Firstly, a word about the ref. From the off, he took time to explain all the decisions to the boys, pulling them up for foul throws and ensuring they all knew why he’d blown the whistle - but still let the game flow. If only Mike Dean could take a leaf out of his book. But that’s another story!
We lined up at an unfamiliar time, but more welcome than the previously proposed 8.45am. Thomas O’Dwyer and Kye Mattock coming into the squad for Sammy Hill and Luke Brown. After the resounding 5-0 away win the week before hopes were high, first home game of the season against a team we’d done well against before.
For the first ten minutes, we were excellent, Gregor Bulmer running the game from the middle of the park. Some good early possession led to a good chance for Charlie Healey, weaving into the box which led to a corner. The ball was floated over, a quick scramble and Billy Griffin fired in the rebound off the Bingham keeper to open his account for the season. This sparked Bingham into life, and after a sustained period of pressure they equalised. A throw-in wasn’t cleared and a shot from distance went in. 1-1, but plenty of time left to rectify that.
Changes were made mid-way through the first half, with James Peyton and Aaron Statham coming on for Charlie and Kye, and Thomas moving from right to left back with Will moving the other way. Not long after this Bingham hit the post, a warning of things to come as it turned out. A sustained period of Bingham camping outside our penalty box and a succession of corners led to their second goal, and Bingham could sense some nerviness in our game. Some robust (ahem!) defending resulted in us conceding a penalty which fortunately came back off the post with the resulting rebound hit well wide. Cue a collective sigh of relief!
The first half ended with us 2-1 down, a good start but fighting fires at the end.
Early on in the second half, Oscar made a great save under serious pressure from the Bingham forwards, but the warnings from the first half weren’t heeded and they got a third – there was a hint of offside about it but the linesman’s flag (cheers, Mark!) stayed pointed downwards. Not long after that more woe as we didn’t clear effectively again and they got another. After a shot from distance looped over our unlucky keeper (1-5) we got some chance for revenge as Charlie was hauled back after a trademark lung bursting run into the box. The ref wasn’t fooled by the protestations of the guilty player and James Carlton despatched the penalty with aplomb and spirits were raised. James took over from Gregor as the driving force in midfield in the second half and following his example we were much stronger in the tackle, much more direct and we played with renewed vigour.
After a bit of a formation change that saw Will up front and Kye at the back, with James Carlton commanding the midfield we piled the pressure on Bingham, leaving them no choice but to attack on the counter, a marked change from their first half performance. Unfortunately however, their clinical finishing after a corner led to a final goal (2-6).
Overall, it was an odd game that wasn’t reflected in the scoreline but a harsh lesson learnt. It’s still very early in the season and there’s a lot of football to be played – we won’t be dwelling on this result but we need to learn from it and ensure we work on the areas where we need to.
(By my reckoning, that’s a good twelve or thirteen clichés in that report, a solid start.)