Match report by Geoff Seel
One hundred yards from Farncombe station, there was a sign by a church gate, “to the Football” with an arrow pointing upwards. Was this an omen or were they just pleased to see us? Godalming and Guildford were another club that seemed keen to make the best of their and our day with extra refreshment and toilet facilities, but I didn’t sample either so can’t award stars.
The team emerged in blue shirts and yellow shorts. Now I love the blue kit and the yellow kit, and I’m sure I’ll be very fond of the white kit when it arrives, but some forms of mix-and-match just don’t work and this was one. However it certainly didn’t seem to upset Kevin Cooper, who within three minutes latched onto a ball over their left back’s head and finished with the confidence that seemed to have been missing since his injury. Soon after that, we got our first inkling of who the referee thought was the afternoon’s chief attraction, when he spent a minute lecturing Glyn Shimell for suggesting to the linesman that the opposition had been offside (actually Glyn, I don’t think they were).
The game then settled with us looking the better team on the break but likely to give the opposition more chances than is good for the supporters’ composure. Halting one of these earned Danny Oakins a booking, the next was converted from 25 or more yards out with a shot that gave Glyn Shimell no chance (I thought it was Lydon but if the officials say Newman, I better go along with that). Having conceded the equaliser, the Dons rediscovered their concentration and within four minutes reclaimed the lead. Danny Oakins up for a corner put his boot out to contact a ball knocked back in by Lee Sidwell and it looped over the keeper into the net. If Danny said he meant it, I’m certainly not going to argue with him. Unfortunately during this period we also lost Joe Sheerin with what turned out to be a hamstring injury that will keep him out for 6-8 weeks.
Half time seemed to convince some of the Godalming and Guildford players that their best chance was to get Oakins sent off and persuade the referee that we weren’t sufficiently interested in his contribution to the match. Thus we were treated to a series of attempts to incite and/or maim Oakins, whilst the referee was more interested in long conversations with his linesmen and the players about minor fouls and where defensive walls should stand. Kevin Cooper pleasingly diverted attention from the referee by getting to another through ball and neatly lobbing the keeper as he came out to meet him. Hopefully, two excellent goals will fully restore Coops confidence so that we get a deluge of goals from him during Joe’s absence.
The third goal seemed to convince both sides that the result was settled but the referee at this point saw himself slipping further behind Cooper in the man of the match ratings and decided that he must become more conspicuous. After further interminable lectures and bookings, his big chance came when Neil Robson blatantly allowed himself to be stamped on and was sent off for his efforts, whilst Clarke who attacked him only received a booking. I have to admit to not fully following the ensuing events but they included Clarke getting sent off for another assault, Bassey being lucky to only receive a yellow card for a bad foul and most of our bench being sent off for attempting to stop fights. It was also rumoured that the physio had been sent off for treating Robson’s injury. The game finished after 5 p.m. with the referee beating a hasty retreat to his dressing room.
So we got another three points and Godalming and Guildford were great hosts. On the down side, we are going to meet opposing players and referees with whom we are less than happy and I think that both on and off the pitch we need to be better at handling this so as to maintain our reputation and ensure that we continued to be welcomed by CCL clubs, officials and fans. Also the trains back were late but I guess even that referee can’t be blamed for the state of our railways.
MAN OF THE MATCH: overcoming a truly astonishing bid by the referee: Kevin Cooper