The feeling around Iden was of points lost rather than a point gained after an entertaining afternoon drawing 2-2 against a hard-working, industrious Ninfield side. Sam Cooper returned to the starting line-up due to the unavailability of Alfie Weller, otherwise the Iden side was unchanged from the winning side of last week.
Ninfield struck first with an exquisite long ball, leaving the Iden goalkeeper in no man’s land even after the scream of “Keepers” was clearly heard. Inch perfect, 1-0 Ninfield. Last week’s goal scorer, Chris Gould, smashed the crossbar from a distance but, in truth, lost the ball more often than retained it, poor corners and free kicks resulting in a non-vintage display. An amazing point-blank save from the away goalkeeper denied Rob Levett a goal; more opportunities fell for the home side with either poor finishing, a poor pass or no pass at all, resulting in the ball not hitting the net! Shane Ridgers made a small mend on his howler tipping over in style from another defensive mix-up. Iden thought they equalised through Justin Wall just before the break, only for the referee to judge a push from Wall on the six-foot six defender. A disgruntled Iden went in at half time one down.
The half-time talk led by manager Chip Winton was constructive and straight to the point, emphasising the fact our mistakes get punished and as a team we must force errors and take chances against the opponents. The same story continued in the second half. Sam Cooper terrorised the defence but lacked the finish or pass. Gould huffed puffed then huffed and puffed again. Levett made run after run without seeing a ball, but no goals.
Winton replaced Darren Warne with 20 minutes to go and, shortly after, Iden smiled when Jake Bryant rifled home from inside the box following good work from Cooper. Full steam ahead. The Ninfield goal became peppered – the forwards, the midfielders, Rob Wilson even Liam Cobly forcing a save from the Ninfield goalkeeper. With five minutes remaining Levett found Wall outside the box who fired the ball top corner to the delight of the home side. Gould forced a great save from the Ninfield centre back – with his hands; thankfully for the away team play on was waved, to the amazement of everyone on the field.
Skipper Tom Harris was faultless, no balls lost, no nutmegs, no aggro, a captain’s performance was happy his team led. With minutes remaining, Ninfield grabbed a corner. Rob Wilson had instructions from defending corners “mark the big lad” . . .well, he didn’t this time and a free head to an unmarked player in the six-yard box was smashed home. Two mistakes, two goals apiece!!! Iden did create one more attempt, but the goalkeeper produced an absolute out-of-this world save from Levett.
Two mistakes cost Iden in the end but missed chances from nearly every outfield player did highly contribute towards the cause. Despite it feeling a loss, Iden remain unbeaten and joint top of the table after three games. With Levett unavailable for the cup game against Peche Hill, Alfie Weller should step straight back into his number nine shirt.
Iden team: Ridgers, Cobly, Harris(c), Wilson, Willis, Bryant, Warne (Winton), Wall (J), Gould, Cooper, Levett. Subs not used: Wall (K), Oakman. Booked: Winton.
Man of the Match: Justin Wall.