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Match Report – Tankerton Seniors vs Faversham Strike Force – 29th March 2015
For the first time in 4 months, Tankerton Seniors were to play upon the hallowed turf at Seaview Caravan Park! Their opponents – the only side the Seniors are to play three times this season thanks to their meeting in the Seniors Cup in November. The team in question were Faversham Strike Force; who got the better of Tankerton via a penalty shoot out during that cup clash however failed to turn up during the league match a month later of which the Blues won 5-0.
Today though would prove a very different test for both sides. With winds reaching highs of 126km per hour throughout the afternoon, the two sides would have to contest with the conditions as well as each other.
Tankerton lined up with the following eleven – Crane, Whyte, Agada, Bardrick (C), White, Kupperblatt, Roffe, Dale, Hinchcliffe, Mearns and Radford – with Schild, Todd, Lavender and Clements as the substitutes.
The start of the game would prove fairly even however when it came down to chances being created, Tankerton were dominant. The home side had early chances to take the lead however their perceived reluctance to finish off attacking pieces of play meant a goal would have to wait. Faversham attempted to use the wind in order to trouble Tankerton’s right-hand flank however Crane remained untroubled. A lofted through ball appeared to put through Faversham’s headband wearing number 10 but for a last ditch challenge from Bardrick. Today’s referee showed his qualities in turning a blind eye to the Faversham forward’s ‘overly-dramatic fall’ in response to the challenge. The ‘art’ of diving would become a regular feature during today’s 90 minutes from the visitors.
Tankerton’s clear cut chances were few and far between during the first half. Hinchcliffe put a shot narrowly wide whilst Dale and Kupperblatt both went close from free-kicks. However if there was to be a team of who would take the lead it would have been Tankerton. There were also no prizes as to guessing which Tankerton forward got the opening goal of the game. The prolific Radford slotted the ball into the bottom right hand corner of the Faversham net with approximately 15 minutes on the clock to give the home side the lead.
From then on Strike Force upped the tempo giving them an increased threat going forward even if it meant a greater level of physicality when contesting for the ball. The remainder of the first half conjured a fairly even image in terms of possession and key chances between the sides. The key factor as far as Tankerton were concerned was the fact that they held the lead going into the break.
The second half saw Tankerton’s opportunity to use the increasingly powerful winds to their favour as they attempted to solidify the all-important three points. Radford and Roffe knew they would be in possession of the ball a great deal during the second 45 as a result of the Westerly winds. The opening minutes of the new half produced a similar image to that formed from the later stages of the former. Tankerton continued to control the pace of the game however failed to create any real chances. Strike Force left Crane untroubled for the majority of the first 20 minutes of the half; resulting in the Tankerton keeper with nothing to do but control his defence and attempt to stay warm. As the game prolonged many felt Tankerton were safe with their 1-0 lead as Faversham Strike Force had as of yet posed no real threat to the home side’s back-line. However with 8 minutes of the game to go, all 22 players and, those watching along the touch line, were left in shock.
The ball somehow reached a Strike Force attacker who had found a suspiciously large amount of space behind the Tankerton defence. All involved resided to the fact that this player was offside. Except the referee. With no sign of a flag from the linesman, the attacker was allowed to play on and inevitably slotted the ball into the bottom corner to draw the scores level. Cue ecstatic celebrations from the visitors and sheer anger and amazement from the Tankerton faithful. It was clear to everyone at Seaview that afternoon that the attacker had been at least 10 feet offside. So why hadn’t the linesman flagged? It appeared that at the crucial moment, the second official had collided with a spectator; meaning he was unable to make the call. Faversham had drawn level amidst the most fortunate circumstances you could imagine.
Many a team would crumble as a result of such injustice. Tankerton, however, maintained concentration and began to play again; this time with added composure alongside the added drive. The remaining 5 minutes were all Tankerton as the home side produced chance after chance in search of the goal they so richly deserved. Kupperblatt’s header at the near post came mightily close to doing just that, as did Radford’s effort from the rebound. However the shocks continued to arise during this truly unbelievable finale – this time in favour of the home side.
Mearns collected the ball in midfield just inside the Faversham half, before cutting inside onto his right foot. Without a goal since mid-February and evidently keen to show his qualities, the Tankerton forward unleashed a dangerously curving effort of which was carried into the opposing top corner of the Faversham net. An astounding effort of which had surely guaranteed Tankerton the three points with barely a minute to go. If the Blues have a goal as important and as spectacular within the final 3 games it will be worth the wait. Mearns – surrounded by all those in blue – had secured the win for the home side with his spectacular strike. As the final whistle blew, several sighs of relief could be heard amongst the Tankerton players; alongside the inevitable cries of joy.
Just how important that last minute wonder strike will be to the end of the season standings is unknown. However nobody was questioning its significance at 4pm on Sunday at Seaview Caravan Park. Strike Force would have been mightily fortunate to have come away from this game with a point having barely tested Crane all afternoon. The closest the opposition came to putting up a fight was when the term was taken a little too literally by the visitors via a touch line confrontation during the closing stages. Ultimately, the Seniors could be more than satisfied with a 7th consecutive win in what was a battle against the wind and, for the linesman at least, Lorraine!
A WORD ON THE COLTS – Tankerton Colts had a difficult match up against league leaders Herne Bay Colts in similarly tough conditions in Swalecliffe. Although coming back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 via goals from Swann and Ryan, Tankerton Colts failed to do their fellow Tankerton teammates a favour despite performing gallantly during a resulting 5-2 defeat.