This week, the second week of the season, saw RH123 ‘A’ travel to the Reigate Priory Park for the first ‘A’ team home game of the season. A very strong Priory side lined up, but without a recognised keeper in the ranks. Stu Jones did his team mates and manager a huge favour by volunteering to start the game between the sticks. Lee Wilmot and Ben Jones joined Steve Gardner and David Hall in defence both looking to get 90 minutes under their belts in a bid to return to life in the reserve side.
Aaron Lawrence returned to the side after recovering from a hamstring injury to rejoin Michael Walker in the centre of midfield. Ben Vezza and Peter Jowitt provided the support down the flanks. Sean Doyle and Matt Bone led the attack.
The game started very well for Priory and last week’s horror start was long forgotten as the home side enjoyed the majority of possession. Priory might have found themselves one or two up in the early exchanges if it wasn’t for the keeper making a weak but effective save from Doyle early on and the forwards not finding themselves offside on occasions. B.Jones and Gardner were first to almost every ball from the RH123 midfield cutting them out of the air with cool and calm headers.
Doyle went off with an achillies injury early on, which looks set to side line the striker for a number of weeks, making way for John Braund who filled in at right midfield with Vezza pushing on to support Bone.
Lawrence played what looked to be the ball of the match and what also looked certain to lead to the opener. Bone took the long ball well on the chest, but was unable to hold off the RH123 defenders for long enough to allow the ball to drop. Bone was forced in the end to strike the ball just left of the post.
S.Jones found himself with little to do in the first half, however RH123 did have an effort that crashed into the cross bar after a back pass led to a free kick in the box. The first half finished 0-0.
Priory came out in the second half with intent and with the ambition to capitalise on a tiring RH123 defence. Braund and Bone finally made the pressure count early in the second half after Bone met Braund’s delightful cross from the right hand side. Braund found himself in space on the right having skipped a challenge, looking up he found Bone bursting through a gap in the defence and played the ball to the penalty spot. Bone did the rest, sliding to connect with the ball to steer it passed the on rushing keeper. Priory took a deserved lead.
Jowitt made way for the energetic Paul Hayter who did well to come into the game blocking a couple of goal bound shots and stopping various RH123 attacks down the Priory left hand side.
Priory, in particular Bone, Vezza and Braund, were unable to capitalise on their respective chances and the score remained 1-0 for the large majority of the second half. However, RH123 did scare the Priory players with a looping shot that beat the second half keeper, Dave Hall, hitting the post before being cleared by Wilmot.
Priory looked set to see the game out and were defending very well as a team right from the forward line where Ken Yau had come on for Bone with the aim to harass the RH123 defenders and to not allow them time on the ball, which he did well.
However, the game was soured when the RH123 striker who looked remarkably like a smaller version of the late Rod Hull took a tumble in the Priory penalty area with minutes to spare. The referee, a tad too far from the incident perhaps, pointed to the spot and was too stubborn to change his mind despite seeing the cheeky smile on the striker’s face and his apparent admission that he had in fact taken a tumble. The resultant spot kick was converted and the scores levelled at 1-1.
Priory felt extremely hard done by but didn’t give up. They threw everything at RH123. Resulting in a shot from Vezza who was unlucky with a long range effort which hit the bar. The ball fell to Braund inside the six yard box, however, the midfielder had little time to react and his rushed header was directed straight down and his feet rather than into the back of the net. This proved to be the final chance of the match. The score finished 1-1.
The Priory players will no doubt feel deflated after this week’s result, a very soft penalty ruining what seemed certain to be a convincing win for the side who played very well and who were by far the better side. No doubt the pundits will have a real issue selecting this week’s man of the match as everyone had a cracking game.
More of the same next week will surly gift Priory their first win of the season.