Wrington Redhill Reserves vs Burnham United “A”
26 October 2014 2.30pm
The reserves extended their unbeaten start to the season to seven games as they began this season’s cup campaign with victory over opposition from Division 2. Wrington were hoping to continue to enjoy the success they had experienced in the knock-out competitions last term, winning one, reaching the semi-finals of another and giving the side the opportunity to measure their progress against teams from higher divisions.
Manager Julian Moss made it clear that the league was his priority, but nevertheless he was able to field a strong side for the first game of the Atwell Shield competition, welcoming back Kyle Selman into midfield, with the injured Louis Rouvrais making way in the only change in starting line-up from the previous outing.
Winning is a habit and the home side looked in no mood to compromise away from the league, starting brightly and creating several half-chances with some slick passing. It took all of 5 minutes for the home side to take the lead – Tom Johnson picking the ball up on the edge of the box and firing low towards the Burnham net. Despite initially making a good save to scoop the ball up onto the crossbar, the Burnham keeper appeared helpless as spin on the ball saw it bounce back over the line.
It was unclear whether the away side had under-estimated the threat Wrington would pose and expected to win comfortably, but their lack of preparation and warm-up showed as more chances came in quick succession for the home side, who earned a series of corners as the Burnham keeper kept his side in the game with some fine saves, the best of which came against the luckless Chris Vowles, who must have thought his top-corner effort was in, coming after a lighting quick counter-attack from Wrington and intelligent pull-back from Kyle Selman.
Before long Johnson had his second as Wrington dominated – slotting home calmly after a clever back-heel from Joe Moore which followed another Wrington corner. The only downsides in a comfortable first half were a recurrence of Phil Hartnup’s niggling hamstring injury which saw him replaced by Dan Burnett, and the fact that the game had not been fully put beyond doubt.
The second period was a complete contrast to the first, as Wrington struggled to find the same rhythm and intensity, and were guilty of over-complicating things and sending simple passes astray. Some credit is due to the Burnham management for making it more difficult for Wrington’s midfield three of Burnett, Moore and Mick Edmunds to play, by bringing their brightest outlet back into midfield.
Even so, the home side’s defence and keeper James Vowles were largely untroubled, save for a couple of free-kicks in dangerous positions, as they looked to secure a remarkable fourth consecutive clean sheet. There was even the freedom for both Nick Curtis and Phil Williams to make forays forward as the game drew on, the latter earning the Man of the Match award, narrowly beating the tireless Paul Faulkner to the award, who put in an excellent shift all afternoon, covering a large amount of ground and protecting the defence well. Even more remarkable is that when defender Callum Briggs was substituted for former captain Nick Buck on the hour mark, he had still yet to concede a goal this season!
Despite not showing the same drive or determinism to score again in the second period, the game seemed to be drifting to a comfortable Wrington win until the home side’s lethargy almost let Burnham extend the game into extra-time. On 80 minutes a loose pass gifted the Burnham forward a sight at goal, which he took with aplomb, drilling the ball into the top corner from the edge of the box. Moments later, another mistake saw the Burnham forward presented with the simplest of chances to score into an empty net, which he inexplicably fired over the crossbar. As the away side suddenly believed they could get something out of the game, Wrington had to dig deep, and had Selman to thank for deflecting a powerful goal-bound strike over the bar. In the end, Wrington clung on to a result that in truth should have been put beyond doubt long before, with another cup game awaiting the team next week.
FULL TIME Wrington 2-1 Burnham
Wrington: J. Vowles, Briggs (Buck), Williams (C), Curtis, Johnson, Faulkner, Moore, Edmunds, Hartnup (Burnett), Selman, C. Vowles (McMullen).