Old Reptonians vs Old Marlburians - Arthurian League Division 1
Squad: Fell, Kniveton, Mann, Al Evans, Lane, Monro-Jones, Redfern, Blackwood, Slack, Watson (c), McIntosh, O'Callaghan, Luke Samra, Bishton
After last season was cut shot by Covid19 I am delighted to be writing a match report and confirming competitive football is well and truly back for the Old Reptonians Football Club!
The boys have been put through their paces by new player/coach Nicky Samra who is sidelined for the time being recovering from an ankle injury. With added appetite for football and fitness following lockdown the ORs had a decent pre-season behind them going into the opening game of the campaign against a strong side Old Marlburians.
The ORs have moved ground and the sun was shining at their new home at Club Des Sports near Acton West London. As is the way these days the turf is a state of the art 4G artificial grass and it will certainly play into the ORs hands if they can replicate the passages of play last Saturday.
The ORs started the brighter of the two sides. Having workied hard on a new formation in pre-season on a new set up and style of play the ORs opted for the 3-5-2 formation which stifled the tricky Marlburian players that were highlighted before the game. The freedom and space the ORs had on the wings was being exploited by the wing backs Monro-Jones and Fraser Lane and the ORs were starting to get some crosses into the box for the attackers.
The first notable chance fell to Redfern after Al Evans caught OMs napping with a clever ball over the top spotting Redfern's run. Sadly Redfern lifted his shot a little too high over the bar but a good sign of intent.
The ORs were now starting to see more of the ball and attack in waves down the flanks to great effect. The midfield three of Redfern, Slack and Blackwood were linking up nicely with centre forwards McIntosh and Watson. The OR's needed to strike while on top. More good work down the right from Lane using his pace forced a corner for the ORs 15 minutes into the game. Al Evans swung a "come and head me" cross into the 6 yard box for Ricky Kniveton
to rise like a salmon and put into the net for 1-0 from the resulting corner.
Ten minutes later the ORs were dealt a blow as Al Evans was "uncharacteristically" sin-binned by the referee. Turns out referees don't seem to like being told in no uncertain terms how to do their job better... This meant the ORs would have to play 10 minutes a man down undder the new FA guidelines for the Arthurian League.
Initially they were able to cope well and managed to stop OMs from taking advantage of the extra man. Sadly they forced a corner and managed to score themselves from the set piece. The ORs must feel they should have dealt better with the ball in having gone straight across the 6 yard box. 1-1.
Once back to full compliment again the ORs were bailed out from excellent heroics from their Keeper to stop OMs taking the lead with their best chance of a second. Good work down the left by the OM winger lead to a low cross delivered to the advancing forward. He hammered the shotr on target but smart work saw the ball tripped around the post to keep the ORs level. An excellent stop.
The ORs were putting a lot of neat passes together now and were knocking on the door once again. They got their noses back in front with the move of the match. McIntosh finishing and ending a great move Alan Shearer would be proud of seeing from any centre forward. With his back to goal McIntosh dropped the ball off to Blackwood who neatly slotted in Redfern down the left. Redfern beat his man to cut back on his right foot and deliver an inviting cross into the near post, where Callum McIntosh
rose powerfully to head the ball across goal and put the ORs in front. Excellent work from last seasons top scorer and good to be off the mark so early in this campaign. 2-1 ORs Half-time.
A pleasing first half display from the ORs in a tough match. Samra delivered his instructions to the team at half time to keep believing in each other and keep wanting the ball. Sadly Ricky Kniveton damaged his shoulder in a challenge and had to be replaced meaning the back three that had played well as unit was altered. Lane was moved alongside Mann and Evans which saw Bishton come onto the right wing back role. O'Callaghan was also introduced that gave the ORs a different dynamic to the good hold up play by McIntosh and Watson.
While the ORs couldn't play as much passing football as they did at times in the first half they were managing the game well. Bishton had two good chances to head the ORs in front from identical Al Evans corners but they couldn't capitalise. Jamie Slack having a good game in the middle also tested the keeper from distance and McIntosh also nearly got his second when he latched onto a poor pass from the OM keeper.
The ORs got some breathing space again with their third and what turned out to be deciding goal of the game. Redfern passes it into O'Callaghan's feet who swivelled past his opposite man. It looked as though O'Callaghan was going to take the shot on however Jamie Slack
arrived on the scene with the momentum of his run and took a few touches before slotting clinically into the bottom left hand corner and give the ORs some much needed breathing space. 3-1.
The ORs could have made it 4-1 but O'Callaghan couldn't quite get enough on his shot to direct it goalwards. With injuries and cramp hitting a few players in the dying embers of the game the ORs had to reorganise again. Monro-Jones was struck with a hamstring injury so Luke Samra and Mike Watson did well taking it in shifts to do the leg work on the left-hand-side. While at centre back the ORs were struck a blow when Lane couldn't shift the cramp in his calf and had to be replaced. The old warhorse Ricky Kniveton refused to be beaten by his shoulder injury and slotted back in alongside Mann and Evans to see out the final minutes and make sure OMs weren't given a sniff.
3-1 it finished in the end and overally a very positive opening performance for the ORs. With a new formation it can take time to gel, but after ironing out some kinks in pre-season the ORs looked in spells really dangerous with the new formation. While only one game in they can take some serious positives from that game against a side who comfortably beat us twice in the league last year.
The second half especially, saw a real maturity to the ORs game that has been lacking in previous years. They were also clinical when needed, but still created a fair few chances. The fact the ORs limited a normally dangerous team to mainly set-pieces for their source of goals was testament to the teamwork on the pitch.
The beers in the pub afterwards tasted that little bit better with the three points in the bag. A Saturday is always better with a win!
It was even more pleasing to have an old captain in support in Tim Lambert and his new 10 month old Alfie getting his first taste of OR action. He can be seen taking on the half-time team talk below from The Gaffer. We've all got to start somewhere...