Saturday, 11 July 2015

Met Police vs Fulham U21

Met Police secured a solid win over Fulham U21 at Imber Court. To be honest the game was pretty awful, but the Met had their tactics spot on and the Championship side had no answer throughout. Fulham had plenty of ball possession early on but didn’t really do anything with it, although the Fulham number 9 ought to have done better after a cross came into him from the right wing. Out of nowhere, Met Police took the lead in the 16th minute through Rob Bartley. The delivery of the freekick was perfect and Fulham failed to deal with it completely, giving Bartley a free header. Fulham did not really react and the Met keeper did not have a single save to make in the first half!

The Fulham side improved in the second half and finally tested the Met Police keeper, albeit from a tough angle. However it was Met Police who came closest to scoring again, having a corner cleared off the line and then an effort from a further corner hitting the woodwork. Fulham had to start attacking more and they did; it was only a fantastic double save from the Met Police goalkeeper preventing an equalising goal going in. For all their possession, the Whites rarely threatened after this and it was in fact the hosts who looked the more likely, with one effort skidding just wide of the post. Fulham’s best chance came late on but a perfect cross was headed wide when really it should have been 1-1. The Ryman League side never really looked troubled and saw out the game with little problem

Met Police lost out in the playoffs last year and have a very new-look side this time around. Early signs are positive and they are always well set up tactically. They will certainly be aiming to reach the playoffs again, and once you’re in the playoffs anything can happen. We obviously don’t cover youth football too much so don’t have too much to give on the bigger picture for Fulham’s under-21 side, but the fact is they looked toothless in this one. It is perhaps coincidence, but in all 3 Fulham U21 games I’ve seen it’s been much the same story – they’ll need to be better than in this one to succeed at any level 

Tooting and Mitcham vs Staines

Staines began their pre-season with a comfortable 5-0 win over ambitious Ryman Division 1 South side Tooting and Mitcham. The game was just 4 minutes old when an unnecessary shove in the box gave Staines a penalty, which was duly converted by Pat Cox. Staines doubled their lead in the 11th minute, with Michael Kalu heading home from a corner. The high-pressing game played by Staines restricted Tooting, but around the 30th minute Tooting came into the game, forcing the Staines keeper into a double save. They continued to press for the rest of the half, creating chance after chance but failing to score, due to a combination of poor finishing and goal goalkeeping. The best chance was when the Tooting number 9 got one-on-one but fired straight at Turner in the Staines goal. Right at the end of the first half Staines should have added to their lead but the attacker did not realise how much time he had and fired a weak shot straight at the Tooting keeper

Luke Wanadio did make it 3 in the 47th minute, getting a strong connection onto a powerful cross. 4 minutes later Vancouten made it 4-0 as Tooting failed to really start the second half. Staines continued to look for goals and came close just minutes after goal number 4, with an effort from the edge of the box flying just wide of the far post. M’bengui’s goal for Staines was a fantastic solo effort and well and truly killed off the game. Tooting’s centre-back was nearly punished for spending too much time on the ball late on in the game but the Staines attacker lost his footing as he went to shoot. The best late chances that fell to Staines were headed chances, but on both occasions the cross seemed just too high for the header as the Staines men just couldn’t get over the ball enough to add to the scoreline. Tooting would have been glad for the whistle when it came, after a very strong Staines performance

Tooting and Mitcham have high hopes for the season ahead and have assembled a strong squad. They never really got going in this one but the first game of pre-season rarely gives a good indication of a team’s ability and Tooting’s confidence in going up this season shouldn’t be damaged. After relegation last season Staines will be targeting an instant return to the National League South this year. Their game was intense and did not let Tooting play the way they wanted. If they can keep this up in the league campaign they should be confident of promotion 

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Hanworth Villa vs Molesey

Molesey came out victorious in this pre-season friendly; a game which never really got out of second gear. There was an interesting contrast in playing styles throughout the game, with Molesey playing a neat 2-touch passing game whilst Hanworth adopted more direct tactics. The direct football was more effective early on but in truth neither side had any great chances. Molesey's defence was solid and restricted Hanworth to long-range efforts. Quick freekicks provided the best opportunities for Molesey in the first half - the closest they came was when a deflection carried a shot just wide of the far post. However it was an effort from the Hanworth Villa goalkeeper that was the closest either side came to scoring in the first half. The Molesey keeper did well to recover after his opposite number spotted him off his line and shot from within his own half!

