CHEDDAR FOOTBALL CLUB WEEKEND REVIEW
Toolstation Western League Division One match report
Saturday 29th April 2017
DEVIZES TOWN 2 CHEDDAR 0
After a season of so much promise the Cheesemen ended their season with a disappointing defeat and display at mid-table Devizes on Saturday.
Failing to score themselves for the first time in nine games this was not the result that Cheddar would have wanted to round off their season.
It was unfortunate that manager Jared Greenhalgh was left with just fourteen fit players for this final game of the season but in truth, this Cheddar side should have had two much skill amongst those available players to secure the points at Nursteed Road but after dominating the match for long periods in the first half and playing possession football for a good deal of that time without going in front, one wondered that the longer the game went on if the home side, who had produced a good win against fourth placed Keynsham Town and had taken a point from champions elect Wellington, would have the spirit to snatch a goal, even two, which is exactly what happened.
Demonstrating their undoubted prowess, Cheddar started the game well enough, moving up through the gears and causing their Wiltshire opponents to back pedal on more than enough occasions as proceedings got underway.
Hardly had the game kicked off when a long Joe Grant throw had the Devizes defence in all kinds of trouble, captain Adam Jones muscling past the defence and laying a sweet ball into the path of Kristian Bell who forced goalkeeper Adam Walters to go full length, then on 11 minutes a beautifully flighted Ricky Bennett 30-yard free kick was caught full on by Danny Griffiths but the big defender’s headed effort went wide of the post.
With less than 15 minutes played came a moment in the match that many will feel majorly disrupted Cheddar’s performance, their defensive midfielder and talisman for much of the season, Mark Armstrong suffering the effects of a shocking tackle that left him writhing in pain and literally a passenger for the remainder of the half (after which he was substituted), the match official surprisingly only administering a yellow card to the perpetrator.
The incident had a noticeably unsettling effect on the visitors as they could well have gone behind twice in the following five minutes.
Cheddar could have gone behind had it not been for the wild and inaccurate shooting firstly by Ali Bradley, then Tom Slater when both players were clean through. Some indecision seemed to occur in the Cheddar backline for ten minutes or so before they settled down again to play the fluent football which has so often been the hallmark of their season; another superb move started and finished by Bennett, evading two tackles before finding Jones who had his effort saved by Walters.
Twice in the next three minutes Cheddar ought to have taken the lead firstly after Coombs and Bell had jointly caused difficulties to the Devizes defence, the latter forcing the keeper to save dramatically on his goal-line before a further incisive Bennett cross found Robbi Maggs in front of goal, but the in-form striker, with four goals in his last five appearances, delayed his strike attempt and the danger was cleared.
On the half hour Devizes were unfortunate themselves not to go in front, Tom Slater’s angled strike from just inside the 18-yard box being pushed over the bar by ‘keeper Webster before, just two
minutes later, with the Cheddar backline retreating, Ashley Lock latched on to Dan Sloan’s sideways pass but blazed high and wide when well placed.
Again, Cheddar raised their performance level and Maggs, Jones and Bennett were all off target with efforts as the match hurtled towards the break.
To the neutral it was a matter of time before the third placed Cheesemen were to go in front to seal the game and the points, and minutes after the turnaround a superb low cross from Maggs found Coombs in space but the goalkeeper somehow got his foot to the ball before the Cheddar winger could fire the trigger on the rebound.
On 55 minutes Maggs had a further effort stopped as the Devizes goalkeeper seemed to have fate on his side but on 63 minutes the match moved into the home side’s favour.
A long ball from defence found Devizes Town’s best player Rob Mitchell, who side stepped Cheddar’s George Booth, filling in at left back and Mitchell’s crossfield shoulder high ball found Dan Sloan who headed neatly past Webster from close range. Just six minutes later and Devizes had doubled their lead, the Cheddar defence failing to clear a corner positively and Ali Bradley atoning for his miss earlier in the game, smashed the ball home from 12 yards, as the visitors defence tried in vain to close down the Devizes inside forward.
It was disappointing that the Cheesemen’s earlier lack of penetration in front of goal had seen them fall to two successive sucker punches, but as the Somerset side played out the last 25 or so minutes in what appeared to be a lack-lustre style they were perhaps fortunate not to go further behind in the final ten minutes; Mitchell’s right sided cross-cum-shot beating the goalkeeper but flying just wide of his right-hand post with just six minutes remaining.
To their credit, Cheddar end the season in the highest ever position in the Western League, but as they look back on some of their finer performances this season, Saturday’s performance is not one that they will wish to remember with relish.
Joint Cheddar man of the match: Ricky Bennett & Kris Bell
Manager Jared Greenhalgh said: “Today was disappointing in some ways. I thought we controlled the game brilliantly in the first half with some great movement and football.
“We could have been three maybe four ahead with Devizes not really testing Kieran (Webster), apart from once which the guy was offside.
“Second halve we did concede twice through some switching off which is unsurprising considering the back four was a mix of midfield players and players out of position. We missed three one-one-ones second half so it was a disappointing day and to see Mark (Armstrong) leave the field after a horrendous challenge on him just compounded the day.
