flourish. Skipper William McKinney was imperious throughout. He did not put a foot wrong all game. His timing was superb and with each Albury attack we saw Will there to clear…and clear again. Outstanding young McKinney.
Meanwhile, our very own tackle machine that is Ben Sadler continued where he left off last week. And the week before. And….you got it now! Ben’s tackling is the stuff of award winning champions.
And just as Albury were getting frustrated…..we scored! How frustrating for them J
Corner won after yet another blazing, jinking run from the mercurial Luc Cordier. Tom Gregson-Hill’s trusted left peg curled a peach of a ball into the danger area. Albury defender panicked, got his head to it and sent it goal-bound. To be sure, Archie Mariner got on the end of it and smashed it so hard, it almost went through the net.
1-0. Travelling support in raptures. Just reward for all the hard work and effort the boys were putting in.
And the half carried on in similar fashion. Badgers harrying. Maximum effort was being applied. A couple of very decent through balls from our chief engineers Alex (looking very at home in the middle of the park) and the commanding James, almost brought more dividends. Tom Gregson-Hill, playing in a new position up front, needing to keep an eye on that offside trap, but all the while asking questions of Albury’s (not-as-good-as-our) defence.
Our genial custodian, Ben Sewell, clearly had had his Weetabix for breakfast. Nothing was beating this boy today.
Well almost nothing (spoke too soon)! He could do little about the equaliser. With Badgers clearly (and unsurprisingly) tiring, ball bounced free and a powerful drive, shot like an arrow buried itself in the bottom left hand corner. Given their chances, it was probably a fair reflection on the game.
Shortly after, we could catch our breath as the referee’s whistle brought an end to an outstanding first half: Badgers best of the season. By a country mile!
Peter Scott, Badgers Cloughie-like guv’nor on for some Alf Ramsey rabble-rousing words “you’ve beaten once, go out and blummin’ beat them again!”….or something like that!
Shrill blast of the whistle….and then, glory be.
A move (according to one learned observer!) straight off the training ground executed to sheer perfection. Tom with a boot, knee and well placed long pass upfield, finds Luc on the charge, who calmly rounds the ‘keeper and slots the ball home!
Truly magnificent. Badgers back in front; 2-1. “YAY!”…travelling support almost break into song. Almost.
Thereafter, it was backs to wall; Alamo stuff.
Albury raided and raided again. But sortie after sortie was swatted away. Ben Sewell making save after save, Will McKinney carrying on from the first half and extinguishing each and every attack (almost single-handedly).
On came Louie French and Toby Meadows to add some bite and (grateful) new lungs. Louie with a terrific, thumping challenge within minutes, but did himself harm in the process having to go off shortly after coming on. Toby, taking leaves out of Will and Ben Sadler’s tackle manuals, was getting stuck in with relish.
The possession and territory count was now massively in Albury’s favour as they probed for an equaliser. But it would not come. Badgers had come to do a job. And a job they were doing.
But with minutes left, a corner to Albury. Swung in, a miss header was jumped on and smashed home. Drat! It was coming. The boys did so well to repel their hosts for so long but were breached late on.
Time for one more chance each. Tom Gregson-Hill was through on goal only to be crudely chopped down. Up he got to take the free-kick but just couldn’t do enough to test the keeper.
And time for one more Albury chance. Hearts in mouths time….but no need really as this was a result Badgers were not letting slip.
An excellent game against strong opposition was brought to a gleeful end by the ref’s blast and that was that.
In terms of determination, effort and hard-work the boys deserved the win. But on balance of play and chances, it would have been very harsh on Albury had we won (they no doubt were thinking they should have won).
That mention of effort from the previous week was shown in abundance. Play like that every week boys and you’ll be giving every team in the league a run for their money and the results will surely come (like Saturday). Well played. Well played indeed.
Man of the Match: for his great keeping, marvellous saves (including a goal-line sit-save!) and being where he needed to be, step forward Ben Sewell
Reporters Star Man: for being truly awesome in a ultra-disciplined pugnacious performance, take a bow Skip: Will McKinney