Iden’s disappointing league points total was yet again dented by current Premier division champions Hollington as they lost 2-0 at the Park, Iden. Key players missing, including Sam Cooper, skipper Tom Harris and Robert Wilson, meant a change in system and a different style of football being imposed by manager Chip Winton.
A new defensive team of Luke Willis, Darren Warne, Francis Walker and Liam Cobley were instructed to play a more direct approach with the forward line of Kyran Wall, Ben Heffernan and skipper Robert Levett told to run! For the first 20 minutes Iden kept to the game plan and looked the more threatening side, the midfield of Jake Bryant and Justin Wall being bypassed in possession yet working like dogs to regain the ball when Hollington pressed in attack. Chris Gould playing behind the central striker found valuable space to pick his passes and keep Hollington working. All was good until Alan Foster scored for the away side against the run of play, the first time Iden failed to clear early danger.
Iden were under the cosh for a while before half time but did get the ball in the net, only for the lino to declare it offside. Iden unfortunately lost Liam Cobley before the half time break, falling victim to a nasty twist of the ankle, with Nathan Hills being his replacement. Manager Winton could not fault his side: they were battling, listening and working as a team. With Gould in the mood to play and the likes of Levett and Heffernan on a scoring roll, surely Iden would equalise in the second half?
Big Frank was a giant at the back: the no-nonsense gentle giant had the goalscoring machine of Shane Ryan in his pocket and it was evident the Hollington stalwart was getting frustrated. When Iden’s lino Alec Tiltman raised his flag for the second time with the ball in Iden’s net Ryan found himself in the ref’s book for an attempted kick on Walker. Iden were getting under the skin of the champs much to the delight of Winton, who was grinning like a Cheshire cat!
Levett had two glorious opportunities, but squandered both chances, and Gould forced a great save from the visiting goalkeeper. Iden then gambled and reverted to a more attacking formation. Shane Ridgers was alert in goal, smothering the ball at the feet of the attacker twice before Hollington scored a fantastic free kick, hitting the inside of the post with minutes remaining. Totally undeserved.
Although Iden lost 2-0 and dropped a place to fourth in the league, Winton was proud of his men, who deserved more but came off the pitch with their heads held high with each and everyone having given their all.
Man of the match: Francis Walker.
Iden team: Ridgers, Cobley(Hills), Willis, Warne, Walker, Wall, Bryant, Levett, Wall(Harris), Heffernan, Gould.
Sub not used: Oakman.