The Anglian Knights are still yet to win, despite playing well this season, they haven’t had their rub of the green and this continued on Saturday against Plumstead Rangers.
It was perfect conditions for football, the ground was moist, the sun was low and the morale was high in spite of the Knights league position.
The boys in white started strongly, pushing the Plumstead defence right up to their penalty area for much of the first half. The first chance fell to Louie Watts with a header from a corner. Matt Jillings great ball in was met in the air by Watts, but it went straight at the keeper who parried it out for another corner.
There were many shouts for Anglian to go ahead, with Craig Kiddell and Jim Newman teaming well up front, but the offside trap proved difficult to beat.
Anglian went behind against the run of play when a counter attack from Plumstead down the right resulted in a cross, which stand in goalkeeper Kirk Lanckmans did well to punch out of the area, but it fell to the right boot of their number 10 who smashed it emphatically into the top right corner to put the red team in front.
This did not deter Anglian’s attacking football and they continued to press, with Matt Jillings utilising his pace down the right, but the keeper did brilliantly in the one-on-one situation to deny a goal. There was then a disallowed goal, as Liam Smith appeared to break the offside trap, he went through on goal and buried the ball in the net, but the linesman waved a late flag, claiming offside, although it looked a dubious decision!
However, his best efforts were not going to prevent Joe Young smashing the ball into the net moments later. Another corner for Anglian, crossed in by Jillings, was challenged by Watts, but his shot was blocked, the ball bobbled in the penalty area falling to Joe Young who made no mistake burying the ball in the back of the net. 1-1 Half time score.
Half time came when Anglian were looking brilliant with some free flowing football, but the break ruined their momentum and gave Plumstead the advantage. They pressed for much of the second half, but never really looked like scoring.
It turned into a psychological game as the tension rose and some players were getting too carried away, with some rash challenges and bickering going on throughout.
It was not too long into the second half when Plumstead took the lead again albeit through controversial proceedings. A shot came in from a free-kick, which was saved by Lanckmans, but he spilt it, and then caught it, but the wet ball kept slipping. Although it looked like he had hold of the ball at the time, the Plumstead right back toe poked the ball out of the hands of the outstretched keeper and into the net. The referee said nothing giving Rangers the lead. 2-1
Anglian are well and truly used to this situation now and being behind never knocks the team ethic and spirit, and it didn’t take too long for them to find a reply.
Great play by Jillings again down the right, took him into the Rangers half, before his pass to Jake was flicked on to Jim Newman who broke his goal deficit with a delightful half volley into the top right corner, giving the keeper no chance.
There wasn’t long left and Plumstead were still coming at Anglian and with just 2 minutes to go, the reds won a corner, again in controversial circumstances, after Louie Watts was blatantly fouled, but neither linesman nor referee spotted it. The ball was driven into the 6 yard area and somehow bundled over the line. 3-2
It was a heated game, and the Knights deserved to come out with at least a point. I cannot knock a single players performance in this game, the defence looked comfortable and worked brilliantly as a unit. Finally, well done to Kirk Lanckmans for stepping up to go in goal.
This game proves the work that the lads have put in is starting to come together, throughout the game there were excellent periods of technical ability, confidence and team spirit.
Mark Cooke had his first game in charge as captain and it could not have been a harder one for him, he knew what I wanted from him and he delivered. We knew at the start of the game that Plumstead were there for the taking having watched them the previous week. A couple of new additions to there team changed it slightly, but I knew how to approach them as a team and with the lads confidence thriving my expectations were high. We started off very well and maintained a great level of discipline, we had some key players missing with Coops and Tom both unavailable this week, however, Kirk stepped up to the plate and did a fantastic job between the sticks in place of Coops. The defence looked solid with a fantastic display from Ross and Joe along with Ian and Kierstan. Midfield had the look of being able to match any team in this league through ability, pace and determination, and with Jim sporting his Movember ‘tash’ up top with Craig, all the cogs were in position.
We did what we always seem to do and went one down quite early on, its at times like this when you have a choice to accept it and take it as a defeat or step up to the plate, and boy did the lads step up. The passing became exceptional at times with the midfield lads picking apart the Plumstead defence for fun. Unfortunately four dubious offsides decisions, one of which would have made any bloopers video for refereeing decisions, meant that the jinx of this season seemed to still be weighing heavily on our shoulders. That was until Joe Young came up with the goods to put us back in contention, the morale lifted and we pressed and pressed again terrorising the Plumstead defence.
We knew that Plumstead were up against the ropes and with the continuous complaining from their players for any decision we knew it was going to be a very interesting remainder of the game and focused on our football. It continued with some very poor decisions from the referee stopping play to allow them make a substitute whilst we were attacking, and the continued linesman offside decisions unfortunately turned the game on its head. Plumstead scored from what can only be described from my point of view as a clear foul on the keeper. The lads did not let this them affect them and again turned on the style with some lovely, fluent, devastating passing, which lead to the set up of Jim ‘Salmon’ Newman for a very well taken half volley, that left the keeper with no chance. 2-2 back in the game.
Only a few minutes remained in the game and I could see the finish line and the possibility to pinch all 3 points based on how we were playing. However, Plumstead and their supporters continued to influence refereeing decisions and right at the death, a clear, blatant obstruction on Louie, that neither linesman nor referee claim to have seen, lead to a corner that was bundled in to hand us defeat.
The home game against Plumstead is going to be a very interesting game as this was a defeat that should never have happened and the Anglian lads will want retribution for Saturday.
We are currently bottom of a league with 0 points and this is getting a bitter pill to swallow. However, for our first season and having only played 8 games together we are showing signs of becoming a very dangerous team already, I am confident that someone in this league is going to feel the full force of the ‘Knights’ and its not going to be too long before that happens.