Early on in the second period the Moles had a goal disallowed for a foul on the goalkeeper, which appeared to be the correct decision. It was then Hanworth's turn to have a goal disallowed, this time for offside. The game livened up a bit after this and both sides went for a winner in a fairly even game. A goal did eventually come for Molesey; a great strike from the edge of the area finding the bottom left corner. This spurred Molesey on to look for another, and whilst they could not add to their goal tally their attacking play prevented the hosts from having any opportunity to get back into the game, meaning the match finished 1-0 to Molesey

It wasn't pretty, but both sides got a good workout in a physical game. Molesey enter the Ryman Division 1 South next season, knowing it will be a great challenge for them. The foundations have been set and the side are playing decent football, which will be much, much better by the start of the season in August. Hanworth were disappointing last year and ultimately lucky to stay up. But they've finished much higher in past seasons and will be determined to do so again. Confidence should be high, and they gave last season's Combined Counties Premier Division champions Molesey a good game in this on. We wish both sides all the best in the upcoming 15-16 season

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Walton Casuals vs Spelthorne Sports

The first game of the FITB was a high-scoring, but ultimately very one-sided game. Walton Casuals of the Ryman Division One South took on Spelthorne Sports, who play in the division below. With Spelthorne finishing strongly in the Combined Counties Premier Division last season and Casuals being in the bottom half of the league above you could be forgiven for expecting a close game. The reality was somewhat different.

The game started slowly with neither keeper being really tested in the first 20 minutes. Both sides did have chances however; Walton seeing a corner cleared off the line and Spelthorne’s centre forward just unable to reach a through ball. Walton then had a goal disallowed for offside. It wasn’t until the 30th minute that the first of the 8 goals was scored - Gabriel Odunaike timing his run to perfection and calmly finishing past the helpless Spelthorne keeper. Odunaike should really have made it 2-0 minutes later but the second goal did eventually arrive courtesy of former Sutton United man Billy Dunn, who capitalised after Spelthorne were caught in possession inside their own half. Just 12 seconds after Spelthorne kicked off again they pulled a goal back, a powerful volley just inside the box leaving the Walton keeper with no chance. There was more to come in the first half though, with a Walton Casuals trialist remaining calm under pressure to score a third goal in stoppage time

The first chance of the second half fell to Spelthorne, but the effort from the edge of the box was well wide. Walton continued to pepper the Spelthorne goal but were frustrated by several saves by the Spelthorne keeper and one shot striking the foot of the post. The game appeared to be petering out but a spectacular Spelthorne collapse in the final 10 minutes saw Walton Casuals add 4 goals in the space of 5 minutes. Gabriel Odunaike got the first in the 83rd minute, in similar style to his first goal. A Spelthorne player then handled on the line, allowing Luke Medley to score a penalty just 1 minute later. Odunaike’s movement off the ball had been excellent throughout and he completed his hattrick in the 86th minute after an inch perfect through ball put him through. There was still time for another trialist to score a screamer from the edge of the box, bringing the score to an emphatic 7-1

It is of course hard to make judgements on a season based on the first pre-season game, but Walton were brutal and looked a very strong side. Spelthorne offered glimpses going forward but were caught way too often at the back and you couldn’t help but feel sorry for the goalkeeper, who had little chance with any of the 7 goals. With Walton Casuals playing in Merstham this season we are unlikely to see them until the new stadium in built, so wish them all the best for the future! We are sure to catch Spelthorne Sports again soon, hopefully on better form, and again wish them all the best in their 15-16 Combined Counties season!