Brockham Badgers 3 - Moor Mead Athletic 2
Moor Mead fell to another straight 3-2 defeat in frosty Surrey - but can take heart from a rousing fight back which very nearly secured a point.
It was a quintessential game of two halves: the Parakeets were listless and well beaten before half-time, irresistible for stretches of the second period.
The thermometer stubbornly refused to budge from 1C before kick off, but that gave a very boggy pitch a much-needed crusting of white.
The sides were evenly matched in the opening exchanges. There were some nice touches, but nobody was able to carve out a significant opening.
Brockham were the first to go close, Daniel clearing off the line. At the other end, Elliot robbed the keeper, but couldn’t convert from an acute angle.
It was the home side that took the lead. The ball got tangled in Louis’ feet, and the Brockham striker smashed home the loose ball from the edge of the box (1-0).
Ollie threaded a ball to Shiafulah, who shot wide, but Moor Mead seemed to go into their shell, with nobody taking the initiative in the centre of the park. Alec was kept busy as Brockham pressed. He came out sharply to smother a dangerous break down the left, then got down well to make another save from the resulting corner.
Moor Mead were reduced to half-chances. The Brockham keeper charged out to thwart Zac on the break, while Will S, Ollie, Zac, and Tom combined well to win a corner, in one of the Parakeets’ rare fluid moves.
But it was the home side, well organised, and incisive in the final third, who extended their lead, a lovely chip over the defence clinically converted into the far corner (2-0).
Moor Mead looked like a side struggling for confidence as their opponents pressed for a third before the break. Fortunately, first Louis was on hand to turn the ball away with Alec stretched, then William W, who looked solid at the back, cleared off the line on the stroke of half-time.
Birthday boy Coach Matthews shook things up at half-time, and the new central midfield pairing of Dilly and Louis seemed to give Moor Mead more cohesion in the second period. Ollie had a shot saved, and then linked well with Zac as the Parakeets began to assert themselves.
They got their reward when Ollie hooked a through ball to ZAC, who for once had space. He turned on the afterburners to race clear and shoot past the keeper (2-1)
Brockham still posed a threat on the break. But Moor Mead levelled things up with a near carbon copy of the first goal. Ollie won the ball well, fed Shiafulah, who freed ZAC once again, and he coolly chipped the onrushing keeper (2-2).
Suddenly confidence and energy seemed to flood back to the team, as the temperature topped a balmy 3C. Zac was denied a quick fire hat trick as Moor Mead started to knock the ball around well, and at the other end Jeremias produced a superb tackle to snuff out a break down the left flank.
But just when the Parakeets looked favourites to complete the comeback, the ball fell loose on the edge of the box, and a Brockham striker unleashed a piledriver out of Alex’s grasp (3-2). It was a real punch to the solar plexus, but much to their credit, Moor Mead hammered away for an equaliser, laying siege to the Brockham box, with Zac and Louis, who had a great game, to the fore.
Finally Ollie was brought down, but Tom’s penalty, on the stroke of full time, was well saved. It was a cruel blow. The Parakeets deserved something more tangible for their second half exploits than birthday doughnuts, but they do have something to build on ahead of a season-defining double league and cup encounter with the formidable ESPA.