PITCHING IN ISTHMIAN LEAGUE
SOUTH CENTRAL DIVISION
WEDNESDAY 23rd NOVEMBER 2022
SUTTON COMMON ROVERS 0 UXBRIDGE 2 (HT 0-1)
Two injury-time goals, 45 minutes apart, earnt The Reds a hard fought three points at AFC Whytelafe, the current home of Sutton Common Rovers. The superb FA Trophy victory over Dover Athletic the previous Saturday, came at a cost. Babs Jarra and Mark Bitmead were both missing through injury and Jordan Ireland was unavailable due to illness. Tyler Tobin returned between the sticks, following his honeymoon, in place of Henry Grad, with Gareth Chendlik, Victor Osobu, Andy O’Brien and Alex Witham all returning to the starting eleven. Scott Donnelly and Harry Seabrook dropping to the bench.
The playing surface at Church Road is of the 3G variety, although the high amount of black rubber pellets which adorn these surfaces, meant the appearance of the artificial grass was more of a black tarmac road. Tobin was called into an early save as he got down low to gather a header at the second attempt. Twenty-five minutes later he was called upon to make his second and last save of the encounter, once again getting down low to keep out a shot from the corner of the penalty area. His lack of saves was entirely down to the superb form of the defensive unit in front of him. Special mention must go to Lewis Patrick at left-back and Elliott Poley at the centre of the back-four who have both recently returned to first-team action. At the other end of the pitch Witham and Osobu were involved in the majority of Uxbridge’s best moments and it was these two that combined to give them the lead. With only seconds remaining of the first-half Witham found his team-mate in space on the edge of the box and following some nifty footwork, Osubu let fly with a powerful left-foot shot which struck the outstretched arm of a defender inside the penalty area. Witham repeated his achievement from Saturday by slotting home the penalty with apparent ease. Half-time 0-1.
After a very quiet first half-an-hour of the second period – apart from Witham curling a 30-yard free-kick just wide - Uxbridge suddenly sprung into life and could have added to their tally on numerous occasions in the final fifteen minutes. Chendlik must be wondering how he didn’t add to his Uxbridge account, as his volley from seven yards looped into the keepers arms, in the mode of an old fashioned back-pass. In the 81st minute Josh Andrew sent in a beautiful cross - Patrick stole in at the far-post and saw his header back across goal fly inches wide of the far upright. Three minutes from time, substitute Presley Evans received a pass from Joe Jackson just inside the box, but his low shot lacked the power to beat Endurance Johnson in the Rovers goal. Two minutes later Witham, who was involved in nearly every Uxbridge attack, shot just over from 20-yards. With the game deep into stoppage-time, the home side committed nearly everyone forward in one last effort to find an equaliser. Once again, the defence stood firm and Alan Hedley picked up the loose ball - looked up and played it into the path of Dan Williams. Williams turned and found
two team-mates in attendance and only one defender between him and the goal. Witham was the recipient of the perfectly timed pass; he took two touches and slipped the ball past Johnson into the far corner. Game over. Over the coarse of a season you have games where you have to grind out results and this was certainly one of them. We are only five points away from the play-off places with two games in hand. If we can find some consistency - keep players out of the physio’s room - then the aim of playing Step 3 football next season is certainly not beyond us.
We are on the road again on Saturday as we visit Tooting & Mitcham United in another Pitching In Isthmian League South Central Division game. COYR…
Uxbridge Line-up: Tobin, Andrew, Patrick, Poley, O’Brien, Jackson, Osobu, Hedley, Williams, Chendlik, Witham. Subs: Seabrook for Chendlik, Evans for Osobu, Ofosu for Williams. Not Used: Donnelly & Paris.