PITCHING IN ISTHMIAN LEAGUE
SOUTH CENTRAL DIVISION
SATURDAY 18th FEBRUARY 2023
LEATHERHEAD 0 UXBRIDGE 0 (HT 0-0)
This was The Reds first visit to Fetcham Grove, home of Leatherhead, in twenty-two years. Back in 2001 a goal apiece from the Bamford brothers, Stuart and Gavin, saw Uxbridge take all three points in a Ryman League encounter. Saturday’s draw seemed liked another three points gained, having played ninety-three of the ninety-seven minutes with ten men. Mark Bitmead’s late challenge in the 4th minute earning him a straight red card from referee Joe McKay. Uxbridge were forced to make a number of changes from the side that had drawn with Westfield in midweek. David Sota, Luke Paris, Jordan Ireland, Kensley Maloney, and Bitmead returning to the starting eleven in place of Lewis Patrick, Harry Seabrook, Alan Hedley, Marlon Walsh and Alex Witham, respectively.
Following a throw-in near the corner flag, Bitmead felt he was fouled and when a free kick wasn’t awarded, a challenge born out of frustration rather than malice ensued, which in hindsight was ill advised. However, what transpired was a team performance that was full of character and discipline. Too a man the Reds worked their socks off and fully deserved the point gained. It would be wrong to single out any individuals as all thirteen men put in shift. I would imagine the possession stats would favour the Tanners, but chances were kept to a minimum by a superb rear-guard action.
It wasn’t all backs to the wall as Uxbridge were always looking to try and make the most of any chances they could fashion on the break, or from set-pieces. The best of these came late in the second half when substitute Patrick made a fantastic run down the left and the only person able to keep pace was right-back Josh Andrew. If goal keeper Slavomir Huk hadn’t been alert to the situation and anticipated that Andrew was the only possible target, racing from his line to punch the cross away at full stretch, an unlikely but not underserved three points could have returned to Honeycroft.
With twelve games left a possible top half of the table finish is still within the Reds reach. Performances, similar to that witnessed at Fetcham Grove on Saturday will make that ambition more likely.
Uxbridge Line-up: Tobin, Andrew, Sota, Paris, O’Brien, Jackson, Maloney, Ireland, Bitmead, Mendy, Goueth. Subs Used: Patrick for Goueth, Witham for Mendy, Hedley for Ireland. Not Used: Anderson, Evans.