There is a point in a disappointing season where you realise that you’re in a relegation battle and I think this has been our new year’s ‘wake- up call’ though it has perhaps been unheeded until the second half today. Each season brings a slightly different pattern of injury and absences and it’s never these facts which count but rather always how you deal with them. We have struggled all season to field our best teams but have sometimes lacked the resolve to make the best of what we still have: a decent collection of good footballers. This week our plans were disrupted by neck injuries to our two natural right backs and a faulty satnav that sent Dave Scott to Wolverhampton before Wednesbury and thus the bench rather than his centre back berth. Mark dropped back to centre half where he won everything, Stew filled in at full back where he added strength and quality and Christie played up on his own and put in a classy and gutsy performance. These three ‘lads’ are carrying the best part of 110 years between them but were the foundations of a terrific win today.
We also started young Brad Rogers wide and he also gave a good account of himself. Charemont were slow starters and we were able to get hold of the ball through Lee, Olly and Lance in the middle and use it. Ben was a constant menace and we had the lion’s share. All we needed was a goal which we got halfway through the half when Stew’s long throw allowed Christie to disrupt and Olly forced in. We then had a ‘spell’ and Brad had a goal disallowed and Lance sliced one wide. Claremont also had their moments and scored an equaliser with a ‘daisy cutter’ from outside the box: against the run of play but capable of getting them going which added to our frustration, leading to words at half time.
We moved purposely into the second half determined to make our superiority count but within 10 minutes some retaliation after a heavy challenge sent Lee Inett for an early bath (no complaint) but their lad only a yellow. 10 v 11 for 35 minutes are not the stats you wish for. We sent Dave on to stiffen things up and we needed our defensive players (Clive and Chris as well as our excellent keeper-captain Lee). However we also maintained an attacking threat and I was confident we could still get a positive result even after Christie had a good shout for a penalty turned down and their keeper had made excellent saves from Christie and Stew. I was very proud of all of them at this point: it was all hands to the pump but not a rearguard but rather a full blooded game of football. Christie worked tirelessly to keep Claremont busy and Ben ‘marauded’: it was now decent to watch though end-to-end. We got the vital goal when Lance redeemed a poor corner by crossing expertly for Dave Scott (whose morning had started badly) to nod home and then made my heart calmer when Ben’s deflected strike made it 3-1. All the best to Claremont.