East Grinstead Men's 3rd XI vs Eastbourne 3rd XI – Saturday 16th September
Sussex Knockout Cup Competition
East Grinstead 3rd XI: 2 Eastbourne 3rd XI: 1
EG Scorers: David Nuth (1), Tamoor Abdullah (1)
The Men's 3rd XI regrouped on Saturday 16th September for its first outing after the long summer break. Many changes from last season: some players promoted from last season's squad to the 2nd XI, some moved on to University, new players joining the Club from competitor clubs, promoted players from the 4th XI and Badgers, a new Goalkeeper and a new skipper to complete the changes.
This game was a nerve-tickler in the Sussex 3rd XI Cup Knockout competition against Eastbourne 3rd XI. Lose it and be eliminated. Similarly, finish in a draw and endure a penalty shoot-out contest…cyclonic pressure from the start..
EG started, pushing back to contest the very first Club game of the 2017/2018 season.
Some strong, positive passing and movement of the ball from the outset helped oil the new machine, dust off any shallow rust, and galvanise the team structure. The diamond formation at the heart of the team helped our men domineer the midfield and put Eastbourne under pressure. Jon Brueton demonstrated he has lost none of his hunter instinct (since becoming a father) and was relentless and ruthless as left half. His cunning accomplice in right half, Ollie Harley, took no prisoners and rebuffed some strong Eastbourne shenanigans down the middle of the pitch. Low, impulsive sweeping movements demonstrated Ollie's expertise with the scalpel, stealing the ball back from an impetuous, nay, down-right annoying, South Coast desire to attempt to attack the Saint Hill goalmouth.
With some other experienced players on the bench waiting to come to the party, EG players on the pitch were all determined to give 120% and stake their claim to a long term role in the squad. Finley Askew (ex-St Francis) made some sweeping runs from mid-pitch to attack the Eastbourne goal, but the home team were denied by the athleticism and circus antics from Eastbourne #95 in central defence.
Two substitutions brought on Martyn Cremin and Pat Kyaing, and with them some dogged defiance of the yellow and blue counter-attack. With his absolute composure and electric tackling, Cremin created an opportunity to attack the Eastbourne D in the 22nd minute. A perfect pass across the heavily-packed goal met David Nuth who was able to wriggle the ball free and score the side's first goal taking the lid off the pressure cooker until half time.
In the second half the weather turned, the sky angry, and Eastbourne took the initiative to link up in a series of 2v1 manoeuvres putting the home defence under sustained attack. There were distinct signals that the Away team hadn't practiced their goal attacking this season, although with EG Keeper, Ollie Thilo, closing down almost every shot, they had a tough time. Excellent composure, body positioning, and timing permitted Ollie a Maddie Hinch-style performance. Our home-grown boys, Tristan Redgrove and Max Hassam, delivered on the high-level of coaching received from EGHC and out-foxed some skilful moves whilst embedding some flair into their resistance - the reverse stick block/pass by Hassam back to Crems remains in my memory as truly innovative.
Most satisfying for the Away side must have been the wonderful demonstration of quick hands, 3D skills and direction changing by the Eastbourne forward (the short one). Most embarrassing for him to swipe the ball ridiculously wide of the goal to the left (twice I think?). Finally though, the persistent tourists managed to get through and drew the score level in the 51st minute with a fairly lacklustre conversion.
With the pressure back on, looking down the barrel of an AK47 penalty shoot-out contest in front of an expectant home crowd high on IPA the EG men upped the intensity and ferocity of their attacking play.
The overall fitness of the team swayed possession in EG's favour, resulting in a penalty corner from an opposition driven to the point of frustration.
New team, new set piece for the short corner. Stopped perfectly by Cremin, the ball was then picked up by Tamoor Abdullah (ex-Horsham) and projected surgically into the top left of the goal. 2:1
The home side retained possession to safely finish the game with a WIN. 2:1 to East Grinstead
The enthusiasm shown by these players at mid-week training has really shone through in this game.
Grinners = Winners
With strokes duly avoided, the 3's ceded the pitch to the Vets, for their home London League opener against old foes Reading...
East Grinstead Men's Vets vs Reading Rustlers – Saturday 16th September
London League Vets Div. 1EG Vets 2, Reading Vets 1 (HT 1-0)
Reading brought a star studded team of former Olympians & internationals to EG and were only missing Immy who was reported to be recovering from a hard session of entertaining dancing girls in San Francisco.
Although an evenly matched contest in general play EG created more quality chances overall. Reading looked dangerous on the break but the game was largely controlled by the EG midfield.
The Reading forward line of 1992 olympians were limited to 2 good chances plus a short corner. Their goal came from a penalty stroke following an incident that Giles probably had covered.
In addition to their goals EG created 5 good chances plus a few short corners, but too often conspired to make the Reading keeper look good.
The winning goal came from a clever opportunistic deflection by new signing Jez Subedar who with guile & hyena-like tendencies latched onto a strong shot from Ben that was clearly going woefully wide of missing the target.
Next up is Southgate, former olympians… bring em' on.
Elsewhere this weekend...
New season, and an mostly new crop of Badgers, with several boys moving up this season from the U12's. Ollie Kirby carried over his goal scoring exploits from last season, netting all 3 goals in their 3-8 defeat to visiting Worthing.
The Men's 2's also began a new era, with number of new faces in the squad. With that in mind, an opening day trip to Reading was always liable to be a baptism of fire, such being reflected in the final 0-10 scoreline.
The Bluebirds also suffered defeat in their opening match, trailing Burgess Hill 0-5 (capped score).