Conquest played their third game of the Combined Counties U18 North league away to Croydon - a side that had already won two fixtures this year and were bound to present a challenge for our boys. Perhaps a surprise was just how much trouble they would present us.
Firstly though, apologies for the lack of coverage last night, due to staffing arrangements in other areas there was only one coach at the fixture and as a result there was no live twitter coverage nor was I there to record the match and henceforth give the most accurate of match reports. Nonetheless I believe I have been well versed in the events of the game and will do my utmost to present the most accurate picture to readers.
Readers can rest assured that whilst the lack of coverage may appear conspicuous in it's absence, this is not a club that will hide loses and despite my own lack of attendance the match report will still be produced - a loss is a unique opportunity for the boys to get a cold hard dose of football at the sharp end of things. No-one wins everything always - a lesson best learned the hard way it seems.
Conquest lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation as they have done previously this season but with travel arrangements having been severely disrupted the starting team was missing some notable names as one boy arrived on KO and a further three boys 20 minutes past the first whistle. There were again a number of U16 players that were being used in the fixture.
Team-Sheet: Nabbad, Clarke, Ferguson, Ferguson, Rajab, Tivey, Palfrey, Bremang, Kalinauskas, Jama, Awuah ||
Bench: Krishna, Crotty, Laing, Evans (C) ||
Conquest started the game in much the way the boys had prepared for the game; poorly. There was slack all over the pitch and whilst preaching the fact that key players were missing may sound good in headlines it doesn't offer any respect to the rest of the team and nor does it explain why the boys were so far below their usual high standards.
Passes were being misplaced and a lack of ability to control the game was a serious concern for the coach on the evening. Understandably the team had been tweaked but Conquest struggled to get a control of the game and the pace of the Croydon players, particularly their wingers was a notable feature of the first half.
Conquest fell behind to two goals within the first 25 minutes of the fixture, the first a corner had been looped in, ricocheted into the air from someone and then, with the Conquest keeper off his line there was an easy opportunity to head into an open goal. Questions must be asked of the defending sides marking. The second goal, was a 25 yard shot that somehow ended in the back of the net. The uphill struggle had well and truly begun.
As the half wore on Conquest settled slightly without ever getting into a rhythm or really playing any particularly impressive football. This was then further disrupted as 10 minutes before half time Croydon managed to grab a third goal. With the Conquest players clearly dejected and undoubtedly embarrassed at conceding 3 goals, let alone the fact it had been without reply.
Some blushes were saved before half time as David Bremang managed to claw one back alongside Samurai Evans adding to the tally with a fine finish.
HT: Croydon 3-2 Conquest
You would be forgiven for thinking that having salvaged two goals and despite one of the worst Conquest performances in recent memory that the boys may be staging one of their impressive comebacks but the second half started in much a similar fashion to the first half - poor passes, sloppy play and lots of errors.
Croydon were in a decisive mood and managed to get a goal to stretch their lead to 4-2 before late in the game managing to grab another one and add some gloss to the scoreline with a fifth. Conquest salvaged a late goal through Crotty that was well taken but not enough.
FT: Croydon 5-3
Manager's MotM: No-one
Captain's MotM: No-one
Assist David Bremang
David Bremang Assist Samurai Evans
Assist Jayde Crotty
Conquest were bested in every area of the pitch, there were plenty of reasons to cite for their underwhelming performance but the only one that truly matters is the fact that they were not good enough. They allowed complacency and early season results to lead them into a false sense of security and that is a dangerous path to go down. They must become aware of the potential pitfalls that are inherent with being a top side. The problem with being at the top is that everyone wants to knock you off, they are recording results of impressive fashion but they must heed the warning that was well served by Croydon this evening - teams will not be turned over lightly and if you give them any small opportunity and they will capitalise. A rude awakening given that this very team will have academy sides to play this year.
Congratulations go to Croydon who should enjoy their great win. No doubt the Conquest player and staff will be looking to make sure the reverse fixture is a different story and a conclusive enough victory so as to wash away the memory of this game.