Not even the weather could blow the Vets off their decent 2019 form as a solid team performance earned us a 3-1 victory. Against a good footballing team, in Ilmington, the game started fairly evenly with us trying to break through with balls over the top for Brooksy and Ilmington looking to play it on the ground to get through the back 4. With us mostly getting used to the conditions, in our own half, the deadlock actually came when Dean picked up the ball from their goal kick, laid it off to Jack (who had an excellent game in both midfield and later at centre back), who then expertly found Knaggsy in the box who rifled a shot at the bar. Having followed it up, Dean was on hand to put the rebound away, and we found ourselves in familiar territory of a one goal advantage. Scott only really had to deal with a few balls punted over the top, that were safely collected, whilst we gave ourselves a couple of great chances to extend our lead. Matty delivered a deep cross towards Brooksy, who caught the volley sweetly, only to see it hit the bar and away to safety. Gary looked to have doubled our lead with a header towards a seemingly open goal, only for one of their defenders to get back and scoop it off the line. It was looking like we may have to settle for just the one goal at half time until Brooksy showed some skill, having worked hard to stop the ball going out for a goal kick, he megged the defender, and from the narrowest of angles slotted it home.
Dean was then concerned for his toe nail polish and had to make way for Aaron and Ilmington weren't done as they put us under pressure with a few balls fizzed in to the box, with Matt reaching one to stick it just past our post for a corner, when it looked likely the deficit was to be halved. The pressure came to an end with the half time whistle and we were able to enjoy the break with a 2 goal advantage.
Ant took Ray's place at left back and we had to get used to the change of wind direction, but we were full of confidence, looking to put the game to bed. (Here it comes!) One of the early moves of the half came as Captain Holmes took the ball out of defence, skipping past a couple before laying it off to Brooksy who fed it back in to my path as I reached the edge of the box. Sadly the left foot cross was straight at the defender and the chance was gone. We found some luck with runs across the middle as well as playing it out wide for Gary and Matty to run on to. Had the ref not have blown for an offside, despite the linesman not flagging, we may have got the third earlier but it wasn't too long before Matty lined up a free kick, 35 yards out, and just sent it high towards goal, allowing the wind to do the rest as it held the ball up and just dropped it under the crossbar. Jack made way for Paul in a straight swap in the middle and it then became a bit of an end to end game. Ilmington finding crosses into the box and Bloxham looking to pass it into the box. One of their crosses did finally get them back into the game as Scott lost sight of the ball which flew over his head and into the path of their striker, leaving him with just a tap in to give them a chance of a come back.
Knaggsy's effort was just the wrong side of the post and Gary's speculative strike from wide right nearly had a helping hand from the wind, to find the back of net, but sadly it had to settle for the side netting. There was no come back and it was a well deserved victory as our hard work and team work paid off. It was an honour to captain such as great bunch of players and we can continue the remainder of the season with confidence and positivity!