Priory made their first away trip of the season on Saturday, making the long trip to the lovely setting that is Virginia Water. Having enjoyed the view but not the visit last season (losing 5-4), they were hoping to make amends this season and get back to winning ways after a poor performance on Monday.
Unfortunately, Stratton and Hills were still missing through injury, Byrne had picked up a knock on Monday and was not risked and both Stone and Blackwood were unavailable. Priory travelled with a depleted squad but were pleased to have Rob Horan starting his first game after injury and welcomed back both Jamie Williams and Danny Robson into the fold. Jaime Philcox earnt his first start of the season.
On what was a very hot day and, in this honest writers opinion, too hot a day for football, Priory set about trying to gain a foothold in the match. After a promising start, where we almost scored in the first minute of the game, Priory were undone by a mixture of poor defending and a bit of bad luck. G Davies did not take the opportunity to clear his lines and was dispossessed of the ball. Their players centre looked like being cleared from danger by Horan but a cruel double ricochet landed kindly for the striker and he gratefully finished the ball past Purnell for an early 1-0 lead. For the rest of the half, Priory tried to unpick the lock that was the Virginia defence. Numerous corners, free kicks and crosses peppered the Virginia box but to no avail. Priory were also lucky to go into half time only a goal down after a super save from Travis kept the score down and a foul in the box went unnoticed by the referee.
A disgruntled Gaffer Davies (still not sure what crawled up his backside that day!) gave the team a dressing down at half time and asked them to go out and show the bottle that had been missing from the start of the season. Whatever he said (or whatever they put in the orange) seemed to work as Priory came out looking fresh and playing some of the stuff that got them up to 3rd at one point last season. After having the lion share of the possession in the second half, it was a moment of luck that got Priory back into it. After some good interchange on the left involving Hoggy and Beckett, Becketts left wing crossed looked destined to be caught by the goalkeeper. However, a mis-field saw the ball cross line and Priory were back in the game. Then came the game changing decision. Philcox, after working hard up front on his own in the heat, was given a rest and was replaced by Danny Robson. It only took 3 minutes for Robbo to make an impression on the game as he latched onto a short back pass and slide in to place the ball past the keeper and put Priory in front. Then 10 minutes later, it was like déjà vu as a mix up at the back by Virginia left Robbo with the task of sliding in bravely to get his second and Priory’s third goal. With 10 minutes left, Travis made a “worldy” save to keep Priory’s 2 goal margin in place and Priory promptly went up the other end on the break and gained their fourth and decisive goal. Payney slipped in Beckett and, as he rounded the last defender, he lost his footing and went to ground. As he tried to get back up to put the cross in, the referee pointed to the spot and gave a penalty. Despite Beckett stating there was no contact, the referee could not change his mind and Robbo was given the task of dispatching the penalty and scoring a hat-trick on his first team debut. Not bad for the guy who was called up from the reserves at the last minute to replace Byrney! A great team performance and another 3 points on the board for Priory.
Squad: Purnell, Benson, G Davies, Horan, Doick, Beckett, Hogg, Paddley (c), Soares, Williams, Philcox, Robson, Payne, Ndazi