Early autumn sunshine was meant to be the order of the day as we entertained West Allotment Celtic at The Welfare Ground, but we were in fact met with an overcast afternoon that always threatened rain. The recent new signings all kept their places in the starting line-up and we welcomed back Phillipson, Marshall, White & Gash following their absence last week.
Two teams that were near the bottom of the league and short in confidence, it was Brandon who kicked off the first half. This lack of confidence was evident in both teams in the early exchanges as neither side could string more than three passes together. But it was to be Brandon who had the first and best chance of the game so far. A high ball was lobbed over the defence for Vinny Gash to run on to. Using his strength he got to the ball first and into the box. The defender stuck out a leg and Vinny duly obliged and fell over it. Penalty given in the 7th minute. A bit soft I thought, but we’ll take it. Unfortunately Vinny couldn’t convert the chance we’d been given and the West ‘keeper made a good save.
This lifted West and they had their best spell of the game. Following an attack down our right, the loose ball came to the edge of the box and was struck cleanly first time back towards goal. Luckily it went just wide with Kriss Carr nowhere near it. Minutes later a free kick 20 yards out was deflected by ‘someone’ in the wall and hit the post. The ref gave a corner and from it a ‘free header’ was brilliantly saved by Carr. This was all inside a five minute spell up to the quarter hour point, but was to be the best Allotment could muster for the rest of the game.
After this point we were totally dominant. An attack down the right flank and a great cross from White was blazed over by Pounder inside the box. A little later and we’re attacking down our left. White and Grayson working well together and another White cross is shot homeward by Pounder again forcing the goalie to make a save this time. We maintained the pressure and Grayson was fouled just outside the box wide on the left. A great in-swinging cross from White was met by Pounder who flicked the ball into the net for 1-0.
Not long after a high, looping ball from the Brandon defence was chased after by Gash. Cries of offside from the Allotment bench went unheeded and it was a race between Vinny and West ‘keeper to see who would get there first. It was Vinny and he managed to lob the ball over the advancing goalie and make it 2-0 to Brandon.
After the interval we continued to dominate and to create chances. White had a speculative 20 yard overhead kick, but was straight at the keeper. Pounder had the ball at this feet inside the box but tries to take on too many and loses the ball. A shot was cleared off the line following a corner and Grayson after turning two defenders inside out, made their keeper make a fine save from one of his shots. It was all Brandon – but we weren’t converting our chances and is something that has haunted us in recent games.
This was again evident just after the hour mark when Vinny had a few chances to shoot but kept on turning and ‘getting a better angle’ only for his eventual shot to be hit straight at the ‘keeper and saved. He made amends though not long after. We had a free kick just inside the Allotment half. It was crossed over and White managed to get to the ball first – he controlled the ball and was then ‘taken out’ by a lunge from the West defender. The ball came loose inside the box and Vinny was there to latch onto it – there was a marvellous advantage played by the ref – Vinny raced on and fired the ball low and hard passed the keeper into the bottom of the net off the post. Three nil to Brandon and fully deserved.
We continued to play some attractive football and weren’t content to just hoof it up field and hope someone can run on to it. Grayson was having a great game and he was tormenting the West defence. Gash was again unlucky following a great one/two with White when his shot went just wide of the post. Debutant Zak Renwick made his debut late on and had a chance of a dream start but he wasn’t able to get the ball from under his feet when only six yards out and just the goalie to beat. Vinny had another chance to get his hat-trick very late on with a bouncing ball inside the six yard box. With just him and the ‘keeper in contention for the ball, he appeared to be dragged backwards from behind just as he was about to shoot. We all shouted for a penalty but the ref waved on. No one could understand why someone who was just about to shoot for his hat trick goal would ‘fall over’ looking for a penalty and why the ref didn’t give it.
Thankfully it did not have a bearing on the game despite West Allotment having their own ‘dodgy’ penalty being awarded just minutes prior. We had sat back a little bit and West for the first time since the opening exchanges were actually in the game. They’d had a couple of half chances but nothing that had really troubled Carr in the nets. Then following a corner a header was crashed against the bar and looped into the air. A couple of players from both sides went up to head it but one from West fell over as he did so. For some reason the assistant referee saw this a foul and instructed the ref accordingly. The penalty was dispatched to make it 3-1.
So all in all a very good all round team performance against an albeit admittedly a poor West Allotment side. We had chances, many chances, to make the score line more comfortable and we just have to take these when we play against better opposition. For me the stand out performer on the day was young Ethan Grayson, only 17 years old but had a great game today.