“We finish the season though in third place and full of what might have been, we have played some breath-taking football, and have lost to very direct sides. I will not abandon the way we play, to combat long ball teams but I do think we need to improve our understanding positionally and we will work hard in the off season to really mature this side.
“I believe if we can add three players and mature the squad into a position we could have one of the best seasons ever, so for now thank you to everyone and hopefully we will see you in pre-season.”
Cheddar captain Adam Jones said: “It’s gutting to end the season with a 2-0 loss.
“I felt that we played well in the first half but didn’t take our chances. To play like we did and get nothing out of the game is hard to take.
“We didn’t turn up for the second half, we had players playing out of position which didn’t help us but we still should not have lost the game. It was two sloppy goals to concede.
“I’d just like to thank the people that travelled up to Devizes to watch our final game and thank them for their support throughout the season.”
Ricky Bennett said: “It’s been a season full of ups and downs which will definitely eat up some reflecting on throughout the summer.
“Outside looking in it looks like a very successful season with it being the highest finish in Cheddar’s history, however inside the camp, we can’t hide from the disappointment and a feeling of underachievement.
“Two years on the bounce now we have fallen short in the later stages of the season and that is a tough pill to swallow.
“On behalf of the players I’d like to thank all the supporters for following us home and away and for always backing us until the very end.
“I’d also like to thank Russell for all his hard work and effort that’s gone into the pitch for us to play on this season.
“You’ve turned a cow field into a pitch that allows us to play our best football on. And thanks go to Karen for all the efforts in washing our kit week in week out, especially through the winter months…although mine never got dirty!
“And the biggest shootout to the mighty Alan Cooper.
“You are an absolute diamond and we are extremely lucky to have you. The club wouldn’t function without you and you deserve the biggest praise of all.
“Now is the time to go and reflect on the season, take a break, and put things in place ready to put things right next season.
“One thing’s for sure, I’m not prepared to fall just short three years on the trot – Up the Cheese!”
Elsewhere the Reserve team notched up an impressive 4-2 win at Taunton United on Saturday; here is the report on the match kindly supplied by Andy Wallis…
The Reserve team were looking to extend their winning streak to four in four as they travelled to Taunton on the Bank Holiday weekend to face an inconsistent Taunton United.
A Cheddar team full of confidence were explosive in the first five minutes, with Sam Merreywether blasting over the ball from six yards and the Taunton goalkeeper making a point blank save from Harry Farrell.
Cheddar got their breakthrough on 19 minutes, with Connor Heal attacking down the right, linking well with Farrell, and sliding in the young Tom Catling who coolly slotted home for his well-deserved first county league goal.
Two minutes later Farrell pounced on a loose back pass, after some great work by Carlos Farhina and Callum Sully pressuring the Taunton back-line and clinically slotting past the keeper.
Taunton were in no mood to just fold and a missed tackle in midfield allowed the ball to be played wide and a superb whipped cross was met by a smashing back post header, 2-1.
Cheddar were unfazed and bounced straight back. Farrell should have added to his tally when he found himself one-on-one with the goalkeeper only to see his shot slide inches past the post.
Cheddar’s midfield three of Will Wallis, French and Farhina dominated the centre of the pit, sliding pass after pass into the front three.
It was Farhina’s superbly delivered free kick that couldn’t be cleared and was subsequently bundled in to the net by Callum Sully to return Cheddar’s two goal cushion.
Cheddar were now cruising and with Mike Carpenter pinging 50 yard passes at ease and causing Taunton all sorts of problems, only to be punished in the last play of the first half.
A lapse of concentration and not clearing their lines, saw the ball bundled past Lockyer, to see the sides go into the break 3-2.
Cheddar stuck to their formation and style of play and were rewarded just four minutes after the re-start.
Farrell’s tireless running paid dividends again when he muscled the ball from Taunton’s centre back and slot past the advancing goalkeeper.
The same player should have claimed his hat-trick just minutes later following Sully’s through ball but again saw his shot trickle agonisingly past the post.
Taunton tried in vain to get back into the game but Cheddar absorbed the pressure, with captain Jake Buxton, impenetrable defending never giving the opposition any real hope.
The introduction of Dom Underhill’s fresh legs only continued to cause Taunton’s backline problems and create further chances for this improving young Cheddar team.
The Reserve team now finish their season with back-to-back games at Bowdens Park, initially facing a tough test against league champions Nailsea & Tickenham on Saturday (6 May) kick-off: 3pm, followed by their final game of the season against Clevedon United on Thursday evening (11 May) kick-off: 7.45pm.
Don’t forgot the Somerset Intermediate Cup Final on Tuesday evening, 2nd May. The cup final is to be played between Bath Villa FC and Baltonsborough FC and is to kick off at 7.30pm.
Gates open at 5.45pm and admission prices are £3.00 (Adults) and £1 (Concessions).
Cheddar Football Club are to host a number of additional cup finals during the month of May and details will be published on this website shortly.
And last but by no means least…
Don’t forget the End of Season Awards Evening on Saturday 13th May, starting at 7.00 for 7.30pm in the clubhouse. Admission £10 ‘on the door’ which includes a ‘Hog Roast and a Pint’!