This week, the penultimate friendly for the Priory A team, saw the visit of Charlwood Reserves, a division 2 side who struggled for form last season. Priory needed a decent result here not only to wash away last week’s poor memories, but to also prove they could compete with sides in a league they must aspire to.

Yet again the Priory side had a fair few changes: Harry Wilson, Dave Hall, Ken Yau, Steve Gardner and Michael Walker all making themselves available.

This week saw no change in goal, James Richardson starting his second game on the trot for the A team. Gilo was partnered with Gardner this week, with Yau and Tim Austin full backs.

The midfield was largely unchanged, but the return of Walker for his first A team appearance of the season did put a few smiles on the faces of the home fans. Martin Baxter, Aaron Lawrence and Tony Evans were alongside him.

Matt Bone and Sean Doyle made up the attack for their second game together in a row. Hall, John Braund and Herby made up the bench.

The game started well for both sides with early minutes played largely in the middle third. Both teams had early forays, but with no luck. Both keepers made themselves useful in the early exchanges.

However, the deadlock was finally broken 25 minutes into the game. Who else but Aaron Lawrence stepped up to take a free kick on the left hand side of the box after a free kick was awarded. Opting to drill the ball low and hard with the outside of the boot caught the Charlwood wall unawares and the ball made its way past the wall, only to hit the spare defender. The ball fell kindly to the closest man, Doyle, who had ample time to take a touch, turn and caress the ball into the roof of the net with none other than his right foot! Priory took a deserved lead and made their possession count. Gardner had an opportunity to make it two but his unchallenged header from a Bone corner sailed over the bar.

Charlwood didn’t have much to offer other than the odd long ball but Gilo and Gardner were equal to most of those, cutting them out before the danger could develop. The first half finished 1-0.

Priory came out in the second half knowing that one more goal might have been enough to see off the threat of Charlwood and that their fitness would show in the closing stages. This turned out to be the case with Doyle beating a defender but opting to shoot too early putting the ball over the bar.

Despite the decent amount of possession and pressure being applied Priory had a momentary lapse in concentration. The Charlwood right midfielder made a decent run down the wing and played the ball square into the box. No Priory player in the box could get a decent touch on the ball and it bobbled around in the area for an eternity until finally the Charlwood forward took the initiative and slotted the ball home. Charlwood had drawn level.

The closing stages of the game saw Priory go close on a number of occasions. Herby made the keeper work and Bone’s decent runs won a number of corners. Richardson did well in goal and was forced to make a fine save, tipping the ball over the bar that might have gone in last week, his positioning much improved.

But it was down to Bone’s sheer determination and engine to pounce on a loose ball at the death on the half-way line that gave the Priory side hope, hope that they might take the lead for the second time in the game in what was surely the last minute of the tie. Bone intercepted a weak back pass on the half way line to find himself through on goal with only the keeper to beat and not a defender in sight. The other Priory midfielders and forwards were showing signs of fatigue and were unable to keep up with Bone to provide the much needed support. As he focused in on goal the on-rushing keeper forced Bone to try a cheeky scoop with didn’t quite go to plan, the keeper managed to pluck the ball out of the air with ease.

The final whistle was blown moments after Bone squandered a game-winning chance with the game at 1-1.

A decent display by the lads this week, more of the same next week please!

STOP PRESS: Apparently Bone managed to finish his dinner after the game, too bad he couldn’t finish his chances on the pitch! Hard luck Matty, there is always next week!