There were to be no fools on April 1st for the 1st team who secured back-to-back wins and back-to-back clean sheets with this resounding win over Hampshire based Yateley United.
Priory lined up in their familiar 3-4-3 formation with a new look back line following a number of absentees whilst Yateley appeared to play a 4-5-1 formation.
Unsurprisingly on a heavy and boggy pitch in strong winds between two of the leagues struggling sides the game got off to a scrappy start and both teams were struggling to gain a foothold in the game with Yateley presenting most of the attacking intent in the first 20 minutes.
Having struggled to adapt to the conditions it was Mario Prom who took control and initiated a nice passing move down the right hand side for Priory which seemed to inspire a newfound confidence amongst the rest of the team. Now getting the ball down on the deck and controlling possession better, Priory began to utilize the pace of young Aaron Taylor down the left hand side who had the beating of his man. Luke Reid and captain Michael Winnister were working tirelessly in midfield to break up the 3 central midfielders of Yateley whilst trying to get up to support front man James Bolton in the box when Taylor was getting to the byline but to no avail as the crosses just didn’t seem to connect.
What seemed to be the breakthrough came in the 35th minute from the Priory right hand side when a testing diagonal cross found its way to the forward pressing wing-back Scott Johnson who slotted in calmly only to be denied by the offside flag. Up the other end Yateley were finding space in between the lines but with Priory centre back David James doing a fine job of man-marking the powerful Yateley forward Brad Smith they sometimes seemed lost for ideas when coming up against the resilient Priory back 3.
At half time there was only one change for Priory as James Bolton moved from his central forward position to his more natural position of centre midfield allowing the pacey Luke Reid to push up top and support the effective Aaron Taylor on the counter attack.
This change immediately paid off and Priory found themselves 1-0 up within 4 minutes of the 2nd half. Taylor was played through only to be brought down in the box. No penalty was given but in the panic of the moment Yateley stopper Adrian Giles rushed his distribution which was cut out by Reid who unselfishly pulled back to Taylor who dispatched tidily.
Within 5 minutes Taylor was clean through again and again he was brought down by the Yateley defence who were struggling to contain him. This time referee Kirk pointed to the spot and Bolton calmly put Priory 2 up with a driven shot into the bottom right corner.
It was in the 57th minute that Priory completed a 12 minute triple blow to the hosts as Taylor grabbed his 2nd of the game with a fine strike from distance into the top right corner.
Shell-shocked by the first 15 minutes of the 2nd half Yateley began to settle down and Priory seemed a little uncertain of how to deal with taking a 3-0 lead with still a good half an hour to play. Yateley started to control possession on the ball but Priory absorbed the pressure well and always looked dangerous on the counter attack. Yateley had a strong appeal for handball inside the Priory penalty area which was turned down by referee Kirk who was very unlikely to see through what was a large crowd of players.
Having had a couple of good chances on the counter attack with Bolton rounding a number of players but unable to release his shot and Reid finding his way through 1-on-1 on a couple of occasions, the Priory 4th was inevitably scored by the tenacious Reid who this time managed to round the keeper to slot into an empty net.
Yateley did have a late chance for a consolation in the final moments of the game as a corner was delivered to the far post only for the Yateley attacker to head against the post.
Having delivered a couple of decent performances and strong results, Priory head to title contenders Virginia Water next week at Windsor FC where they conclude their season and will hope to continue their recent form and end the season on a high.
Reigate Priory Team:
1 Ben Smythe
2 Michael Walker
3 Scott Johnson (61′ Harry Swann)
4 James Burwood
5 David James
6 Mario Prom
7 Miri Morina (51′ Matt Carter)
8 Michael Winnister (C)
9 James Bolton 53′
10 Luke Reid 68′
11 Aaron Taylor 49′ & 57′
12 Matt Carter (51′ Miri Morina)
14 Harry Swann (61′ Scott Johnson)
15 Dale Wyatt
Manager: Dale Wyatt & Ben Smythe