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Away to Harold Wood

On Saturday the Vets travelled to the posh end of Romford to play Harold Wood Athletic.
Before the unfortunate events at Hastings, old King Harold used to while away many a happy hour here with a spot of hunting and fishing ..(probably). We were hoping to capture 3 points without getting one in the eye.
A couple of last-minute withdrawals meant we arrived with a squad of just 13, but boosted by the welcome return of Martin Saggers, who was probably hoping for nothing more strenuous than filling in his registration form.
From the whistle Wood started strongly and put us under early pressure. Stronger in the tackle, at headers, reacting at the second ball, chasing down the opposition, you name it, they were better.

We looked nervy when we did get possession and instant panic at the sight of a Harold Wood shirt meant we were unable to construct any positive attacks.
Inevitably, after a few near misses, the hosts took the lead.  Let's just call it communication breakdown, that presented their forward with an easy tap-in.1-0.
Almost immediately Sean Windeatt had to withdraw from the game with a thigh injury, and play was briefly suspended to allow his private jet to land and whisk him off to a team of crack medics in New York.  The goal seemed to release a valve in Wood and we began to get a foothold in the game. Taju and the two Martins causing real panic in the home defence.  Sagsy in particular being singled out for some "robust" attention.  Suhail Butt went close with a deft side footer that just cleared the bar and we started to grow in confidence.
Ironically the equaliser when it did come was courtesy of the referee.  Martin Treadway burst into the area and was blatantly obstructed, 22 players thought indirect free kick..the ref decides PENALTY...happy days..MARTIN TREADWAY..from the spot..1-1.

Half time arrived and after being on the end of some,let's say,vociferous advice from some of the Harold Wood players,the ref went to have his mistake confirmed by his colleague on the pitch next door.We tried to focus on the positives,few as they were..
We were back in the game...we had discovered that when we relaxed we were equal to them..and the cherry on the cake..downhill in the second half.  The game resumed with chances at both ends and two different styles of play becoming more apparent.  Passing and more patient..(too patient?) build up from us, hitting long passes behind the defence to quick running forwards from them.  Annoyingly we conceded needlessly.  Again indecision crept back into our play and a sucession of mistakes gifted Wood a second.2-1.  Credit to the lads, heads didn't drop and we were soon back on the front foot.  Mistakes began afflict the home side and we began to create plenty of chances, one of which led to a corner.  A left-footed in-swinger from Martin T was met by HILARY FRANCIS, whose powerful header burst the back of the net.2-2.
This seemed to really shake the hosts and for the next 15-20 minutes we looked like the team to go on and win it.  All round the pitch the green shirts looked as though they were enjoying being there.  Goalkeeper Gary Doodes even indulging in his trademark forays upfield.  Yet though we  enjoyed a period of dominance, we never clicked up the gear required to go on and put the game out of sight. With around 15 to play Wood found a second wind, forcing a series of corners and poor marking at one of these allowed their centre-half an easy finish from close range.  3-2.  We pushed on, but the home side had the luxury of a full bench to freshen things up for the final quarter.  Chances came and went at both ends, with the hosts missing where they should have put the game beyond our reach.  At the final whistle, the disappointment was visible all round, which shows we all care, and there was a frank yet measured exchange of opinions.  We enjoyed a great opening day last week, but this game was a true yardstick for division 2.  We lived with tough side today and that  should give us confidence going on into the season.  We are a good team, we need to believe in ourselves.

Final score.
HAROLD WOOD ATHLETIC 3
HALE END ATHLETIC 2 
Team.G.Doodes S.Windeatt T.Burton H.Francis K.Whitworth B.Smith S.Butt P.Obinkwo T.Oyedeji M.Treadway M.Saggers P.Amico B.Howard  

Man of the match: HILARY FRANCIS
A quick word for our hosts. A great clubhouse and hospitality and a good bunch of lads.  No quarter asked and none given.
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