Saturday, 22 July 2017

Crawley Down Gatwick 1 Tunbridge Wells 7

Match 7/17/1457 - Saturday, 22nd July 2017 - Pre-Season Friendly

Crawley Down Gatwick (1) 1 #10
Tunbridge Wells (4) 7 Nwoko 4,27 Ita 9 Beecroft 45+2 Bartlett 57,66 Biddlecombe 73
Headcount: 47
New Ground: 312

Entrance: £5
Programme: None
Mileage: 70/558

Whisper it quietly but it appears that Tunbridge Wells have a decent team in the making. Missing several players that would be considered among first choices they were far too strong for their hosts, Crawley Down Gatwick. Since the opening day of preseason at Wick, they have improved match on match, with the caveat of a lack of knowledge as to the strength of the home side, this was an impressive performance.

The latest returnee to the Tunbridge Wells ranks was Joe Nwoko and he announced his arrival with a lively performance and a brace, the first of which arrived after just four minutes. A ball over the top, which was Crawley Down’s undoing all afternoon sent Jon Pilbeam into the box from where he was bundled over by the advancing goalkeeper. Before the referee had chance to answer the penalty claims the ball ran loose to Nwoko who tapped it into the unguarded net.

Three minutes later, Nwoko set up Stephen Ita to pick his spot into the bottom corner to double the visitors advantage.

It was against the run of play when Crawley Down pulled a goal back after 17 minutes. A ball through the centre split the defence and a hesitant Steve Lawrence allowed the tall striker to get onto the ball and touch it past him.

For a brief period the home side threatened to get back into the game but a fantastic pass from Jake Beecroft sent Nwoko clear to round the goalkeeper for the Wells third goal.

Beecroft is quality and should be playing at a higher level but work commitments have meant that he cannot commit to that level and with Tunbridge Wells training ground just 10 minutes from home, he and the club are a perfect fit. I am convinced, and it doesn't take a footballing Einstein to come to the conclusion, that he will prove to be one of the best players in the SCEFL this season.

Into first half added time and a delight interchange of passes between Beecroft, Pilbeam and Nwoko ended with the former having a tap-in for half-time 4-1 lead.

Rhys Bartlett was introduced as a 55th minute substitute and had an immediate impact on the game. He went on a mazy dribble that with each opponent rounded begged a pass inside to an unmarked Nwoko, but when he went past the last man he deserved his shot for a memorable goal.

The game progressed at this point in a torrential downpour but this didn’t dampen the Wells attacking intentions as a ball over the top from Josh Biddlecombe saw Bartlett lob the advancing goalkeeper for a sixth goal.

After 73 minutes Bartlett returned the compliment when his defence splitting pass found Biddlecombe, whose lob over the keeper went in off the underside of the bar.

This was an emphatic performance without the likes of Scott Whibley, Brad Potter, Tom Davy and Alfie Hall. When he has a full squad available, manager Jason Bourne has, probably for the first time in his tenure, some difficult choices to make. Barely anybody, Beecroft excepted, can expect to see their name automatically pencilled into the team sheet.

All this comes, of course, with the word of warning. This is only preseason.

Crawley Down's Haven Sportsfield is a lovely little football ground with the length of the side opposite the main stand tree-lined. There is a nice seated stand, that proved a blessing in the downpour and a covered standing enclosure behind one of the goals. The pitch was immaculate and there was a large, well appointed, clubhouse.

No comments: