We travelled over to Connect Sports this morning hoping the game would be on, and in the end we need not have worried. The pitch had thawed out enough for referee, Brad Tonks, having no issues with the game proceeding.
In the opening 10 minutes both teams were trying to find and settle into their rhythm but the bobbly pitch saw passes going astray and players miss-controlling the ball. We took an early lead on 14 minutes with Thomas Collins heading in at the near post after a free kick taken by James Wood, 1-0. Connect then settled down and created a couple of opportunities but failed to take them, on 18 minutes a cross from the right hand side saw a goal bound header looping over our stranded stand in keeper Gary Lunt, into an empty net, 1-1.
On 30 minutes Connect took the lead the after an error from Chris Watson, which saw our keeper Gary Lunt lunge and trip the Connect player resulting in a penalty kick, well and truly dispatched, 2-1. Two goals in 3 minutes for us put us into the lead going into the break, firstly with Danny Holland on 36 minutes galloping down the left wing onto a through ball from Jamie Holder hitting an unstoppable shot past the Connect keeper at his near post, 2-2. Then, on 39 minutes Jamie Holder turned provider again with a square pass to an unmarked Adam Greenhill from no more than 2 metres out to tap home into an empty net, 2-3.
Both teams started the second half looking to build on chances made in the first half; the next goal was going to be important. We made our first substitution 60 minutes with Adam Greenhill picking up a groin strain replaced by debutant Ashley Dale in a straight swap up front. The next goal, on 72 minutes was a sublime free kick from Jamie Holder leaving the Connect keeper motionless, after a foul on James Wood, 2-4.
Our final two substitutions on 78 and 83 minutes respectively saw, James Miller another debutant replace James Wood at right back and Aidan Hackwood replace Danny Holland on the left side of midfield. Connect continued to cause us problems defensively and forced a number of corners in the last 10 minutes, fortunately for us we only conceded one, which came from corner and somehow ended up in our net, 3-4. A tense minute remained but we held on for all 3 points.
Thanks to all the officials and good luck to Willis and his team for the rest of the season, except on the 3rd January when we host them in the return fixture. Next week we travel to St Mary’s in our last fixture before the Christmas break.