1st Xl win tough game
By Paul Linaker
Maintain lead in League by 1 point
Sometimes you’ve just got to make sure you win, no matter how ugly and games against Ashford seem as unattractive as they come.
From the early exchanges it was apparent the visitors were the stronger side despite Ashford winning the first short-corner of the game. A low diving save from the Valence keeper gloved away the drag flick for a long corner which the defence then cleared without further ado. It took Valence 20 minutes to take the lead, Andrew Turnill scoring with a drag flick from the visitors' fourth short-corner of the game, which was deserved, having dominated play to that point. The lead wasn’t held for long though, when the home team won their second short corner, they beat Young’s diving effort and short-sighted Bawden, on the line, who was unable to get stick to ball and prevent it hitting his foot. The subsequent p-flick was well taken and drew the sides level.
The remainder of the half continued in the same manner, Valence dominating possession but unable to capitalise while play was punctuated by hand bags, and verbal volleys. Cards could have been brandished for a number of over-exuberances but remained in the home umpire’s pocket. Valence were having a bad day at the office, reverting to the way they’d played at the beginning of the season and dropping to the opposition’s standard.
A few choice words at half-time from the joint skippers seemed to have the desired effect with Johnny Walker confidently hitting the backboard 5 minutes after the re-start. A culmination of great team interplay across the pitch from the left then down the right to the back line and the perfectly directed cross, met by a well-timed run by Johnny Walker. The visitors lead restored and battle lines drawn between the 23s, the second half ensued with the home team spurred on by local support and desperate to balance the scoreboard again. The Valence midfield rallied and the defence braced, scrambling the attacks away with the final back-stop called upon to prevent a final breach on a couple of occasions. Chances were missed and saved at each end, both goalies making sure the scorer was untroubled. Late in the second half Ashford’s ever vocal captain and centre forward, found himself in possession and unmarked on the edge of the D, centre-left, his right wing unmarked at the back post. Shot fired and either goal bound or to his awaiting cohort, the visiting keeper, stretched out his left leg, getting just enough of his kicker on the ball to deflect it away for a long corner. Agony etched on the home team faces as this was the closest they came to scoring all game and perhaps the final realisation the game was now beyond their reach.
The visitors weren’t to be outdone in the final exchanges though and sought to impose their final mark on the game before it came to a close. Awarded a short corner in the dying minutes, Valence’s attack gathered at the top of the D and agreed the strategy. Turnill dummied the drag flick, pushing fast and right of the goal to where McVarish had run, controlling his deflection into the goal past despairing defenders and goalie to seal the victory.
The final whistle was sweet relief from a game thwart with tempers and verbal angst.
Three deserved away points for Sutton Valence, maintaining their lead at the top of the table.
Goals: Andrew Turnill; Johnny Walker; Fred McVarish
Team: Stewart Young, Russell Blanchard, Fred McVarish, Alex Hodges, Lewis Mitchell, Charlie Humphrey, Marcus Bawden, Brett Angel, Jack Davies, Kevin Kirkham, Andrew Turnill, and Johnny Walker.
Umpire: Andrew Wishart
Next week the 1st Xl play at home against Old Bordenian 3rd Xl (currently lying 5th)
Match Report by Stewart Young.