Have experienced the feeling a couple of times across a barren December into January, it was hard not to feel for Steve and his lads at half time when a reasonably even first half, which they had started much the better, concluded with us five up. We were desperate for a win (as they were) and once again had players (though no Leon or Chris) while they had the bare eleven. We swapped pitches to try and balance the damage but also to hopefully make a change as good as a rest and finally settle at our new home.
This was not a massive improvement in performance, partly because our performances have largely not been abject but it was more solid and thankfully free of the individual errors that have recently dogged us. The clean sheet was as important as a clutch of goals with Matt Stanton at centre back and Joe at full back our best performers. The wind was wild particularly in the first half and St Thomas were at it immediately but we had a game plan and we know we have good attacking options: one of these, Craig got us off to a great start with his first chance, rolled into the left hand corner.
Still they came onto us while we prepared for the Jamie Hunter show: a fifteen minute hat trick. The first was hugely lucky, blocking a clearance 20 yards out which ballooned into the goal. Then he beat the offside trap and finished expertly before linking up with Craig to slide in a perfect striker’s goal. Hunter looked unplayable today and only a slightly unlucky red card for a slightly reckless challenge in the second half prevented him scoring even more. These ‘slightlies’ imply no criticism of the officials or underplay the fact the St Thomas’ defender was hurt: referee Francois Nguena was excellent today as were his two linespeople.
St Thomas kept playing , though Ben added a cool fifth just before half time: diagonal run followed by disciplined finish and still have good players (and some decent youngsters). The red card and injury left it 10 v 10 and we made three changes to allow others to help out cause. Sammy in particular looked very good and probably deserved a goal. He did however provide a perfect cross for Ben to add a sixth while Lee made an important save to preserve the clean sheet.
All the best to Steve and his lads. More of the same would do for us!