Football: Aveley end pre-season with defeat
Date posted: 15-08-2012
By Scott Hately
Aveley ended their pre-season with a disappointing 2-1 defeat at home to Southminster in their only pre-season game to be played at Mill Field.
With just four days to go until the start of the Ryman League season, manager, Justin Gardner, took very few positives from the game against the Essex Olympian side, who had looked the better side throughout the majority of the match and deservedly run out winners.
The defeat was Aveley’s fourth in their last five pre-season games, but Gardner wasn’t too concerned after the final whistle, saying that the important thing is the performance this coming Saturday when Aveley open their league campaign at home to Maldon & Tiptree.
The home side’s starting line-up had a very experimental feel about it with a lot of the manager’s first choice eleven either carrying knocks from the weekend defeat to Hythe or being rested altogether ahead of the league opener.
Much like the game against London Bari earlier in pre-season the team looked a little disjointed being made up of fringe players and trialists, and the opening exchanges between the two sides were quiet and without much to shout home about.
Southminster were controlling the play for the most part, maintaining possession of the ball well, but creating little with it in the opening half. Southminster were looking most threatening with the ball over the top, but the Aveley back line stood firm, restricting the away side to half chances early on.
Despite the away side having the better of the half, it was Aveley who created the two clearest opportunities of the opening 45 minutes.
Billy Holland was the first to threaten the Southminster goal after only nine minutes played. A cross from the left hand side was perfectly flighted into the danger area and onto the head of Holland, who had split the defenders perfectly. Holland’s header from the penalty spot came cannoning off the underside of the bar, with the goalkeeper stranded, before being cleared away.
Aveley were denied the opportunity to take the lead again after 23 minutes, thanks to some superb goalkeeping from the Southminster number one. A short ball inside from the right found Ed O’Neil just outside the penalty area. O’Neil had time and space to open up his body before stroking a lovely, curling strike towards the bottom corner, only to see the ‘keeper superbly palm the ball round the post and away for a corner.
Southminster thought they had opened the scoring after the half hour mark, but their number nine’s goal was ruled out for offside, and Aveley had a shout for a penalty when Les Thompson had jinked into the area before being clipped by the Southminster defender. The referee waved away the protests and called an end to the first period with the scores still level.
The second half was more of the same from the away side who were growing in confidence as the minutes ticked by, and with six minutes of the second half gone they turned their dominance into a lead through their number 14.
Standing up to left back, Danny Walsh, the Southminster striker managed to power past the defender putting him clean through on goal with only Dave McCartney to beat. The striker then expertly lifted his ball over McCartney, hitting the far post before going into the net to give the away side the leader after 51 minutes.
Southminster began to turn the screw from there, in a five minute period where Aveley looked void of ideas and with the away side cutting through the defence at will.
It was the away side’s number eight who was next to cause panic in the Aveley back line. After picking the ball up in the middle of the park the Southminster midfielder proceeded to bring the ball forward, evading tackles from three Aveley defenders in quick succession to get through on goal. The midfielder’s effort was weak, however, and McCartney managed to spring down low to save it down to his right.
Three minutes later and the away side doubled their advantage, once again through their number 14, and it was the ball over the top that finally paid dividends. A neat little dink over the Aveley centre back pairing was enough to unlock the defences once more and the striker duly accepted the invitation, curling his effort across the face of the ‘keeper and into the net to make it 2-0 after 56 minutes.
Aveley worked hard and fought for every ball, but they lacked the cutting edge that was going to claw them back into the match up and it was almost ironic when Aveley were given a lifeline thanks to an awful error by the Southminster goalkeeper.
Kayan Kalipha had picked the ball up just outside the error and bombed towards the by-line. The midfielder lifted the ball up towards the far post where Ricky Edwards was lurking, but under the challenge of a Southminster defender he could only head the ball into the air. Presumably concerned about the defender on the line waiting to head away, the goalkeeper went up to claim the ball but took his eye off of it at the key moment, flapping it into his own net after 67 minutes to give the home side an undeserved lifeline.
Aveley made a number of changes in the latter stages of the game to try and force an equaliser, but it was to no avail as they were unable to muster any clear chances and the game ended 2-1 to the away side.
After the game Gardner said “it was a poor game to be honest. I didn’t want to risk many first team players because we have a massive game Saturday and, as you know, we got a lot of injuries last Saturday and I didn’t want to risk anybody.” Gardner said that pre-season had panned out “just ok” and continued by saying “in terms of their fitness I’m happy. The real test and where I will be judged will be this Saturday.”
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