Cranbrook 5 Cullompton Reserves 2
The Reserve team put in an improved performance at top of the table Cranbrook, coming back from 2-0 down to make a game of it before Cranbrook’s quality won through.
It was initially looking like a long afternoon after another slow start saw Cranbrook dominate early on, with a considerable pace advantage putting them through on goal seemingly at will. The Cullompton goal led a charmed life with Cranbrook’s immaculate finishing from the earlier game in the season (when they hit 9) deserting them. Aaron went to considerable lengths to protect his goal, at one point even taking the innovative approach of trying to put off their centre forward by launching himself into a diving header at his knee. Aaron has said that I never compliment him in these match reports, so I will make a point of saying that his following goal kick was the best of the match. Unfortunately concussions protocols rule out giving him a smack to the head more often.
Cranbrook’s first goal also led to the end of their early dominance – rather than celebrate the goal more time was invested in abusing the linesman and this loss of discipline slowly spread, allowing Cullompton back into the game but not before a second goal followed the first. The game became scrappy with some reckless challenges becoming the norm, but this allowed Cullompton to pull a goal back before half-time and head into the second half with the wind at their backs and more than a chance.
Breaking with tradition Cullompton started the second half well with a number of half chances and periods of pressure. There was speculation on the sidelines if it’s physically possible for James to shoot without falling over and on the evidence of the day apparently not. After three games without scoring it was starting to look like a single goal was going to be the limit for the day, but from an inswinging corner and possibly a helping defensive touch the ball was in the net and the scores were level.
With momentum at their back Cullompton were possibly favourites to win the game but this lasted less than a minute as Cranbrook went straight through the middle from the centre to pull ahead again. With Cranbrook’s defence tiring the game remained much in the balance until a couple of tired looking defensive lunges led to first a freekick and then a penalty directly after and a comfortable 4-2 lead which Cullompton looked unlikely to recover from. With five minutes left Cranbook made the most of an extra man on a break and a smart left footed finish from the edge of the area gave the score further gloss.
While on balance the best team won this was an improved performance and a solid basis to build on for the relegation battle ahead in the remaining five games.