It's not often you get on the wrong end of this sort of scoreline and still come off the pitch thinking we actually played alright. It's a funny old game, as Greavsie used to say repeatedly.
A long drive into the Sussex countryside found us pitching up at the somewhat angular Dormansland pitch, with the kind of slope you might expect Eddie the Eagle Edwards to be going down. Last time out we had played excellently against this lot at home and were unlucky not to win the game, settling for a 2-2. Hopes were high for a repeat of this kind of performance, but in the first ten minutes they put us under a lot of pressure, and their big centre forward struck the bar twice in quick succession. Skipper Nic was having a slow start after an early morning and a long drive, and a punt over the top saw him turned around by their striker who lifted the ball over Adam and in. A second followed not long after, this time a long-range effort from the same player. We responded pretty well, having some really good link up play in the midfield, and bringing the wide men into the game. Losing Michael after about 35 minutes didn't help, after a scything challenge from behind left him hobbling like an old man. Or, perhaps, like our captain.
[caption id="attachment_1058" align="alignnone" width="165"] Nic Eadie[/caption]
Going in 2-0 at half time probably just about reflected the half given their early dominance, though we all felt like the game wasn't over yet, that it was possible for us to come back into it. The last twenty minutes of the half had seen us give as good as we got, while lacking any real penetration. Bill caressed us with words of encouragement, wrapped up in his warm glow, did what every good motivator does.
[caption id="attachment_1059" align="alignnone" width="205"] Bill Clifford[/caption]
Out we came for the second half, Jon coming on for Michael. Again it felt like in many areas we matched them pretty well, and there was no shortage of commitment. Unfortunately though we proceeded to let in another four. Hard to say exactly what went wrong. A couple of errors at the back, a couple of quick breaks, and some excellent finishing on their part. It never felt that we were dominated though, and in terms of possession it was pretty even stuff, but we just lacked ideas in the final third and they stood tall at the back. Some of the challenges got quite tasty, with the opposition living up to their reputation as being a feisty bunch, but we held our heads and went about things in the right way, and walking off at the end we had a strange sense of having being thumped on paper yet leaving feeling we had achieved something. The Villa Way, we like to think of it. An indefinable mysterious power, as Ghandhi once called it. It runs through the mighty 2s.
A stop on the way home to see us all lose our money on the Grand National was a great chance to share a drink together and commiserate/celebrate. One more game to go, dear boys. One more game to go.