Match Report -

Match Report - , by Ian Craig

Tadley Calleva v Fleet Spurs

Tadley Calleva 1 Fleet Spurs 0 (Sydenhams Wessex League Division 1) by John Porter

Half an hour before kick-off time, the rain started to fall on Barlow’s Park and persisted for much of the first half.  Hard work by the Tadley ground staff had ensured that the match would be on, but the downpour made the pitch slippery and helped to spoil the game as a spectacle.  However, neither side was completely blameless as both played too many long balls – not the fault of the pitch.  Tadley were the better side overall, recording their sixth consecutive clean sheet in the league, but Fleet showed great spirit and contested the game until the end.

The game started quietly, with both sides giving the ball away with apparent nonchalance.  Unusually, however, Spurs lost two men to injury in the first 11 minutes.  First, player-manager Sam Knowles had to go off with a calf strain and shortly afterwards Tom Slane was unable to continue because of an ankle injury.  Happily, this week Fleet had three substitutes and this resulted in Jamil Olweny & Chris Rose having much more playing time that they’d expected.  In the fourth minute, Spurs had their clearest opening of the game when Dan Bone was through on goal, but keeper Tom Hindmarsh bravely smothered his shot.  The home side gradually gained the ascendancy, but Mark Appleby kept them out, making some good saves and wisely in the conditions fisting away a number of dangerous balls.  At last, in the 30th minute there was a goal, as Tadley took the lead after the best move of the match.  James Tennant made a good run down the left, and Cameron George met his low cross with a first-time half-volley that gave Appleby no chance.  Half-time came with Tadley well on top and good value for their narrow lead.

After the break Spurs began to play more constructively with some well-crafted attacks, but without creating clear-cut chances.  The game was fairly even, though Appleby was the busier of the keepers.  Midway through the half, all present believed that Brett Denham had added to his impressive goal tally this season, but his low shot from close range hit the inside of the far post and rebounded into the arms of the grateful Appleby.  More good saves from the Spurs keeper kept the deficit to one goal, and the match ended with no further score. 

Spurs remain in 16th position in the league.  Their winless run now extends to nine games, but if they continue to show the same spirit and to defend as stoutly as they did today, it shouldn’t be long before they register that elusive victory.  On Tuesday Spurs welcome Downton (really this time – Kennels Lane; kick-off 7.45), and will be hoping for their first victory of 2017, while on Saturday they visit Hythe & Dibden (kick-off 3.00).

Spurs team: Mark Appleby; Chris Barnes (capt); Adam Nash; Rob Colfer; Victor Mudonhi;Ryan Alexander; Tom Slane (sub Chris Rose 11); Mike Bertoux (sub Jan Verhoeven 83); Dan Bone; Sam Knowles (sub Jamil Olweny 5); Pete Lines