After a five week break from competitive football over the festive season, the Colts found themselves facing a familiar foe for their first game of 2016 today as they took on league leaders BSFC United for the third time in ten weeks. The bitterly cold conditions were not exactly what the boys would have hoped for but despite a frosty morning and a light dusting of snow the night before the game, the playing surface at revised venue Manuden looked immaculate. A large, wide, relatively flat pitch would normally suit the Colts style with their hard work ethic and pace throughout the team but with no substitutes available for us this afternoon and a lack of games in recent weeks, this was never going to be an easy task.
The Colts started strongly and for the first ten minutes we dominated possession and looked the team most likely to open the scoring but when United went forward on their first meaningful attack, a strong challenge from Evan at the heart of the Colts defence was deemed to be late and United were awarded a penalty. Despite Charlie Hill making contact with the ball from the spot kick, you just felt it wasn’t going to be our day as the ball trickled over the line to put United 1-0 up. Both teams battled well all afternoon and the game still looked in the balance when United extended their lead mid way through the first half. With ten minutes of the half remaining, Colts had a chance to pull a goal back when Kyle Smith was brought down as he surged into the home teams penalty area. As he stepped up to take the resulting penalty the Colts players, coaches and parents were probably bracing themselves to cheer a Royston goal as Kyle rarely misses from the spot but the home teams keeper dived the right way to make a good save and keep United’s 2-0 lead in tact. The Colts continued to press and in the final minute of the half we looked sure to score but somehow the United defence managed to scramble the ball away from their own goal line, twice in a matter of seconds. This definitely wasn’t going to be our day!
The second half continued in the same vein as the first with both sides working hard from back to front. Our back four made several crucial challenges and we won a lot of tackles in midfield to set up plenty of attacking moves throughout the game and with Ollie and Ed taking on players down the wings we always looked threatening. Hard work paid off within ten minutes of the restart when Harry set up Ed in the away sides penalty area. Once he got the angle to shoot with his ever reliable left foot, Ed never looked like missing and with a perfectly placed strike into the corner, the Colts were deservedly back in the game.
This match could have quite easily gone either way until the latter stages when after an immense effort from all eleven Colts players, we finally looked like we were running out of steam. The Bishops Stortford coaches were able to rotate their players throughout the game with regular substitutions of four players at a time, a luxury Roy and Andy didn’t have at their disposal this week. A scrappy and somewhat fortunate goal put United 3-1 up with fifteen minutes remaining and the home side extended their lead in the dying moments to finish 4-1 winners.
The coaches were rightly pleased with the boys today and Ed took ‘Man of the Match’ honours for his tireless display and well taken goal. The score line certainly didn’t reflect the Colts exertions on the day and even though our good unbeaten run has come to an end, heads can be held high. There will be easier days in the months ahead and who knows, Lady Luck may even be on OUR side next time!