3rd Xl - Gel as a team once more
By Paul Linaker
Better late than never...
Sutton Valence 3rd Xl 7 : 1 Tunbridge Wells Monarchs 4th Xl
Valence 3rds gel as a team, returning to form late in the season
With a recent losing streak and the disappointment of snow last weekend, Valence were looking to get back to winning ways as they welcomed back Tom Bartlett from University, and needed some of Tom’s youth and skill to craft a win. During the team talk Skipper Mark Whitmill said he felt we would take all 3 points today, it was now down to the team to deliver that.
They started the game coming out the blocks quickly, with a short sharp passing game that paid dividends early in the half. It was this style of play that had been lacking earlier in the season. Valence struck twice in the first 10 minutes (Chris Sheldon), both well worked goals from open play. The game settled down a little, but with Sutton Valence always in control of the ball, and with the work rate from the likes of Tom Bartlett attacking and then getting back for defensive duties, the Valence goal keeper was only troubled once during the half. As the half ended, Valence scored another 2 goals (Dave Lewis and Chris Sheldon) and took a 4 nil advantage into half time, along with the guarantee that Chris Sheldon’s early hat trick had already secured a jug behind the bar for after the game.
The half time talk revolved around not being complacent, doing more of the same and tightening up on some of the gaps in the middle of the pitch.
The second half started much like the first, where Sutton Valence came out the blocks to try and take the sting out of the Tunbridge Wells’ team talk. It appeared to work, as Valence returned back to the rhythm of play that gave them the advantage earlier in the game. It wasn’t long before they had put another 2 goals in, one from open play and one from a short corner (Andy Barr & Chris Sheldon). It wasn’t all one-way traffic during the half though as Tunbridge Wells started to show a little bit of the form they had in the previous encounter and scored, when they broke down the right wing and shot a pass across the goal to their striker at the back post; they’d clawed one back. With the game coming to a close, Valence took one final chance with Ben Grabham picking the ball up at the top of the D and showing the close quarter skills he has, moving the ball quickly left and right for what felt like an eternity, Tunbridge Wells were desperately trying to not give away a short corner, but also weren’t putting in any tackles. Finally, Ben gained a short that was saved, but he was able to pick up the rebound and finally put it in the back of the net.
The game ended with SV winning 7-1. They’d played like the team they knew they could be, as a unit that just worked well together. From an individual perspective man of the match was difficult to award because of so many great individual performances, which made for a great team performance. Andy Barr had unselfishly set up so many of the goals, but in the end it was awarded to Tom Bartlett for his outstanding play in both attack and defence.
MoM: Tom Bartlett
Goals: Chris Sheldon (4), Andy Barr, Ben Grabham, Dave Lewis
Team: Finlay Wishart, Mark Whitmill, Ben Grabbam, Dave Lewis, Ben Tragett, Tom Harris, Chris Sheldon,
Dylan Queen, Alex Pocock, James Willmott, Andy Barr, Tom Bartlett .
Umpire: I SImmons