Virginia Water 2-1 Reigate Priory FC – 08/04/2017
On a bright day at the Stag Meadow, Priory’s hopes of a third consecutive win were dashed but by no means was this a clear-cut victory for the title hopefuls Virginia Water who almost found themselves on the end of an upset on what was Priory’s concluding fixture for this season.
Despite the absence of a number of Priory’s regular centre-halves, Smythe & Wyatt decided to stick to the 3-4-3 formation that aided the turnaround in form this season. The ever-present Scott Johnson was asked to fulfil an unfamiliar role as a left centre back whilst Fil Soares came in at left wing back.
The game started slowly with both teams trying to settle into the game but the breakthrough came for the Waters after 10 minutes when Adam Mcnamara finished exquisitely on the half volley into the top left corner after right back Josh Hill had time to find the pass behind the left side of the Priory defence.
It was the Waters’ number 7 Daniel Whatford who was causing problems for Priory in the first 20 minutes whose off the ball movement was causing some confusion amongst the Priory ranks. Whilst the in-form Priory centre half Dave James was doing tremendously well at keeping Ryan Curtis quiet, it wasn’t long after the 20 minute mark when he managed to find a little bit of space about 30 yards out to crash a left-footed thunderbolt against the Priory crossbar.
It certainly wasn’t all one way traffic though as Priory grew into the game, pressed higher up and began to ask questions of the Waters defence who before this game had only conceded 1 goal in 6 games! Wing backs Soares and Walker pressed higher up and started finding spaces in the wide areas with Soares in particular producing some testing crosses. A cute flick on the outside of the left boot of Jason Woolsey split the Waters defence and saw Luke Reid get in behind, only for the spin of the ball to take him wide right of the goal and he wasn’t able to keep his first time strike under the crossbar.
Captain Winnisters high energy assisted by the disciplined James Bolton in centre midfield was helping to transfer Priory’s attack to defence and it was him that set away Woolsey who turned and produced a clean strike from 25 yards which a lot of people thought was in including Woolsey himself but it whistled safely past the wrong side of the left post.
The half ended Virginia Water 1-0 Reigate Priory.
With no changes at half time, the second half started brightly with the hosts winning an early corner. The ball appeared to be controlled with an arm at the far post by a Waters player and with the ball pinging around the Priory box unable to clear, it bounced up and struck the arm of the unsuspecting Winnister which referee Childs deemed to be worthy of a penalty much to the fury of the Priory team and bench. On 49 minutes J. Hill stepped up to calmly give his side a 2 goal cushion. Virginia Water 2-0 Reigate Priory.
A determined Priory fought back and the back line once again were in control, with the Waters who owned a lot of possession not posing a threat to Priory stopper Mark Halseys goal after the penalty. Priory were looking increasingly dangerous of the counter-attack and the Priory goal came from a nice move which started with Woolsey holding the ball, laying it off to Soares who picked the run off Winnister who with the deftest of touches used the pace of the pass the slip through Reid for 2-1.
Cecil Thomas who was wide right for the majority of the game came inside more in the 2nd half and stated to influence the game more with some nice touches and inter-play. It was the inter-play with substitute Arnold Saurombe that created Priory’s best chance of an equaliser as a one-two set Thomas away down the right who cut in along the by-line but couldn’t quite find the angle to provide Saurombe with a tap in as it was stopped at the near post by Waters stopper Matt Jones.
Full time Virginia Water 2-1 Reigate Priory.
Priory will feel aggrieved that they didn’t pick up a point this game whilst Virginia Water held on to the all-important 3 points to continue their pursuit of Tooting Bec who remain 4 points clear at the top but having played 2 games more. For Priory, it was a performance to be proud of having endured a difficult season but finishing strongly with recent wins against Laleham and Yateley as well as a strong showing today against a top side will provide a much needed confidence boost moving into next season.
Reigate Priory Team:
1 Mark Halsey
2 Michael Walker
3 Filipe Soares
4 David James
5 Mario Prom
6 Scott Johnson
7 Cecil Thomas
8 Michael Winnister (C)
9 James Bolton
10 Luke Reid 62′
11 Jason Woolsey (64′ Arnold Saurombe)
12 Arnold Saurombe (64’ Jason Woolsey)
14 Ben Smythe
15 Dale Wyatt
Manager: Dale Wyatt & Ben Smythe