January has been a challenging month for the first team, three away fixtures had seen a solitary, late late win against Cambridge Heath sandwiched between a couple of heavy losses. One of those was in the SAL Cup, against one of the founders of the football league and two divisions above us in the footballing hierarchy, so with the league being our renewed primary focus it was nice to finally get a home fixture.
There was a setback as our visitors scored from the first corner of the game, a second phase of play saw a cross from the opposite wing partially headed clear but falling to an overhead kick which breached the net to open the scoring. Undeterred we kept with our efforts to build from the back and play through the thirds. On 26 minutes Obi Ezeigwe picked up the ball (figuratively not literally) deep in our own half and went on an attacking run diagonally across the pitch to the edge of the penalty area, firing a left footed finish to beat the keeper on his left and get us back to parity. It was an excellent goal, with his bursts from deep threatening to end with such a flourish for some time.
The second half saw us assert our domination of play from the second minute as a short corner routine between Luke Moore and Akim Tiyamiyu on the left eventually coming to Kallam Dunn via a cut back. A couple of yards outside of the penalty spot, Dunn took an extraordinary decision to attempt a backheel which hit the onion bag to the astonishment of everyone witnessing it.
Having wrested the initiative from our opponents with two astounding pieces of individual brilliance it was nice to get back on track with the epitome of team goals. In an effort to break our persistent pressing style of play a speculative long ball forward from Richmond was anticipated by our goalkeeper Dan Bank who cleared the danger into the centre circle where it was met by Andre Nicolaou. He turned to face the opponent's goal he spotted and passed to Andrew Robson out on the right wing, who immediately ran at the defence and drove an early reverse ball into the centre of the area which met the perfectly timed run of Louis Brown who steered it wide of the keeper to give us a two goal cushion. Three passes and a near post finish in a matter of seconds must have warmed the cockles of head coach Brendan Kelly and his philosophy of pass and move, playing from the back and trusting your teammates.
The game might have switched as we blotted the copybook a bit. A missed tackle at left back led to a ball into the centre which was fluffed by both sides in front of goal but met the incoming run from the other flank where the untracked runner, who had a relatively simple finish to get the score to 3-2. As things turned out it made little difference, our pressing and variety of play meant a plethora of chances and, if anything, disbelief that the score was only added to by an own goal, headed by one of their defenders as the umpteenth cross into the box, this time from a Robson free-kick, proved a bridge too far.
On another day we might have won by a greater margin, had we taken some of the many chances we made, one particular passage of play saw the ball come back our way from the post and the crossbar before not registering as a goal, such are the fine margins between success and failure. I'll take the points for now, which keeps us challenging at the upper end of the division. We need to keep the wins coming in and hope that the top of the table let things slip a bit, in the meantime we have to focus on a six pointer against the Bank of England next to keep the hope alive.