Despite the sun shining on a bright early winter morning, there was an air of gloom around early doors: because, we only had 10 men. Under-resourced for our return clash against Albury was not what the doctor ordered.
So with a depleted squad, nee team, our up-against-it gaffer, Peter Scott, carded a forced XI (minus 1) in:
Jack Scott Ben Sadler Jacob Carter(c) Ollie Jackson
James Maynard Max Davis Archie Mariner
Luc Cordier Tom Gregson-Hill
A 4-3-2 formation. Looked good but we were playing quality oppo….at full quota!
And straight from the off, one could sense (and see) that Albury knew they had a man-advantage.
It was possession football, all being played in Badgers half.
But, as the game settled the Badgers back four got a foot on proceedings.
Stand-in skipper, Jacob Carter, was revelling in a). his responsibility and b). his new position. Jacob was leading by example, making tackle after interception and interception after tackle. It was a super display of control and grit.
And his leadership skills worked an absolute treat. Because his fellow centre-half Ben Sadler was with him. All the way. The tackle-machine that Ben is; he was loving it. As were his full-backs: Jack Scott standing firm and Ollie Jackson again terrific at left-back. Ollie like the Black Knight defending his bridge….“None Shall Pass!”
And not only the back four were grasping the nettle. No. Our midfield trinity also got in on the act; the ubiquitous James Maynard, Max ‘bite-yer-legs’ Davis and Archie ‘The Shadow’ Mariner (so good was his marking) were all fantastic!
And yes, you guessed it, even our front two of Luc Cordier and Tom Gregson-Hill were tracking back helping out the cause.
Amazing to watch. Energy, teamwork, graft, responsibility….the boys knew they had to work hard. And by crikey they were doing just that.
So it was a real blow when Albury took the lead. (Another) soft goal – we need to cut these out – saw the ball half-cleared and Albury stuck the loose ball away.
0-1. On balance of possession deserved, but not on chances!
How would the boys respond?
Well, let me tell you; both instantly and wonderfully.
A lovely through pass from Archie found Tom, Tom (from too far out surely?) turned, took aim and smashed the ball into the back of the net. Keeper rooted to the spot.
Yay! Home crowd (of around 10 plus a couple of dogs) start their cartwheeling celebration…..of sorts!
But back came Albury. And they were now being a real menace with pace and pot-shots: all of which keeper Ben Sewell snapped up, as if he were picking apples!
One attack too many though, as yet another soft goal (Grrrrrraaaarrrgh!), saw Albury squeak ahead.
As before though, Badgers heads didn’t drop and answered with another instant riposte.
Ball came to Max Davis, who slammed his foot through the ball so hard that it nearly burst. But it didn’t burst. It flew….and flew. Very high and dropped just under the bar into the net. Goal of the month? Goal of the season more like. Scorcher!
If it was cartwheeling earlier, the home crowd were now delirious and pitch invasion looked likely….I think….maybe!?
And that was pretty much it for the first half.
An outstanding effort from all 10. They stood up and each of them were counted. A truly courageous first half and well-deserving of being level.
The second half was a very different affair. Badgers huffed and puffed but found themselves being over-run. It had to happen: Albury were making the most now of their numerical advantage.
A lovely solo dribbled goal was followed by a great headed finish from a perfect cross (as per Luc to Tom at Tattenham), and suddenly we were 4-2 down.
The last 10mins saw some energy re-found and a couple of efforts go close-ish from Badgers, but not close enough.
But today just wasn’t to be, sadly. However, top marks for giving it a go and for the effort – home crowd were proud of you boys and appreciative, raucous applause at the end showed as much.
Onwards we strive, onwards together, Up the Badgers #UTB
Man of the Match: Captain Marvel, Jacob Carter was immense at the back; in his all round play and his leadership….played sir!
Reporters Star Man: from this observers angle, Ollie Jackson was again superb at left-back; hassled, harried and didn’t miss a tackle. Marvellous.
Champagne Moment: ludicrous, audacious…..what a goal from Max Davis!