Worthing & Horsham District Sunday League – Vets Division Sunday February 25th 2018 – Romany Road, Worthing
FC Zimmer Vets 2 (0) – Hills Farm Lane Vets 3 (1)
Manager – Mark Murphy
In the final stages of season 16/17, Hills Farm squandered a two goal lead to lose the game, and 2nd place in the league, to these opponents on the same ground. With this in mind Murph chose his strongest available squad and made sure that the team took the opponents seriously in this “massive” game. Knowing that the opposition manager had a plan to shackle prolific striker Karim, Murph shuffled the pack and left Karim and his strike partner on the bench, introducing instead the “dynamic duo” of Big Darron and Dan Purchase.
The first half began with Hills Farm immediately on the offensive and seemingly into their stride. The home team had set up with a lone striker and a deep lying number 10 who were playing some good linked up football on the break but Hills Farm captain, Tommy Burnside snuffed out every attack with good coverage behind from Matt playing both Keeper and Sweeper! The opening goal was a joy, with Richard Bramwell feeding Jason Grubb down the left. Grubby accelerated down to the corner before passing inside to Dan Purchase who had made a clever run into the box. Hearing the call, Dan unselfishly passed inside to Big D who calmly planted the ball firmly into the net. Either side of the goal, Hills Farm had a succession of chances from great in swinging corners but no-one was able to capitalise. The rest of the half seemed to take forever, with some disjointed football from both sides but no change to the scoreline.
At half time, the talk was about consolidating the midfield and looking to get behind the oppositions slower defence. Grubby changed to right mid with Mark Etheridge joining the fray at left mid. Karim and Gavin went up front and in response, Zimmer moved their dangerous number 10 back into centre half. This seemed to lift the pressure on the midfield and Liam and Carl enjoyed some good possession and dominance for a while. Hills Farm began to look comfortable and it was obvious that the home defence were so worried about Karim that they failed to cover Hills Farms' other attacking options. Grubby, Mark E and Liam played some great balls to the edge of the box but it was from one of Hills Farms many corners in this period that the second goal came. A great in swinging corner from Richard was met by Gavin right in front of the keepers nose and the ball shot high into the air before coming straight down and spinning over the line. There was some argument as to who got the final touch, with some players saying that it was Mark E Mark but Gavin, being a greedy striker, claimed the goal, perhaps deservedly given that it was he who actually challenged the keeper for the corner. Gavin had another great chance, again from a great corner to the far post, but strangely opted to head the ball backwards rather than into the goal!
Hills Farm were running the game now and had more chances to put the result beyond doubt but most of them fell to Grubby who's shooting mirrored his efforts on Tuesday nights and mostly cleared the pitch boundary, one even going out for a throw in. To be fair, the pitch WAS bobbly, not like the 3g surface that Grubby is used to slicing shots into the lower atmosphere on!
Hills Farm's third and decisive goal came from great work by Liam who slid a perfectly weighted though ball to Gavins feet and the striker, afforded all the space in the world by the oppositions obsession with marking Karim, slotted calmly.
Hills Farm went into cruise control to see the game out and the opposition woke up, moved their number 10 back up the pitch and got a goal back with 5 minutes to go. Hills Farm were not concerned however and never looked in danger of losing or even drawing this game and even the award of a last gasp penalty was of no consequence other than denting the Farms' goal difference.
Even the watching chairman, Sir Philip of Gibbs, was calm and the only agitated figure was Murph who was kicking every ball and bemoaning every bloody stupid blind flick until the final whistle.
A great win against very strong opponents who were very much up for it and still in the running to challenge for the title. Three game remain now and four points are needed to clinch the title. Next up another “massive” game against the main contenders – Goring Rangers.
M.O.M – Liam Kelly – tenacious and creative display in midfield on a difficult pitch.
Darron Mitchell (1)
Gavin Edwards (2)