Friday, July 19, 2024

Four out of four in pre-season as Millers prepare

Corinthian 2 v 4 Aveley

By Scott Hatley

AVELEY made it four wins from four in pre-season thanks to a 4-2 win over Corinthian in the Kent sunshine at Gay Dawn Farm.

Goals from Paul Burnett, Billy Holland, Michael Begg and Junior Appiah were enough to see the Millers maintain their 100% record in pre-season, but manager Justin Gardner was far from happy with the overall performance from his team.

The match started very evenly with neither side taking control of the game or the possession, but with just over 10 minutes on the clock Aveley took the lead with their first real attack of the game.

Jack Stephenson was given way too much time on the ball and was left in acres of space in the centre of the pitch. With time on his side, Stephenson picked out a perfectly chipped pass over the top of the Corinthian back line, finding Burnett who had beating the offside trap. Burnett took one touch on his chest to control the ball before flashing his shot into the top corner, beating the ‘keeper at his near post after 11 minutes.

Aveley should have extended their lead seven minutes later. This time Burnett was the architect laying on a plate a glorious chance for Begg to make it 2-0 to the away side.

Marc Sontag released Burnett down the right wing and with all the time and space in the world the striker placed a low cross into the penalty area. His cross evaded the on-rushing Holland with the ball being played behind him, but it did fall perfectly for Begg, who from six yards could only find the frame of the Corinthian ‘keeper with his low strike.

Aveley didn’t have to wait too much longer before extending their lead, as after 25 minutes their increased dominance of the ball was rewarded thanks to a goal from Holland to make it 2-0.

Sheldon Sellears – who had only just been brought on as an early change for the injured Jay Knight – was released down the right hand side. Sellears’ first cross was blocked, but the ball fell fortuitously for the midfielder, who managed to get his second cross into the danger area by driving the ball into the six yard box. A Corinthian defender on the line could only succeed in scooping the ball up into the air, but not out of play, and with his second bite of the cherry the defender’s weak header went straight to Holland who had the simple task of heading into an empty net from two yards out.

Corinthian, despite having a fair chunk of the possession in the first half had created very little with it, and their best opportunity of the game came after after 37 minutes from their #10.

The striker received the ball from the centre and was faced up against Lee Sontag at left back. With his second touch the Corinthian striker performed a Gascoigne-esque flick over Sontag’s head, but his effort as the ball came back down was tame, dribbling towards the front post and comfortably pounced upon by goalkeeper, Kenny Worster.

Before the half was up, Aveley piled more misery on their Kent League hosts by extending their advantage further through Begg, with three minutes of the first half to play.

A corner from the left hand side was whipped in by Stephenson into the near post area where three Aveley players had converged. Holland was the first get to the ball and his flick on in turn flicked off Begg, with the ball deflecting past the perplexed ‘keeper and into the bottom corner.

The half time scoreline somewhat flattered the away side, but it was Aveley’s clinical finishing that was the difference in what had been a relatively even half of football.

In the second half, Gardner made two changes bringing on Jason Willis in goal for Worcester, and Daniel Francis on for goal-scorer Begg and it was the away side who were the quickest out of the blocks in the second half.

With just two minutes of the second half played, Aveley should have found themselves four up through Holland. An Aveley corner from the right hand side found Ricky Edwards’ whose header was blocked. The ball fell straight to Holland with the goal at his mercy, but from eight yards out he couldn’t connect cleanly with the ball and his effort ended up being hooked off the line by the Corinthian defender on the post.

After that chance, Corinthian settled back into the game and finally started to get a foothold with a period of sustained dominance of the ball, and in the 68th minute their dominance paid off as Corinthian gave themselves a lifeline, scoring through their #7.

The midfielder had been played in by a perfectly weighted through ball played in behind the backtracking Aveley defenders. The Corinthian player’s first effort was well saved by the toe of Willis, but the ball bounced straight back to the #7 who took one touch to settle himself before placing the ball into the unguarded net to reduce the arrears to two goals.

Any chance of a comeback, though, was short-lived, as Aveley restored their three goal advantage seven minutes later through Junior Appiah, all but killing the game off as a contest with quarter of an hour to go.

Darryl Wilson’s cross from the right hand side found Appiah who was lurking just outside the penalty area. On receiving the ball, Appiah played a first time pass inside to Daniel Francis who was beside him, allowing Francis to carry the ball into the box, skipping past two Corinthian defenders before nicking the ball past the goalie. With the angle getting worse, Francis’ effort on goal couldn’t beat the Corinthian defender who had retreated onto the post, but despite the defender’s best efforts the Corinthian player could only manage to deflect the ball straight to Appiah, who had cantered into the area and was free in the centre of the six yard box to tap into an empty net.

Corinthian did manage to get a second late on, with arguably the best goal of the game. The Corinthian number #16 found himself on the ball about 25 yards from goal after some poor play from both sides, who had been unable to maintain possession. Without a seconds-thought the midfielder opened up his body before stroking a beautiful, curling effort over Willis and into the top corner to make it 4-2 with 81 minutes played.

Despite the win, Gardner was not happy with the performance from his side. Straight after the game Gardner said “the only positive to come out of that game was that Jack Stephenson was back to his best…If it was a league game we would have lost today. Overall I’m just not happy with today, not at all.”

Man of the match Stephenson agreed with the overall view of his manager, saying that the performance “wasn’t bad” but that there was “a lot we need to work on”. He continued by saying the team had had “easy pre-season games. (Today) we took it too easy and we need to work harder.”


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