After an international break the Priory A team returned to action for their fourth league game of the season. Kingswood Falcons were the visitors this week who were sitting pretty, second in the table and with 10 points from 5 games. Priory knew that nothing but a repeat performance of their 6-2 demolition of Overton Athletic would do.
This week saw a number of changes with four reserve team players joining the side. Regulars Ben Jones and Steve Gardner lined up in the centre of defence alongside Stu Jones and Tom. Gus Milne came into the side as he looked to continue his rise back to his old reserve team spot. Walker continued in the midfield partnered with the young reserve team play maker. Jowitt and Lawrence were wide. Matt Bone and Ben Vezza maintained their attacking roles following their excellent display last time out in which Vezza scooped the man of the match award. Martin Baxter, Dave Hall and Dave Williams made up the bench.
The game started well for Priory with some good early opportunities created. Lawrence made the full backs work with his pace linking well with Tom and both centre midfielders. Both Vezza and Bone were full of energy as normal and piled on the pressure early on. Perhaps the best opportunity of the half fell to Bone whose snatch shot was pulled just wide of the post. However Priory didn’t make the early pressure count and yet again found themselves behind for the second week running, against the run of play. Thirty minutes into the first half the Falcons worked their first real opportunity attacking down the left hand side, the resulting cross was deflected by the Priory defence only to fall kindly for the Falcon’s midfielder on the edge of the box. Priory weren’t quick enough to react to the danger on the edge of the box and the Falcon’s midfielder had ample time to pick out the bottom right hand corner of the goal beating Gus at full stretch.
Priory were unable to get themselves back into the game and the first half finished 0-1.
Some encouragement was given at half time to a few players who found themselves rushing on the ball and Priory went back out fully confident and expecting to get back into the game that they had controlled for most of the first half.
However the game remained a stalemate for the first fifteen minutes of the second half until Vezza made way for Dave Williams, a straight swap up front. Williams continued Vezza’s good work up front harassing the Falcon’s back four. Williams made himself useful within a few minutes of coming on by latching onto a delightful ball between defenders from the newly introduced Dave Hall who had replaced Stu Jones. Jones was forced from the field of play with a pulled left arse check muscle. The team mascot, physio and boot boy Will Harries was unable to ease Jones’ pain and the magic sponge didn’t help either leading the way for Hall to slot straight into the left back spot and pick up his first assist of the season. Williams picked up the ball from Hall inside the box but not further than two yard from the by-line and managed to pound the ball into the roof of the net beating the keeper at the tightest, most impossible angle. Priory had got back into the game with the scores levelled at 1-1.
There were to be three more goals in the game, but the next two were shrouded in controversy. The Falcons retook the lead after they managed to capitalise on a long ball counter attack. The route one ball set the striker off on a one-on-one with Milne who up to this point had had a fairly quiet game with only the simplest of shots to pluck out of the air. Milne came to Priory’s rescue stopping the initial shot with his feet, however the ball looped up and the supporting striker was able to win a header in the box unopposed teeing up the right midfielder, who seemed to have come from an offside position, for a simple tap in at the far post. Priory were behind again. However, they had far from finished and Steve Gardner provided the ball the set Bone off into the box for Priory’s own one-on-one chance moments after the restart. Every Falcons player stopped as Gardner played the ball into Bone as their linesman raised the flag for offside, unaware that the flag had been raised and that the referee had over ruled the linesman, Bone calmly lifted the ball over the onrushing keeper and the ball found its way into the net. Bone’s celebrations were cut momentarily short as the referee failed to articulate his decision with any conviction given the instant bombardment of verbal abuse and arm flailing from the Falcon players. Priory’s own players were unsure of the decision and Bone slowly toned down his celebration in anticipation of a change of heart from the referee. However the referee was intent on giving the goal and the Priory players finally celebrated the great finish from Bone, his third of the season.
Priory now had their hearts set on all three points and took advantage of the frustrated Falcons play. It was that man Bone again who won it for the Priory. Ben Jones having won a tackle at the back found himself with a lot of space to run into in the centre of the park. At about thirty yard out he dinked a ball over the top of the Falcon’s defence into the path of Bone for him to complete his brace with an almost carbon copy of his first, looping the ball over the keeper into the far corner. Priory had taken a well earned lead for the first time in a game that they came from behind twice.
They managed to defend hard to keep the Falcons out. Milne did his part in the sticks stopping another one-on-one chance and the forwards and midfielders did theirs by closing down every player with the ball as the Falcons advanced looking for the equaliser. However the Falcons were unable to score and the game finished 3-2 to the Priory.
In all a superb performance from the Priory and a well earned three points.
Priory’s league campaign will be on hold for the next two weeks as the cup competitions begin, the Kingston based Lower Green await Priory in the Surrey Lower Junior Cup first round next week and an away trip to the division two side Godstone lies ahead in the second round of the League Cup.