Sutton Common Rovers 2 Sporting Club Thamesmead 1
SCR made the perfect start, the game was only a minute old when Michael Campbell won a header on the edge of the area, and Fernandez latched onto the flick before firing beyond Sporting Club Thamesmead (formerly Seven Acre & Sidcup) keeper Simon Vanderhook for 1-0, writes Gary Brigden
We continued our positive start, and a from a whipped in Fernandez corner, Charlie Emery was just unable to get a header on goal. Minutes later, and Campbell was scythed down by Ashley Kempster as we kept up the pressure. From the free kick Matt Robinson’s flicked header was well held by Vanderhook.
The opening ten minutes were up there with the best we have played all season, and we were seemingly cutting Thamesmead open at will. On eight minutes, Robinson got beyond Kempster and his low cross was met by the on-rushing Campbell who was unable to divert the ball goalwards.
Gradually though the visitors settled into the game, with the powerful Abbas Agoro starting to have an influence in the middle of the park, and the excellent Josh Patrick started to cause George Murphy and Owen Davies some problems with his movement.
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Emery forced a comfortable save out of Vanderhook on 12 minutes, before the Acre had a good spell of possession around our area, with Patrick, strike partner Dan Parish and Gary Phillimore all involved, and a couple of dangerous balls into the area were well dealt with by Murphy.
On the quarter hour, Davies conceeded a free kick wide on the right, Thamesmead sent up both centre halves, but the final delivery was just over the top of Alfie Harris, and our goal remained intact.
Campbell almost latched onto a neat Robinson through ball on 19 minutes, but couldn’t get the ball under control. Acre broke quickly through Tony Hill, and a neat ball released Phillimore on the right, but his low cross went across the face of our goal, with no Acre player on hand to score.
The warning signs were there though, our opponents were growing in confidence, and were giving as good as they got, and they levelled things up on 23 minutes. A long ball forward was dropped, under pressure by Bowden, and whilst the big keeper will be disappointed with the goal, there can be no denying the quality of Patrick’s overhead kick that bought the scores level.
Campbell was clattered on 25 minutes by Harris, earning the Acre defender a booking and from the free kick Fernandez effort was off target to the left. Parish and Patrick then linked up well to finnd Phillimore, and his low cross into the area was well defended by Murphy and cleared for an Acre throw. Harris and Agoro then combined with Agoro pinging a lovely ball out to the right, and we were forced to defend a dangerous Phillimore cross.
There was plenty to keep the spectators on entertained, and the Acre were given a great chance to take the lead when a ball over the top by Kempster found Patrick, who had run from deep but he could only fire his effort over the bar.
Fernandez was hauled back by Harris as he surged towards goal, but play was waved on and cleared by Acre. Ten minutes before the break and a hopeful cross-shot by SCR skipper Aaron Bogle was turned over their own bar by an Acre defender (too many bodies in front, so couldn’t see who). From the corner, Miguel Anderson put a free header high over the bar.
We then had to weather a decent spell of Acre pressure, with the ball being kept by Agoro and company in the middle of the park, as the visitors probed for an opening, fortunately we were alert to any danger, with the backline, including emergency right back Andrew White, on top form.
As the half approached its conclusion, we had two opportunities to take the lead, firstly Robinson was denied by an excellent Vanderhook save when through one-on-one, then Davies eluded his marker at a corner and thumped home a header, only for the referee to have spotted a push, and chalk the goal off.
An entertaining first half ended with the scores level and all to play for.
Bogle and Emery linked up well in the opening minutes of the half, to force a corner. From the corner Emery crashed a shot goalwards striking the Acre defender in the “gentlemans area”, but seeing it deflected behind for a corner (very much body on the line by the Acre lad). From the second corner a quick break involving Patrick and Parish ended when Bogle got across to clear the danger.
Murphy did well to stop a long ball from reaching Patrick, and then the otherwise outstanding White was caught over-playing, but fortunately the final Acre ball was just overhit and we survived a scare.
Robinson saw a shot comfortably gathered by Vanderhook on 54 minutes, and at the other end a surging run by Agoro saw him get beyond three players and lay the ball into Patrick, but Bowden was out sharply to smother.
It has to be said the game was pretty entertaining, with lots of effort and endeavour from both sides, but far too often the final ball was overhit or just off its intended target, leading to frustration in the stands.
Neat play on the hour by White and Anderson ended with a great interception by Hardie, as the ball headed towards Campbell. From the corner Davies saw his header gathered by Vanderhook, and from the keepers quick clearance we were almost caught out, but White was across quickly to clear.
Darren Salmon made his first change with 25 minutes remaining, with Sean Bradley replacing Anderson. Campbell went close two minutes later when he latched onto an Emery ball, rounded Vanderhook, but just put to much onto the ball, and the chance went begging.
White again did well on 71 minutes, when he did just enough to prevent a dangerous Patrick cross from reaching the man at the back stick. We retook the lead with 15 minutes remaining. Emery and Bradley linked up to find Fernandez, he beat one challenge before firing low beyond Vanderhook for 2-1.
Bradley was bought down on 80 minutes after a neat ball by Bogle, leading to the referee pointing to the spot, however an eagle eyed linesman had spotted Bradley go just to soon and the decision correctly reversed to a free kick for offside.
Bogle made a tremendous block on 82 minutes after an Agoro ball had found a wide open Acrea player, and his shot was heading goalwards before the SCR skippers intervention. Two goal hero Fernandez was withdrawn on 82 minutes for cult hero Francois Gabbidon, playing, as it turned out, his last game for the club (for the foreseeable future anyway).
Campbell clattered Vanderhook on 84 minutes, and was possibly fortunate not to receive any kind of card and Davies made a superb interception to prevent the Acre from potentially levelling the scores.
The Acre were given a great chance to level things up two minutes from time, when Iwan Lewis was felled on the edge of our area. From the strike, Robinson, in the wall, deflected the ball behind for a corner. We continued to defend manfully, as the Acre had us under all sorts of pressure, and we were unable to clear our lines and ease the pressure. After what seemed an age we eventually did, White, Robinson and Gabbidon linked up to set up Campbell, but his shot was well saved by Vanderhook.
The keeper tried to set the Acre away quickly, but skipper Bogle took one for the team, stopping the break and earning himself a booking.
Seconds later the whistle blew, and the lads progressed to the 3rd round for the second year running, and another home tie, this time against Southern Counties East Premier division side Corinthian.
A word on our opponents today. Top quality on and off the pitch, just a genuinely great bunch of people, from the officials, to the management, players and supporters. Their league position is clearly false, with two dominant centre halves, an imposing presence in the middle of the park, and in Josh Patrick a forward who would grace a couple of steps higher, they should soon turn things around.