2nd Xl’s Chrises crush Acorns
By Paul Linaker
Leaves them in 4th place in the League
On a brisk but sunny morning in the village, the 2s were keen to show last week’s return to winning ways wasn’t a flash in the pan. They started in great form, pressurising the opposition, and showing much more confidence in team-mates, stringing together some great passing movements and making Oaks look like cones at times. It was from one such move that Valence took the lead. Fred Hubert and Ben Tragett working the ball nicely out of the left back area, spreading it right where after a couple of passes, Alex Hodges put a beautiful cross into the D, for Chris Stille to nip in to deflect past the keeper. Not long after, Valence went 2 up, when Tom Willson had a little wiggle in the D, before slipping the ball past the keeper to the far post, where Chris Sheldon got his weekly one-foot-away tap in. 2 up, Valence remained in the ascendancy generally, though the Sevenoaks youngsters were starting to show some nice moves, and having the odd threatening run. Generally though, Tragett was imperious in front of the defence, mopping up a lot the attacks, and when they got past him, Trigger was using his famed long barrier to good effect, picking them off at will. And on the one occasion that failed, Little Trigger came to the rescue, showing impressive length (or maybe girth?) to block an Oaks’ effort. Fred and Gareth were also solid at left and right back, keeping their opposite numbers under wraps, and being great outlets distributing out of defence.
Eventually though, Sevenoaks got themselves a penalty corner, and whilst Fin saved the first effort, the follow up flick was well placed into the net to bring Oaks back to within a goal. However, this spurred Valence on to greater efforts, and the two goal cushion was reinstated when Gareth Davies went on a barnstorming run up the right, putting a wonderful cross into the D, surprising both opposition and team mates alike, with the noted exception of Chris Stille, who put on the after burners, sliding in between two defenders to clip it into the net, with an even better finish than for his first.
So to half-time, where the general theme was ‘more of the same’. However, Sevenoaks had ideas of their own, and the first 15 minutes of the second half were evenly matched, with very much end to end action for the sizeable crowd, boosted by the visiting Sevenoaks’ parents. Valence’s defence were still standing firmer than Oaks, but the opposition were starting to force the action. For a 5-10 minute period they had numerous short corners. Some were a little controversial to say the least, causing some consternation in the Valence ranks. But in the absence of Dickie Turnill, and the longer term absence of Sonic, the team was somewhat lacking in the toy throwing department this week. Some tried to step up, but failed to show the foot stomping pedigree required, and so all 11 players remained on the pitch. The defence did a great job of keeping the penalty corners out, through saves from Fin, goal line saves from the defence, or ineptitude from the attackers, thus keeping the crucial two goal gap. After holding out so well, it was Valence’s turn to attack back, and they were far more successful. First yet another attack down the right led to new boy Graeme Smith putting a bullet of an early cross in, that deflected off a defender’s foot, slowing it down just enough for Sheldon to be able to neatly nutmeg the visiting keeper. And then two minutes later, the next attack had Seb O’Leary picking the ball up just outside the 25, where he produced a wonderful reverse pass, wrongfooting the Oaks’ defence, to allow Tom Willson to slip into the D, and in an almost replica of the 2nd goal, slip it past the keeper to the far post. There, with Sheldon once again trying to steal Willson’s goal, he showed his greater experience and won the initial race, getting a touch towards the net. However, the other Chris showed his greater pace, and had the last laugh, getting a final touch about 10cm from the line “just to make sure”. His hat trick sealed, and Sheldon condemned to yet another hat trick evasion jug. As for the wider story, in the blink of an eye it had gone from 3 to 5-1, and the win was secured.
There was still time, with a minute or two to go, for Sevenoaks to get a final short corner, and Valence’s banter with the umpire to finally produce a spell on the naughty step for Fred Hubert. This time they went for a flick from the top, beating Fin and the defenders on the line. One wonders why, with that as a possible weapon, they didn’t use it sooner, but we didn’t wonder for too long!
So, a 5-2 win in probably the best team performance of the season, and one that keeps the 2s just about in the frame for a very open league this year. The Chrises get the headlines for the goals, but it was really the strong defence that won it for Valence, keeping Oaks out at crucial points, and amazingly, not passing to the opposition centre forward for the first time in 4 games. Team is now up to 4th, and with games against 1st and 3rd, and mid table Gravesham still to come.
Goals: Chris Stille (3); Chris Sheldon (2)
MOM: Steve Parker just shading it from Ben Tragett. Special mention too for Chris Stille for both getting a hat trick and stopping Sheldon stealing from Willson again!
Team: Finlay Wishart, Fred Hubert, Steve Parker, Gareth Davies, Alex Hodges, Andy Barr, Tom Willson, Ben Tragett, Seb O’Leary, Chris Sheldon, Chris Stille, Graeme Smith, Andrew Wishart (for 30 brief but impressive seconds).
Umpire: Iain Simmons
Next week the 2nd Xl are away against Gravesham & Wellcome 2nd Xl, who are currently in 10th position.
Next week the 2nd Xl are away against Gravesham & Wellcome 2nd Xl, who are currently in 9th place.