Broadfields United Reserves 1 v 2 Kensington Dragons Reserves
After winning a nine goal thriller last week, The Dragons were looking to consolidate with a positive result at last year’s runners up Broadfields United. They were also aware that the home team would be baying for blood after losing to the Dragons in the League Cup final 3 months ago.
The Dragons lined up in a 4-2-3-1 after the club management team decided it was in the best interests of the players and the club to play in the same formation as the first team, predominantly to allow the players to step up and down with a better of understanding of the job required. It would mean a re-shuffle especially with 6 changes to the squad.
They began brightly and as the half progressed they began to open up the Broadfield’s defence with front 4 James Shirley, Josiah Johnson, Andrew Scheck and Shegun Beckley all heavily involved. However, unlike last week, they couldn’t find the net with Scheck and Johnson particularly a little carefree in their finishing. After 5 guilt edged chances they paid the penalty for their profligacy as Broadfields took the lead on the 35 minute mark. Ethan Meyers lost possession wandering forward and a after a neat Cruyff turn from the winger the ball was delivered to inexplicably find the smallest player on the pitch rising between 3 Dragons defenders to head home. A little deflated the Dragons limped to half time 1-0 down. The coaches were generally pleased with the performance and simply re-inforced the players tactical responsibilities and requested a more level headed approach to finishing and decision making in the box. The crucial change however was switching Scheck and Shirley, the latter playing in an unfamiliar left wing role and getting the former’s huge physical presence in the middle of the pitch.
Playing uphill and into the wind now, the Dragons made light of the challenge and with captain Adam Finch and Mark Amado holding firm in midfield and Ashley Ankrah and Ade Akeredolu mopping up superbly at center half, had the platform to go after an equalising goal. On 60 minutes the coaching team threw on Hassan Osman and although not directly involved, 3 minutes later they were in the lead. The equaliser was direct football at its best. A quick out ball from Ankrah found Johnson with a little space in midfield, he turned and slid a beautiful pass through the middle, perfectly into the onrushing Shirley’s path for him to neatly lob the keeper. The change in belief was palpable and Shirley was taking control. The midfield again fed him down the left but looked short of options as he reached the byline with 2 defenders in his path. However, with the confidence of his goal and little options he shimmied the first and drove into the box, he then dropped the shoulder again and left the second defender standing still and cooly slotted the ball square for the lively Johnson to flick home ala Olivier Giroud.
The game should have been over 3 minutes later shirley linking beautifully with left back Meyers to create another byline cutback. This one found Scheck 7 yards out and on his own, he composed himself took a touch but found the goalkeeper instead of the net. Shirley then ran on to a super over the top ball from Amado and got to the ball before the keeper who was left no choice but to bring him down. Frustratingly Finch’s penalty was well saved by the Broadfield’s number 1. The home team celebrated and all of a sudden there was a light at the end of the tunnel for them. The question now was could the Dragons adjust their play and show maturity in closing out a result when under pressure? Matt Finch replaced Meyers and Jon Laycock came on for Beckley to add a physical presence as Broadfields resorted to long balls with the referee giving 5 consecutive free kicks to United in the closing 5 or 10 minutes. But the Dragons would not be denied and held on to make it 2 wins from the first two fixtures, a first for Kensington’s second string leaving them tied at the top of the league.