Reigate Priory made the long trip to Battersea to face an Ironsides team that had started the season as up and down as Priory had. Priory were able to welcome back Rob Stratton and Steve Payne to the starting line-up with Chris Byrne still unavailable due to injury.
During the early stages of the match, it was Priory that looked the most likely to open the scoring as they caught Battersea cold. Steve Beckett saw a volley saved by the keeper in the first minute as Priory had a succession of corners in a short period as they looked to get an early goal in this encounter. After a swift counter-attack involving Steve Payne and Stratts, the ball fell to Beckett again, around 25 yards out. He cut inside his defender and unleashed a shot that looked destined to curl in off the far post but just went agonisingly wide. Further chances from distance for both Jamie Williams and Stratton failed to trouble the goalkeeper. It was at this point that Battersea started to slowly pull themselves back into the game. Having seen Priory not taking their chances, Battersea grew in confidence and scored two goals in quick succession to take the sting out of Priory’s tail. The first was a good move involving the two centre midfielders who combined to set the left midfielder away after a ball over Benson’s head. Despite Travis making a save from the original shot, it kindly fell to the striker who was able apply the finish into an empty net. The second followed only a couple of minutes later and it had a hint of offside about it. The striker appeared to flick the ball on to his strike partner who may have been in an offside position and he delicately lifted the ball over Travis to extend their lead to two goals. With ten minutes of the first half remaining, Priory enjoyed their best spell of the match. Firstly, a Beckett free kick caused confusion in the box and Stratton was there to pounce on the loose ball and get Priory back in it. Then, just before half time, Stratton unleashed a strike from outside the area which was fumbled into the goal by the keeper and Priory were back in it, 2-2 at half-time.
Unfortunately, Priory could not emulate their form from late in the first half. The second half started slowly as both teams appeared cagey and didn’t want to make the mistake that would lead to them losing the game. Then with 30 minutes remaining, Liam Hogg was slipped in behind the defence and went through one on one with the goalkeeper. Having scored two goals for the Surrey Elite Representative side during the week, most would have backed him to score. Unfortunately, he fluffed his lines, missed the target and the chance was gone. Up until about 10 minutes to go, Priory did not look like conceding again and a draw looked the most likely result. A couple of moments of lapsed concentration led to Priory being hit by another two goals in quick succession in the final ten minutes of the match. Firstly, a long and hopeful punt forward from a free kick fell to the Battersea striker with his back to goal and 18 yards out. Somehow, he managed to flick the ball on beyond Travis and into the far corner to send the Battersea players into a frenzy. Then, 2 minutes later, Doicky, who had kept their right midfielder quiet all game, just failed to stop his man getting the cross in and the striker got on the blind slide of Benson to nod in for a 4-2 lead. Having worked so hard to get back into the match, it was a touch break for the Reigate side. There was still a couple of late chances for Priory, one falling to Philcox (who had replaced Payne) from a Stratton cross on the left and Stratts had a chance to complete his hat-trick as the ball fell to him on his unfavoured right foot but he scuffed his shot and the chance was gone. The full time whistle went and Priory were left to ponder what could have been. Even better news, Priory next travel to league leaders Epsom Athletic on Thursday night. It never rains but it pours.
Squad: Purnell, Benson, G Davies, Horan, Doick, Beckett, Hogg, Paddley (c), Payne, Williams, Stratton, Philcox, King, Blackwood.