Despite shortages on both sides, there was keenness for the game to go ahead, particularly from Valence, whose previous week’s game had been cancelled due to snow.
Sunbury & Walton had managed to persuade one of their players to pad-up and go in goal, had got an umpire, but could only manage 8 players in total. Valence, after getting Rob Harrison to step in and play a second game, were at 10, so Paul Linaker volunteered to play for the visitors to even the numbers.
With fewer players there is always more space on the field, but further to run to use it. In the early stages of the game Valence seemed to be using the space well and getting through more effectively to challenge the visitors’ goal. But the stand-in keeper was showing real promise, supported by his defence, and Sunbury were quick on the break. It was in one of these that they got clear and in a one on one with the Valence keeper the Sunbury forward won. 0 : 1. Valence were not slow to respond with some solid attacking out of mid-field allowing John Dinnis to get through to equalise with a cracking shot. 1 : 1.
The battle continued in similar style with Valence building attacks and Sunbury breaking away and threatening at the other end. The only other similarity was the way in which both teams squandered scoring opportunities, by hitting at the keepers, the posts or wide. Linaker’s attempt was one of the latter, but only just! Half-time arrived with no further score.
The second half saw the visitors change their formation slightly, to try to build their attacks down the right, though this was only partly successful. They did however manage to pull another goal out of the bag to go 1 : 2 ahead again. Initially, as Valence tried even harder to get back on terms, the omens did not look good, as their attacks repeatedly failed at the final stages from poor shots. Then Rob Harrison steadied the ship by cracking one in from the edge of the dee, to make it 2 : 2. Valence now began to look a little more like they might actually win, though Sunbury were not slow to take up any opportunities, hitting the post with one good approach. Rupert Humphrey finally got his eye in and took Valence into the lead, 3 : 2, and in the final stages of the game Rob Harrison looped a ball over the keeper and it ‘bobbled’ past a defender into the goal. 4 : 2. Finally a solid win, but oh how they made it hard work to achieve.
Goals: John Dinnis; Rob Harrison (2); Rupert Humphrey.
Man of the Match: Rob Harrison.
Team: Dave Britton, Bob Sagrott, John Dinnis, Rob Harrison, Hamish Dow, Julian Mills, Stuart Bates, Rupert Humphrey, Charlie Worsfold.
Paul Linaker played for the opposition.
Umpire: Bob Bartlett
Report by Paul Linaker
Next week the Vets play away at Ashford, Middlesex at 12.00.