Manager: Phil Godwin
KPR Reds 3 – 1 Claygate
Scorers: Jackson, Joe, Ben
The return fixture against a highly respected, yet team the boys really believe they were due a result over, had come early in the season with the visit of Claygate.
The coaches had clearly analysed the first game, deploying significant pace in defence and attack and looking to control midfield, all gelled together with a strong passing ethos.
Right from the outset the tactics looked spot on. The Reds were first to the ball and more than that, were using it wisely with crisp passing and making a pacey, hard working Claygate look slow for the first time we’ve played them. Sean was showing good control, touch and lay off on the left and Joe was snapping away driving the team forward. In the first 5 minutes Claygate hardly had a touch and soon after a fast passing Reds move led to a dubious disallowed goal. But the Reds weren’t to be denied, and more good passing play put Claygate on the back foot. Tarun found Jackson with a well thought out pass in space about 25 yards out, the defence backed off and unchallenged Jackson took a couple of strides forward before hitting one of the shots of the season, a high shot dipping and curling into the far top corner giving the Claygate keeper no chance and 1-0 KPR. A beauty!
The Reds were dominating, but Claygate’s pacey number 9 was always going to be a threat, and soon after the goal a through ball found him with the shot going close. The Reds continued their passing and moving play, with a Ben shot resulting in an excellent save from Claygate’s keeper. Tarun was linking excellently in the middle with good touch and pass, and Jack was causing the Claygate defence to hang back with bursts of pace and link play, freeing up more space for the Reds midfield. And the boys weren’t to be denied another goal their play deserved as more excellent passing play released Joe in the area, who jinked round his defender before whipping a shot into the far bottom corner. Another outstanding finish and 2-0 KPR.
Claygate aren’t top of the league by accident, and as the 2nd half neared the end started to excerpt some pressure for the first time in the game, with the Reds defence unable to fully clear and another excellent finish in the game beating Pip. 2-1. It could have been 2-2 were in not for an excellent Pip save diving low to his right to save a powerful shot shortly after. And half time came at a good time for the Reds as Claygate had started to play their way into the game.
The second half got underway and we wondered if the Reds would continue to be on top, or if Claygate would come back into the match. We didn’t have to wait long to find out! Sacha was controlling and linking well on the right, driving forward, and Henryk was causing danger with runs on the left, pushing Claygate back. While the pacey number 9 was starting to cause problems, Alex was sticking to him like glue, consistently reading the runs well, tackling, and launching new Reds attacks, supported by some great tackling by Taurn who had dropped back to support the back line. The Reds had started well. However, Claygate were by now really throwing everything at the boys, with Tarun keeping up but bringing down the striker in the box and a penalty to Claygate. Pip was the coolest player on the pitch, and read the spot kick well which just went wide of his right post – diving the right way. A let off! (Although Pip may have had it covered!) Still, this was Claygate’s best period and another through ball led to a close range shot again well saved by Pip.
The Reds had weathered the storm, with Claygate looking visible tired, and the boys started again to dominate possession and create attack after attack. As the half wore on the Reds looking by far the more likely to score. Alfie was taking the game to Claygate with numerous bursts forward, supported by the boys controlling the middle and defence. And the third goal came with some excellent, sharp passing finding Ben at the edge of the box, who cut back, turned and shot coolly slotting into the bottom right corner. Another super finish and 3-1 KPR. As the game neared the end the Reds looked comfortable, and could easily have added a fourth goal.
The Reds had dominated play for the majority of the first half and most of the second following early Claygate pressure, and while Claygate had shown real flashes of danger, in the end the boys had outplayed a very good team and thoroughly deserved the win. Full respect to Claygate – a great team we love playing – but a fantastic performance and result for the boys. MoTM: KPR Reds!