I think we were a tad unfortunate today in a game where both sides probably thought the other was there for the taking. Both were down to a bare eleven: their twelfth man arrived at half time and we had to persuade Stew Harvey out of retirement to provide cover from the bench. Our problem today was in Fowler and Smith (the two Bens), Clive and Tom (our four principal absentees) we lost our top scorer and much of our youthful energy (these lads are all under 25: our youngest starter today was 31!). Zion, on the other hand had Sean providing a constant threat and a lad I consider the best player in this league, Leon Naylor who proved to be the difference today.
In a game in which none of the three keepers had a proper save to make, Leon produced two quality strikes (low drive and proper 30 yarder) one in each half and was their major threat. However before the first of these we had both suffered the loss of our keeper and taken the lead. Within fifteen minutes Lee had to leave the field, Matty Williams deputising, bringing veteran Stew Harvey to the field moments after he’d told me that when South asked him to help us out he’d ‘fancied a bit of a run’. In fact he had to give us 75 minutes and did so with all his customary power and commitment, getting both a booking and a hand in the opening goal. He combined with Mark to set up Christy for 1-0.
In the circumstances I think we played pretty well. Mark has us well organised and he himself once again led by example. Defensively we kept them very much at bay despite having our centre back in goal for most of the game. Joe was outstanding and Chris and Matty Stanton settled well at centre back: Chris literally did not put a foot wrong and his brother continues to impress. We just failed to create real chances, lacking the extra running that being full strength would have delivered (this is the common complaint at this level: how often can you get your best eleven out?). Actually we didn’t come that close, nothing would quite drop and the saw it home. Best Wishes to Phil and Pete and the Zion lads.