Late changes mean much-changed side
Half-time positional changes can't overcome the concession of four goals in 23 first-half minutes, against the favourites for the League title.
With The Greens forced into at least four late changes, and playing away to the big-spending League title favourites, this result will have surprised few people. The various permutations tried during the game by the visitors never reversed the damage done, mainly through right-wing man Bond, in 20 or so first-half minutes. Ryan Parsons, Alex Murray, Leo Blackmore, and Alex Rice were all missing from the expected line-up. There were debuts for forward Pawel Kotwica, and defender Johan Rennamo. Dan Hunt made his first appearance of the season following facial surgery. Martin Lancaster made his first start, and his second appearance, while home from University. The pitch was soft and cut up badly from the off. All this favoured in-form Citizens, and they immediately tore into the away side. With Holmer playmaker Matt Wooster picking up an early injury, City took the lead on 14 minutes when The Greens were virtually down to ten men. A corner was only half-cleared twice, and the ball fell to Spaul who found the corner of the goal with a low shot from 20 yards. With Wooster forced to come off, on 25 minutes Kotwica played in Martin Lancaster whose low shot was smothered by May. City went straight to the other end and forced a corner. Luca Gaster was crowded out, and Boodhoo almost apologetically headed the ball home without really jumping from a few yards out. During this period Bond was giving Oscar Harrison a torrid time in front of the clubhouse. On 34 minutes he got clear again and this time finished off the break himself, despite Gaster’s fine attempt to save. After Kotwica had gone close with a near-post header, another right-wing attack led to City’s fourth goal on 39 minutes. Holmer had already swopped Harrison for Lancaster at left-back. But the only further significant incident before the interval ended in a caution for one player from each side. Inevitably, right in front of the dug-outs. HT 4-0
The Greens used the half-time break to re-organise their makeshift line-up, and this proved to be well done. Rennamo moved to left-back, with Lancaster pushing forward. Harrison moved over to the right, with Hunt dropping back to partner Jamie Britnell. This combination worked much better, and the loss of Gary Lines, serving a one-match suspension, was not so keenly felt in the second half. On 54 minutes it was obviously not going to be the visitors’ day. A Curtis Stone corner was headed onto the face of the crossbar, at the near post, by Harrison. Britnell was first to react from a similar position. But his aerial effort rebounded off the far side of the bar and was cleared. The Citizens made several substitutions, but failed to get up the head of steam that decided the game before the break. Kotwica had a good effort saved by May, and there was a short run-out for Rikki Tagoe-Gilbert. His first appearance since injury at Stotfold in September. One stray ball, given away when playing out from the back on 83 minutes, led to City’s final goal.
Team: Gaster, Kieran Cathline, Harrison, Stone, Rennamo, Britnell ©, Tom Peddle-James, Hunt, Kotwica, Wooster, Lancaster.
Substitutes Used: Anthony Tyson, & Gilbert.
Substitutes Not Used: Jonty Summerell, & Dean Munday.