Toolstation Western League Division One match report – Saturday 29th October 2016
Cheddar 3 Oldland Abbotonians 2
Games between these two clubs invariably have a competitive edge to them and this encounter was no different.
As the score line, would suggest, the match was a five goal Halloween thriller in which the Cheesemen extended their unbeaten run to seven games whereas the Abbots haven’t hit the ground running this term despite last season’s impressive finish.
Belying their lower mid-table position Oldland’s opened the stronger of the two sides, their danger man Tom Morgan threatening to cause havoc with an early misunderstanding in the home defence, Cheesemen striker Adam Jones being forced to play in goal due to a goalkeeping crisis on the day, and the striker turned-keeper was required to pull out all the stops twice in opening minutes.
Much of the visitors attacking forays were spurred through David Stone who was getting through an immense amount of work as the visitors forced three corners in the opening 20 minutes.
Settling into their stride, Cheddar increase the pace of the game and Callum Ham, playing central striker was unfortunate not to put his side in the lead twice on the half hour, receiving quality through balls on both occasions from Ricky Bennett and forcing Oldland’s agile ‘keeper Josh Dempsey into two top drawer saves.
Further attempts on aided abetted by Craig Mawford and the returning Lewis Matthews overlapping at will, were to be of no available as the Cheesesemen continued to develop territorial advantage, but as they continued to press a goal came on 43 minutes, Mark Armstrong’s overall industry being rightly rewarded with a good near post header in the net from Ricky Bennett’s precision corner.
Following the first half play of very much cat and mouse the pace of the game noticeably increased I the second half and shortly after the re-start Oldland’s excellent keeper dived swallow like to his left to keep out Bennett’s yard piledriver; minutes earlier Dempsey, probably one of the best ‘keeper’s seen at Bowdens Park so far this season, had closed down Billy Vaughan sufficiently well to put the midfielder off his stride after moving forward at pace after receiving Ham’s superb 50 yard crossfield pass.
Much to their credit the visitors were in no mood to lie down and on 65 minutes of this enthralling second half a mistake by a Cheddar defender allowed Morgan to dash into the area and slot neatly past Jones.
The visitors went on to score a second goal with the Cheesmen slow to clear their lines, on 74 minutes, Morgan’s close control taking him past a defender, and side stepping another to hit home his side’s and his own second goal.
As if stung by this second goal, this created instant positivity by the home side as their fought back with admirable defiance, and through the intelligent running of box-to-box player Armstrong, the technically clever Bennett and the tigerish instincts of captain George Booth, Cheddar equalised on 79 minutes, Booth latching on to substitute Tom Manning’s clever lay off, turned a defender and shot viciously past the keeper from 12 yards on 79 minutes.
2-2 and game on!
Substitute Tom Manning obviously back to his inventive best immediately on his introduction earlier had the impact of a super-sub, such was his industry and linking brilliantly with Bennett the flame-haired midfielder threaded through a quite brilliant ball to the on-running Bennett who hit home Cheddar’s winner through a crowd of players amidst scenes of celebration, as the Cheesemen defied the odds and celebrated all three points.
Cheddar man of the match: Mark Armstrong
Match ball sponsor: Steve Sage
Following the match, Cheddar manager Jared Greenhalgh said: “This was a welcome and in the end a hard-fought win. It is testament to the team that even with 10 minutes to go and 2-1 down we still had the desire and ability to steal the victory.
“Despite having seven absentees again, and having Jonah deputise in goal and having to change our system of play to suit the players available I still think we had the best of a scrappy first half and deserved the lead.
“Second half I think we were a little lacking in intensity and the game was drifting which is dangerous at 1-0 and we paid the price, with Oldland’s scoring two quick goals.
“I think changing to a 4-3-3 system made us more comfortable but more than that I think the goals sparked us into life and the pressure we exerted was excellent and the returning Lewis Matthews typified the desire with some great runs which led to the equaliser.
“It was a great shift by all 14 lads and we are unbeaten in 7 and looking to catch the top 3.”