Match Report by Tony Dwyer
Fighting Fives Cause a Stir
Another game, another brand-new line-up. Such is the lot of Fives’ Skip, Ian Wilson. Nonetheless, the first game of 2019 saw us bolstered by the experience of Messrs Lane, Bettridge, Jackman and Matt Ballentine-Brain. And this game saw a Sils debut for new man, Ross Anderson, who will hopefully be a fixture for us for the rest of the season! Welcome to the Fives, Ross - we need you!
New season, new zest, and the Fighting Fives started quickly, with our young guns leading bright attacking forays into the Hampton half. For seven/eight minutes, led by them, we were by far the better team. But it was Hampton that scored! That old, old, old, sucker-punch - a man on the far post from their first short corner of the game, simply only had to make contact with a hard flat ball, aimed straight at him. Nil -One, and the pattern of the game was set. Sils attacking relentlessly, half-backs getting drawn forward in support, then a quick ball out of the Hampton defence found nobody but centre and full-backs at home. Two, three, four, five-nil down, with half-time still 5 minutes away.
Then finally, all our repeated attacking play cracked the Hampton defence! Full back Jonny Dugdale sped all the way down the left wing, then continued all the way round the corner to the edge of the D, before poking the ball into the box. Tony Dwyer, arriving speedily, overran the ball, but whilst lesser men ( Keith Willetts...?), might have flustered and flapped, The Whippet coolly contorted backwards, and managed to persuade the ball forwards with just enough momentum for it to dribble, bobble, and agonisingly meander, over the line! Home fans erupted, and as their anthems echoed around the ground, Umpires Rich Fell and Jonno manfully held the line from over-eager supporters intent on invading the pitch! A fantastic Jonny Dugdale run created the goal entirely on his own, with Dwyer adding the finish. The Fighting Fives were on the move in 2019!
The half-time whistle followed immediately, and our goal ensured a rousing team talk from captain, Ian. Sam Huckin, manfully stepping up to play in goal for us this day, selflessly claimed to have been at fault for two of Hampton’s five but appealed for more protection. But in all honesty, Sam, I couldn’t really see you’d been left with much chance for any of them! We hadn’t defended well and Ian urged his midfielders to remember the defensive side of our team duties.
But fresh from our goal, the Fighting Fives surged forward with renewed vigour at the start of the second half and, after only five minutes, added a second! Strong attacking down the right earned us an early short corner. The pre-short huddle ensued, and a clear plan laid down, which Sils proceeded to coolly execute, exactly as Andy Jackman envisaged, resulting in Jem Perry slotting home emphatically! A really super finish!
And as”You’ll Never Walk Alone” deafened around the ground, make no mistake, Sils were back in this! But we just couldn’t capitalise, and find the third goal that might have really caused Hampton to wobble. We pinned Hampton in their own half for the next ten minutes, repeatedly getting the ball back from their increasingly frantic attempts to clear. But Hampton then pinged another quick accurate ball out of their defence, catching us again over-committed to our constant attacking play, and scored their sixth, thus killing the game off.
The post match brains trust in the bar afterwards included Wilson, Ffitch, Bettridge, Dwyer and Fell, and Ian rued our defensive performance. Discipline and shape was certainly lacking, but with the team changing, often pretty much completely, week on week, this is certainly harder to achieve. Much promise up front, though and I think any of our youngsters could claim to have been MOTM, but for the sheer amount of running he put in, Kheya Ballantine-Brain earns this week’s Man of The Match.