After an extended hiatus due to the international break, injury recuperation and, oh yes, half term Brockham Badgers were back into the thick of things.
In bright sunshine on a colourful autumnal November morning, we travelled to the depths of the Surrey Hills to table-topping Chiddingfold. In the sunshine, Badgers carded a familiar looking XI:
Jack Scott Ben Sadler Will McKinney Tom Gregson-Hill
Luc Cordier James Maynard Jacob Carter Archie Mariner
Louie French Alex Fenton
Loud blast of the referee’s whistle and we were underway.
And immediately the Badgers were into their stride. Chasing and hassling their hosts with bags of energy. Luc Cordier was punching holes down the right flank with numerous dangerous forays; tying their left-back in knots!
Midfield trinity of James Maynard, Jacob Carter and Louie French were tireless in closing down the oppo and making good use of the ball when in possession.
But, by the same token Chiddingfold, through their main tormenter, were giving us Badgers something to think about: she was a bit special their midfield maestro! But James Maynard especially was keeping her in check.
But it was Badgers who drew first blood. And then struck again in quick succession. 1-0 was quickly 2-0.
First up, Luc dancing round his marker (again!) finished sublimely after all his hard work. Deserved goal and deserved lead (just!)
Oh how us travelling Badgers ultras celebrated.
And then 2-0. Jacob Carter forced his way into the 6yd area and smartly stuck the ball away. Joy unbound in the away end: come on you Badgers!
A few Chiddingfold raids were quickly snuffled out by our back wall….sorry back four. Ben ‘Berlin Wall’ Sadler was giving everyone a real lesson in how to tackle. Ben’s tackling really is something to behold: precision timing every time. And it had to be! Something else to behold was Ben and Will ‘The Rock’ McKinney’s communication and understanding; a partnership in the mould of Rio Ferdinand and Sol Campbell truly in the making. Whilst Jack ‘Great Barrier Reef’ Scott and Tom ‘Portcullis’ Gregson-Hill held firm on each flank ensuring they weren’t to breached.
But, just as our wall was proving impregnable, a moment’s hesitation, a mix up and the hosts were gifted a soft goal. 2-1 and they were back in it. Drat.
Alex Fenton was giving his usual dynamic effort up front. For a striker of Alex’s young age, he is to be commended on his output: that boy works hard by crikey!
Arche Mariner and Tom Gregson-Hill were linking up well on the left flank; a rasping fierce shot from Archie flashed across the face of the goal. It deserved more, it really did.
Not long after though, it was 2-2. And sometimes one just has to doff their cap to quality. Chiddingfold’s chief architect (yes, her!) took control of the ball, teed up and curled an absolute peach into the top right hand corner. ‘Keeper Ben Sewell, like everyone around, could only watch, marvel and applaud.
Undeterred, Badgers forced their way back in front. More good work from fleet-of-foot Jacob saw him double his tally and nudge the visitors 3-2 up.
However, not to be outdone Chiddingfold equalised in the shadows of half time.
But time for Chiddingfold to strike the post twice and Badgers custodian Ben Sewell to make two wonderful, and important, saves!
A breathless, keenly contested first stanza ended all square.
Peter Scott, Badgers Fergie-like Gaffer shares some pearls of wisdom. Words of “tempo”, “energy”, “tracking back” were conveyed and his Legionnaires were all set to go once more into the breach!
Ollie Jackson came on to add some of his bite and to try and steady the midfield. Olly taking a leaf out of Ben Sadler’s ‘How to Tackle’ manual, was resolute in his defence.
But then, something happened. Badgers were blown away by a cyclonic force of….something. 3 goals in, almost, as many minutes. Bang 4-3. Bang, 5-3. Wallop 6-3. It was like being cuffed by Muhammed Ali!
Much of the good work in the first half undone in seconds. Hard on the boys but perhaps also a lesson to never switch off, to always track back and to go get the ball if it is lost.
Change of tactic now: Alex Fenton was then shifted back into midfield and made a real difference. The last 10mins and Badgers were a team transformed. Controlling the game and seeing a number of chances created.
Tom Gregson-Hill tried a speculative shot from inside his own half: it wasn’t far away either!
And then a diamond of a through-ball from Alex sent Louie clear. One on one with the keeper…Louie calmness personified, cooly lobbed the onrushing keeper to bring the boys back within two. Game on.
But, sadly, Chiddingfold wouldn’t be breached again and that was pretty much that.
A mad five minutes was our undoing. Perhaps Chiddingfold shaded it but they couldn’t have had any complaints if it ended in a draw. They, being top of the league, knew they had been in a game. Good effort Badgers.
If the Badgers take the positives from first half and the last 10mins of the second, that will set them in good stead for Albury this coming Saturday.
Lessons learned, the Badgers move on and go again this Saturday, onwards & upwards……
Man of the Match: for his unfailing efforts up front and in the centre of the park, take a bow Alex Fenton.