AFC Cubo 1 Reigate Priory 2
Priory travelled to Barnes in South London to face another of the new sides joining the league this season, AFC Cubo. Cubo have started the season positively and would provide a tough test for a Priory side looking to get back to winning ways following back to back defeats.
Once again, Priory were bereft with injuries and unavailability. Chris Byrne and Rob Stratton were both struggling with injuries and did not make the trip with both Jamie Williams and James Stone also unavailable. The Reigate side were able to welcome back Travis Purnell in goal and a place on the bench for Danny Roberts (not Robbo Robson!). Both Shaun Blackwell and Dan Scott made the step up from the reserves to complete the squad for this tricky away trip for Priory.
Having arrived at the ground in good time, it was some what of a surprise that Priory started the game so slowly. With only 5 minutes on the clock, the new look backline was breached and Priory were behind. Whilst Arron Blackwood was off the pitch changing his boots, the man he should have been marking lofted a hit and hope ball over his shoulder which dissected the centre-back partnership of James Leask and Steve Beckett, leaving the Cubo forward the easy task of baring down on goal and slipping the ball past Travis. 1-0 and if Priory didn’t know they were in a game already, they did now. What should have provided the necessary kick up the backside failed to work as Priory almost saw themselves further behind with wasteful finishing from AFC, a last ditch tackle from skipper Paddley and a crucial save from Purnell keeping the score to a minimum. It was at this point that Priory started to get a foothold in the game and making their 4-5-1 formation work. Jaime Philcox was already working himself into the ground up front to hold the ball up and allow the Priory midfield to get up with him and it was from his pressure that Priory got themselves back into the game with 25 minutes played. He harried the full back into a hurried clearance which went off for a throw on. From his long throw, Liam Hogg rose the highest in a crowd of players to nod home his first goal of the season and get Priory back into it. The remainder of the first half was all Priory as they started to show some of the football that had taken Epsom to the wire a week prior. The backline had found their feet and were easily dealing with the Cubo pressure and starting up many of the attacks with their intelligent out play. An excellent ball by Paddley got Benson out wide. He moved the ball on to Payne who delivered a cross into Shaun Blackwell who jinked his way past the defender but was upended in the box. The ref had no choice but to point to the spot and give the penalty. Up stepped Dan Benson who had taken over penalty taking duties this season. Unfortunately, he failed to beat the goalkeeper and the chance was gone. Priory went into half time having played the better football at the end of the 1st period but a draw being a fair reflection of how the half had gone.
With Blackwood still fiddling with his boots, Priory went about trying to make amends for the penalty miss. Another slow start meant the backline of Doick, Beckett, Leask and Benson had to be on their toes with Purnell sweeping up any trouble behind. As the game wore on, there would only appear to be one winner as Priory went about stamping their authority on a match that was slowly turning in their favour. A day to forget for Blackwood as he was replaced by super-sub Danny Roberts and the Reigate side changed to 4-4-2 to try and get something out of the game. The hard-working Philcox earned his side a free kick which Shaun Blackwell took and made the keeper work hard to tip over the bar. With numerous corners, both Shaun’s and Hoggy’s deliveries were spot on as Priory tried to fashion a goal-scoring opportunity. With 15 minutes remaining, Dan Scott was bought on for his first appearance for the 1st team, in place of Steve Payne who had worked hard down the right hand side. Within 5 minutes of the change, Priory were in front with both substitutes playing a roll. Dan picked up the ball on the right hand side and fed in Philcox. He turned the defender and moved the ball across the box to the onrushing Roberts to apply the finishing touches on an excellent team goal (although his connection wasn’t true and gave the goalkeeper a chance to clear!). Robbo now moving to top goalscorer with 4 in 2 games! There was still 10 minutes for Priory to see out but crucial interceptions from Doick and Beckett along with a couple of smart saves (and cleaning out Benson) from Purnell meant that Priory were able to celebrate another away victory and their most hard fought points of the season to date.
Next up is our first home game at Park Lane against the league leaders Epsom Athletic. We need to show the battle and spirit from this game with the passing and football from the Epsom away game if we are going to get anything out of that game. Bring your A game boys!
Squad: Purnell, Benson, Beckett, Leask, Doick, Hogg, Blackwood, Paddley (c), Blackwell, Payne, Philcox, Roberts, Scott.