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Badshot Lea 1 Chertsey Town 2
Chertsey Town have made a habit of failing against their main rivals towards the top of the table this season.
But, in completing the double over fourth-placed hosts Badshot Lea, an exception to the rule was established at a bracing Godalming, Lea’s current home ground.
The pitch sits on a plateau which was just about the last place to play football on such a blustery day. The crosswind might have killed the quality of the football but not the desire.
In an otherwise unchanged line up, Simon Cox returned to the centre of the Chertsey defence after a two match absence.
This gave an even more solid heart to the back four as Trevor Charlery, Lloyd Boatang and Ollie Treacher almost entirely blocked out Badshot Lea’s normally vibrant attack.
In fact, it was impossible to detect a weak link throughout the whole squad during the afternoon, such was the confident all round performance from every player.
The first half produced very little in the way of goalmouth action or attractive football with the wind proving to be the dominant force.
The ball should have been kept lower for better effect but kept catching on the wing and too often to end up in the next door training area.
The action was nonetheless tight with Chertsey perhaps just shading possession and, with the twin strike force of Phil Page and Dean Papali, looking the more likely of the two sides to score.
Good use of the elements was used with raking passes to Tom O’Regan on the left with the ball holding up against the breeze for collection.
Dangerous looking crosses were delivered but none produced a clear chance. Lea worked hard in the midfield but looked more benign in determined attack. Both sides relied on free kicks to create most danger but none managed to give heart stopping moments.
Badshot Lea took the lead however, coming off a rare of lack purpose moment in the Chertsey defence. Possession on the halfway line when going forward was suddenly converted to Badshot Lea pressure as the ball was played back.
A partial retrieval of the situation was neutralised but then possession was lost, leading to the ball being fed through to Marcus Cousins who beat Marcus Moody’s last gasp challenge as he fired past Craig Bradshaw in goal from eight yards, with suggestions of offside being waved away.
The 43rd minute lead was maintained for a further 18 minutes of play. The pattern of the first half was little changed after the break except that Chertsey looked far more likely to score than the home side who eventually were restricted to one break through.
A goal looked likely until Bradshaw spread out to block the way.
Dan Bennett had a quiet first half but came into his own in the second. It was his persistence and tenacity that forced a way through to the Badshot Lea goal line.
Although surrounded by three defenders, he screwed the ball back for O’Regan to ram it home from seven yards, giving Liam Stone in goal no chance. The move was initialised by the ever improving Laike Saku who also put his stamp on the game.
Bennett came close soon after, going a foot wide from 25 yards after dispossessing a claret shirt. But he again turned provider when collecting the ball from Saku ten yards inside his own half.
From there, he delivered a 30 yard through ball to Page for the number nine to slip past both full back and goalkeeper and plant it into a wide inviting net. The 76th minute strike proved to be the winner.
A one goal lead in such a vital scrap will always create the jitters but Town rode out the final 14 minutes with relative comfort, before taking the extra six minutes of time added on, conjured from who knows where, into their stride.
They even managed to almost increase their score when Papali and Moody both forced Stone into saves.
Chertsey may still have a hard task of catching up in front of them if they are to take the championship but the result surely must have blown away Badshot Lea’s rivalry for the same goal.
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