The reserves season has so far been very successful, unbeaten in the league and numerous clean sheets and after last week’s rest and losing in the cup the week before that it was time to keep the league form going and beat a team they had narrowly beat earlier in the season.
With two late call ups Priory were down to the bare 11, a strong 11 but still we all knew it was going to be a tough match. The Ressies lined up with Colin in goal, Mike RB, Tom G LB, Dave Mc and Nick CB, Aaron and Tom B CM, Wes RM, Dave W LM and Matt K and Pete Stone STR who was protecting a weak ankle.
The game started with a huge amount of Coulsdon pressure but the resilience of the Priory team gave the Coulsdon team no time to settle and was first to nearly every 50/50. Once the first 10 minutes had been played Priory began to get familiar with their positions and jobs for the match and started getting into the game.
Once the pre match gitters had gone Priory realised this was a match for the taking. The players were winning most of their 50/50’s and the defence with Colin behind were compact and giving the opposition no opportunities to take the lead. Once Priory got the ball it was clear they wanted to keep it and the possession football being played and the building of play up the pitch showed why Reigate Priory had this superb unbeaten run and tight defence.
Priory took the lead in the 25 minute after pressing Coulsdon high up the pitch, the ball was blocked just inside the Coulsdon area and Dave Williams, like all good goal scorers do picked up the loose ball beat a defender and struck it with venom into the near bottom corner, The pace of the strike meant that the keeper got a hand to it but could not keep it out.
The energy and effort from the Priory players continued throughout the half and even when Coulsdon were in good goal scoring areas there were excellent interceptions from every member of the back line or top saves from Colin stopped them getting back into it. The whole team had done more running and battled more than before and deserved the lead at half time.
The team talk was pretty much ‘Superb effort guys, now more of the same!’ and that is how the second half was fought. Coulsdon upped their work rate for the first 15 minutes and one of the Coulsdon subs did break away from the priory defence but again the solid GK Colin stood up and made himself big and saved an excellent opportunity. Priory continued to want the ball, again the possession side of Priory’s play was strong, Priory continued to look like scoring and Pete Stone carved a number of 1 on 1 opportunities which on any other day could had lead to a couple of goals.
At around the 60th minute the Coulsdon side began to tire and Priory’s dedication and efforts did not change, even when they brought on fresh legs Priory managed the changes well. Even Tom Buckley who had not played for 5 months was sprinting 40 yards to close down the opposition this late into the game. Matt Keeling was also on top form in this game, always pressuring the back line to make mistakes and making a huge nuisance of himself. When your captain is showing a work ethic like that it spreads quickly throughout the team.
Priory continued to defend solidly with Aaron winning numerous tackles in the midfield, but when the Coulsdon team did break through the Priory defence did not look like being breached, they were fantastic throughout the match.
The match came to a close with Priory winning 1-0, a victory they thoroughly deserved and had earned the hard way. Every player walked off that pitch proud of their close win and knowing that we are 1 win away from being upbeaten into the New Year.
Priory reserves now sit top of the Surrey Elite reserve league 2 points clear with a game or 2 in hand. If the work ethic of this match continues then this run will continue no doubt.