Another tough away trip was in store for Cropredy, as they travelled down to face the in-form Kennington Athletic In the league. Kennington had started their campaign with maximum points and sat top of the table, whilst Crop had picked up just a point from their opening 3 games.
With 12 goals conceded in those opening 3 fixtures, manager Kieran Reading decided on a change of approach and shape, going to a back 3 to try and make the side more difficult to break down and beat. Dan Bartlett who returned from injury off the bench against Garsington came in to start in midfield, Ben Coleman returned, and there was a debut for Isaac Locke at the back, who’s signed on dual registration with Easington Sports. Charlie MacDonald and George Mullis were promoted form the Devs, with the former straight in to start. Callum Moon and Harry Treml moved into the Devs squad for game time, whilst Jack Welch and Luke Butterworth were unavailable this week.
The game plan and change of shape worked for Crop in the first half, as they frustrated Kennington who were unable to threaten Dan Bailey’s goal from range, with most their better chances coming from set pieces delivered into the box. The one time Bailey was called upon he managed to palm an effort just over the bar.
Crop’s only early chance of note, came as Dan Reeves’ corner hit the bar, and the rebound couldn’t be converted into a chance, but Robertson had a penalty claim waved away. Kennington had another good chance but young Alife Aspinall pulled off an impressive block, and as the recycled the ball, another chance was headed wide by the big centre forward.
As the half was petering to a close, and the referee about to blow the half time whistle, Dan Bailey took a goal kick. His kicking hadn’t been the best first half, but this time his kick found Robertson who flicked it past the defender. He raced onto it and his left footed cross come shot was flapped at by the home stopper, and landed kindly for Joe Squirrell who fired into the empty net. Crop elated, and Kenny outraged as the referee probably should have already blown for half time.
Half time 0-1
The game plan for Crop was working, but wing back Ben Coleman was complaining of blisters at half time. More of the same was needed, with Crop doing well to limit the chances.
The game was turned on it’s head within 4 minutes of the second period as Kenny drew level and Crop were forced into an early change. A counter attack by Kennington ended with a lovely ball in between the centre and full back. Bailey managed to save the initial effort but it landed at the back post where Jamie Davies tapped home to level the score.
Coleman came off following the goal, and with no like for like changes in the match day squad, it meant an enforced change of shape, and Kyran Beales entered the fray.
The change of shape unsettled Crop and Kennington began to take control and on the hour mark they won a penalty. Cropredy gave the ball away easily in the final third, and a long ball forward went over the back line. Bailey hesitated coming out, and once he did was too late, as the striker rounded him and was bought down. Indecisiveness killing Crop once again, and Aspinall and Woodcock had got back and could probably have killed off the chance for the home side. Skipper James Smith stepped up to give Kenny the lead. 2-1
Cropredy kept trying to fight and had a penalty of their own on 71 minutes as Kyran Beales was bought down, looked a little controversial with Kenny players appealing. Skipper Reeves who missed two spot kicks in pre season, stepped up, but this time fired home high into the goal to draw level.
Cropredy were desperately trying to hang on and get a point from the game, but another counter attack goal put the game back in the home sides favour. Crop once again gave the ball away sloppily from their own throw in. Kennington got forward and Jamie Davies got past MacDonald out wide, drifted into the area and fired past Bailey at his near post.82 minutes gone, and Crop were delated once again.
They had another great chance to extend their lead as a curling effort from the edge of the area cannoned off the post, and was cleared. The final whistle sounded and the 3 points went to Kennington.
Full Time – 3-2
A much improved performance from Cropredy who are in difficult period at the moment, but still no points to show for the performance. The change of shape early in the second half really disrupted the side and might have been a different outcome if that hadn’t happened.
Next up Crop host Halse Utd at Williamscot Road, a side we played twice in pre season (once in the Byfield Bethel Cup), and they have had a great start to their season, so will be another tough encounter as we try and turn the fortunes around.
Man of the match – Charlie MacDonald
MacDonald made the step up from the Devs side where he started the season, and had a solid performance. Was a very consistent performer under the current management with the Dev side last season.