Priory travelled to Sutton this week for the reverse of the 6-2 home win over Overton Athletic on the second day of the season. Priory were confident of picking up something from the game given Overton’s recent poor run of results and the strength of the side they put out. Luckily there was no reserve team fixture this week so replacements were readily available for the raft of missing A team players. Had the referee turned up for the match, the game might have got under way on time, however, this wasn’t to be. The game finally got under way with one of the Overton subs foregoing his place on the bench to officiate the game.
Priory decided to stick with the 4-5-1 system that had served them well in recent weeks with 5 points collected from the last 9 available. Marc Connolly maintained his place in goal with Steve Gardner and Dave Hall at centre half. Tim Austin looked to continue his decent run of performances at left back. Si Davis came into the side at right back for the absent Lee Wilmot. Aaron Lawrence returned to the side to provide support for the midfield and defence in place of Gilo, Peter Jowitt lined up in front of Aaron alongside Herby who was making his first A team appearance for 3 weeks. Ben Vezza was switched out to the right hand side in the absence of Martin Baxter and Wes Green returned to the side in the left midfield role. Sean Doyle again was the loan striker. John Braund, Matt Penn and Danny Roberts made up the bench.
Again Priory started the better team in the match and moved the ball around the pitch with ease, creating the a host of half chances. Doyle went close with a volley at the back post after a deft touch from a Lawrence free kick, Jowitt continued to test the keeper, as he always does, from outside the area and even Si Davis managed to get forward to try and bend one into the top corner, but it was Overton who stuck first blood in the contest. After another sweeping passage of play from Priory a route one thump up the field from the Overton keeper exposed the back four. Overton were able to sweep the play from left to right in a matter of seconds giving Priory little time to react. The ball was rolled back towards the middle of the area were an Overton player strolled up to place the ball into the net, unopposed. Priory could have done with being tighter to their men in the build up to this goal and the tracking of runners had to be improved. Very much against the run of play Priory were behind in a game that they had controlled. A decent response was needed.
Priory did respond to the opening goal and continued to press. Wes Green continued to play near perfect balls into the box and Herby found his way through the melee in the centre of the park with his winding runs. Lawrence tested the keeper with a couple of shots from outside the box and Doyle forced an excellent save from the keeper down to his left hand side that looked to be creeping in, but the team were unable to find the equaliser that they deserved. The first half finished 1-0 to the home side and Priory went off the field feeling hard done by as their dominance had failed to yield the goal that was deserved.
The second half started ok for the Priory but again, they were unable to find the net. Hopes of getting back in the game early in the second half were almost dashed by a Overton free kick. The ball was met at the back post only for the cross bar to come to the rescue. This was a huge let off for Priory who wouldn’t have deserved to go 2 down. However, this seemed to be the turning point and the game began to turn against the away side. Lapses in concentration at the back and rushed play on the attack cost Priory possession and ground. Priory found themselves dealing with a number of route one long balls played into channels by the Overton back line. Having not learned from the earlier goal scare, Priory finally found themselves 2 down to a headed goal, the striker rising like a salmon on his own in the box caused the damage and doubled the home side’s lead.
The pressure from this point on was relentless. The man advantage in midfield wasn’t providing the cover that the back four needed in order to consolidate, regroup and focus on the job of getting back in the game. This left huge gaps in the middle of the park for Overton to exploit. The defence found themselves out of position on a regular basis as they looked to fill the gaps that were appearing all over. This gave Overton the opportunity to open up the Priory defence for two simple tap ins which came after a nasty deflected goal leaving Connolly stranded.
The game finished 5-0 to Overton. The Priory players will be desperate to forget this week’s performance, their worst result since the opening day and their worst performance of the season to date, before the Kingswood Falcons game next week. Priory seem to have missed out on the opportunity to jump to third in the league, but still have the game in hand over AFC Horley who they could leap frog with a decent result at the weekend. With AFC Horley the final opponents of the calendar year, the week before Christmas, Priory will be searching for a quick response to this week’s poor performance.