Holmer lose out to last minute equaliser
Another 17 year-old makes debut and excels
Match Report, Saturday 2nd September 2017
SSML Premier Division
Stotfold 1 Holmer Green 1
Greens made the long journey up the A1 to Roker Park (no not that one) in Bedfordshire on Saturday for their match against Stotfold and having taken a deserved lead felt themselves unfortunate to only return with a point with the home side equalised in the last minute of normal time.
It’s still the early part of the season when most clubs are struggling to field a settled side and Manager Allen was forced into another three changes to the starting eleven following Tuesday’s encouraging performance at Welwyn. Two more debutants with Luca Gaster in goal and Sam Sharples in midfield and Couch back upfront. Seventeen year old Gaster made a few appearances for Holmer’s Allied side the season before last and is a fine prospect as is the man he replaced, Tom Wilson.
In truth the first half produced little of note with both sides struggling to put together any flowing passing football and good chances were at a premium as a consequence. An early drive from distance by fullback Barnes drifted wide carefully watched by Gaster and Holmer replied with Couch blasting well over. As the game entered the twenty minute period Greens began to see more of the ball and tried to take the initiative with Parsons and Bradley both making good runs forward on the flanks with Bradley working himself into three or four shooting opportunities although failing to hit the target with any. One run from Parsons led to a period of three corners in as many minutes and from one a defender did well to concede again when challenged by Alex Murray. Soon after following another forage forward by Parsons saw his pull back from the goaline drift agonisingly behind two Greens forward in the box and the ball cleared.
Holmer continued to look the more likely to open the scoring as the half progressed when Stone received a pass from Sharples in midfield and fired a twenty-five yarder just wide and then quick thinking by Gaster released Britnell who fed Couch who forced another a corner. Couch was again invited to create problems when Parsons played a great ball to him down the middle, but he was unable to hold off two defenders and the ball was cleared back upfield. A minute from the interval Greens at last forced a save from Fallon in the home goal when Gilbert laid the ball off to Wooster on the edge of the area, but he didn’t get a good shot away on his left foot although Fallon held the effort low down albeit at the second attempt.
After the restart Holmer continued on the offensive and following a probing Wooster run across the area, Bradley fired over. A rare home attack saw Croucher fire a speculative effort from out on the right drift just past the far post with Gaster looking on nervously. The best chance of the game to date came on sixty-three minutes when the Stotfold defence failed to deal with a long throw by Lines and Gilbert was provided with a great opportunity a yard out, but instead of heading the ball he reached out a leg and somehow sent the ball agonisingly over the far-post.
On sixty-five minutes the deadlock was finally broken with Greens deservedly taking the lead when a good quick passing exchange after Sharples collected the ball in midfield, fed Couch whose neat pass enabled Matt Wooster to draw the keeper and confidently slide the ball into an empty net.
Stotfold responded immediately and a good run by Ellis enabled him to cut in along the Greens goaline, but his low cross was well held by the diving Gaster. Couch had another chance when a great header by Bradley set him away but he was again out muscled by the home defence.
As the match entered the final period Greens looked confident of holding onto their lead with the home side creating little to worry a solid defence in which the three central defenders and two full/wing backs had been well disciplined for the most part. However, with a minute of normal time left, this confidence was outdone. Having possession in the Stotfold half a stray pass was lost and allowed Salvaggio to make ground on the left, cut back and hit a speculative raking shot into the far top corner of the net giving Gaster no chance. To concede so late after this one piece of poor defensive play was a bitter pill to swallow, especially in a game where neither goalkeeper had any shots of note to save.
There are definite signs of improvement being shown in recent performances with this primarily youthful side and if Holmer can produce a little more quality in midfield and conjure up a goalscoring forward from somewhere results should start to improve. However, it’s also so important to get their strongest eleven on the pitch all at the same time as often as possible, always a major challenge.
Team: Luca Gaster, Ryan Parsons, Ben Bradley, Gary Lines ©, Alex Murray, James Britnell, Curtis Stone, Sam Sharples, Aaron Couch, Rikki Tagoe-Gilbert, Matt Wooster.
Substitute Used: Michael Davies, James Burrell, Raiqwan Joseph.
Substitutes Not Used: Mason Scott, & Anthony Tyson.
Report by John Ostinelli