Academy team claim victory away from home...
Our first game back after a three week break from fixtures saw us pit our wits against an improving Wimbledon side, who had played really well at Beechings Cross earlier on in the season, when both teams played out an entertaining 1-1 draw.
This time round there were a couple of new faces to our team, with the re-integration of Stephen Butcher after a long lay-off with injury and also Sam Muggleton who hadn’t signed his apprenticeship before then.
The game was tough and played at a very high tempo with both sides coming close on a couple of occasions in the first-half but neither really taking a foothold in the game. There were some industrious performances from Alfie Coates and Aiden Blanchard in midfield, and also some good defending on display from Josh Staunton and Michael Freiter in the middle of defence.
Ollie Lee played the holding role and grew more accustomed to the position as the game went on. At half-time I asked the players to focus on the positive things that had happened in that half and to try and emulate that in the second. I was very proud of the response. Our full-backs looked to get forwards and our play was forward thinking and out tempo very high, and the chances began to arrive.
However, as is so often the case, we conceded on the counter attack after giving the ball away cheaply in the opponents half. To be fair to Wimbledon, they broke so well and I have to say it was a great goal – made at pace and finished well by George Oakley.
However, we did not let that beat us, and I was delighted with our belief to get back into the game. Listening to the boys motivate each other after conceding that goal was very pleasing as they knew they were the team on top and it was just a question of keeping up the levels of play that had given them the dominance.
Connor Hendricks and Alex Arif were introduced and Connor especially gave a bit more impetus in forward areas and it was his run that made the first goal through Josh Maughan who had taken up a great position to fire home from 18-yards.
Result aside, a great test of character achieved with flying colours!!!
After another spell of pressure and also some good play from Charlie Webster and Aaron Millbank, Lee stepped up to stab home a rebound to give us a last minute victory.
The John Ullmann Cup Second Round tie away at Lewes that was scheduled for Tuesday December 11 was postponed due to a frozen pitch at the Dripping Pan. The game has been re-arranged for Thursday January 10 with a 7.45pm kick-off.
Gills: Nalder, Staunton , Freiter, Maughan, Lee, Muggleton,(Arif 70) Blanchard ,(Hendricks 65), Sellens, (Butcher 60), Webster, Millbank, Coates.