THE GOODE, THE BEN AND THE UGLY ...
A fistful of points for the bounty hunters from BEHC
Match-day manager Mark Ainley would have been forced into shuffling his resources around yet again after last week's home win ... but sadly he too was unable to make this fixture in the Highwaymen's "nemesis city" Sittingbourne, where the team had not won against any of its clubs for over three years. As a result it was all-change for the visitors in white, who created yet another family dynasty (after the Clealls, Dowses, Greens etc.) with young keeper Ben Wickramasuriya taking a bow alongside his dad for a Club debut enforced by the current critical shortage of keepers. Welsh wizard Phil Goode made his first appearance of the season in midfield, thus cancelling out at a stroke any average age advantage gained by fielding the teenage keeper, and the squad was more than happy to welcome back Richard Cleall and Andy Rose, both absent the previous week.
So it really was a case of "The Goode, the Ben and the Ugly", the latter category comprising any number of our own ranks, or perhaps best describing the team's attempts at actually trying to put the ball into the opposition net. Old Bordenians have added three youngsters to their team and opened proceedings with some enterprising stuff which gave the game an end-to-end feel about it, and the visitors were indeed indebted to a fine one-on-one stop by keeper Ben Wickramasuriya on one of the few occasions when they genuinely threatened. However, it did not take long for the Club to start exploiting the huge gaps in midfield and on the wings which were indeed reminiscent of the massive open landscapes of Sergio Leone's spaghetti westerns. The lead, when it came on the quarter-hour mark, was well worked in the D and finished smartly by the predatory Pat Gainey, but despite numerous opportunities from both open play and short corners thereafter, that was that for the next three-quarters of an hour.
The win was ultimately sealed by two goals in five minutes midway through the second half, the second a virtual replica of the first, as Ravi Wickramamsuriya twice ghosted through the home defence to the right byline, drove forward and crossed for Club legend Andy Rose to convert two goals and show his colleagues how it is done. The fourth goal, however, was a thing of considerable beauty - just like its scorer - as Richard Cleall picked up the loose ends just outside the centre of the D, pressed on and smacked an unstoppable shot into the right-hand corner. The home keeper had a excellent game too, even if there was nothing he could do about the ten-minute blitz that effectively decided things in the visitors' favour. It was just a shame that his opposite number did not get the clean sheet he deserved, as in typical fashion the Highwaymen were anything but ruthless, got out the deck-chairs and let in a scrappy consolation goal with five minutes left. In what is likely to be a very tight division where goal difference might be important come March, such carelessness at both ends of the pitch might well prove costly in the long run.
Slimline midfielder Ali Burnett was again prominent throughout after shedding nearly a stone in a week via his crash diet, whilst strenuously denying that he had achieved this weight loss via an over-vigorous haircut. Among a number of worthy candidates for the man-of-the-match award, he was somewhat undemocratically relegated to the runners-up slot due to the team's young keeper being both brilliant and more hirsute. Hats off too to "Mr. Versatility", Greg Dowse, who once again showed what an admirable team-man he is by slotting in seamlessly at right-back and turning in yet another fine display.
Next up is the much anticipated "home" derby vs. BEHC Dynamos.
As a footnote, apologies to the regular readers of the Highwaymen's reports (both of you), but for the foreseeable future these may be more abbreviated and to the point than previously. Apart from some people at the Club complaining that they have missed important family celebrations, the birth of grandchildren and entire series of "Game of Thrones" whilst reading these lengthy diatribes, the recent advent of post-censorship publication on Wednesdays has generally meant that any appetite for digesting the previous week-end's match via a short midweek novel has somewhat waned.
Ben Wickramasuriya, tim walters, Steve Miller, Richard Cleall, Ravi Wickramasuriya, Greg Dowse, Andy Rose, Phil Goode, Pat Gainey, sammy chana, Ali Burnett, Raj Phull and Stephen Gilbert (C).
Ben Wickramasuriya - a great senior debut.
Old Bordenians supplied both umpires from their Ladies' section, and they kept a tight rein on what in the past has been a rather combustible affair. They did a good impartial job throughout, possibly allowing a bit too much physical contact, but well done and thanks to both of them.