Hoping to bounce back after the 4-0 loss to Dunsfold the week before, Weysiders Reserves hosted Virginia Water Reserves - a team second in the league with four wins and a draw, and no goals conceded.
A strong Weysiders team was selected, with a formation of 3-5-2 opted to start the match. Aaron Hennessy was in goal, with Gary Martin, Tas Makris and Thom Doggett as the back three. Ryan Sayers, Simon Stacey, Matt Rannie, Tony Ney and Nick Walker made up the midfield and Dave Shilcock and Kevin Barrow were the front two. There was a very strong bench of Dima Minskiy, Bradley Goslin, Liam Cox, Gino Raccuglia and Russell Minns. With two minutes till kick-off, there was no sign of the opposition. Two minutes past the scheduled kick-off, still no opposition. The referee ran off to find them. Five minutes past kick-off time and over the crest of Shalford Park bowled Virginia Water. No rush and seemingly no care for being almost 10 minutes late for kick-off. Perhaps this was a ploy, a well-planned ruse to put Weysiders Reserves off their focus . . . or maybe just a desperate attempt to wait until the last minute to hope some more players turned up - we will never know. The one thing that Weysiders did know was that in five attempts not one team had managed to score against them.
In the first 10 minutes there was a lot of pressure from Virginia Water, Weysiders starting slowly and finding it hard to drum up a rhythm. There was some confusion in midfield and Virginia Water found some space, knocking a ball through the defence. Hennessy made a fine double save and the ball went out for a corner. It was a dangerous one and the ball bounced awkwardly with a goal-bound header being tipped over the bar again by Hennessy. Weysiders dealt with the resulting corner and tried to catch the visitors on the break. A fine kick from Hennessy was well held up by Shilcock who played a ball to Ney who in turn played a ball back to Shilcock, who saw his effort go agonisingly close to the far post with the keeper well beaten. Soon there was another Weysiders attack, Ney getting the ball and going for an audacious left foot shot with the keeper in no-man's land. The kick was not true but spun to Stacey who passed left to Sayers. He cut in and from 30 yards tried to curl it in. A fine save from the keeper kept it at 0-0.
Virginia Water then had a spell of 10 mins solid pressure with Hennessy making three more saves to keep Weysiders in the game. With the defence and midfield being overrun, a change was made, moving to a back four of Martin, Makris, Doggett and Walker. Ney moved to the right wing with Rannie and Stacey in midfield, Sayers remaining on the left. However, soon after a substitution was forced. The lad leading the line for Virginia Water almost took Stacey's head off with a high foot (not called by the referee) and then ran over to Sayers. Sayers won a header from a loose ball, swiftly followed by the head and elbow of Water’s number 5. Sayers went down clutching his head and the referee finally blew up. Sayers sat up and had an immediate black eye. After standing up and feeling dizzy, with blurred vision, Liam Cox replaced him. A bit more pressure and tragedy struck again. Doggett, chasing a ball, pulled up. A glance to the bench and it was sadly afternoon over for Thom. A quick warm-up from Brad Goslin and on he went at right back with Martin and Makris now the two centre backs. A change of Raccuglia for Barrow was also made with the hope of breaking Virginia Water down before the break. This was not possible and the game was 0-0 at half time.
After the half-time team talk from Russ Minns and Phil Ney, a substitution was made with Minskiy replacing Rannie in midfield. This had immediate effect as a pumped-up Minskiy chased the ball down like a man possessed and broke the ball to Valentino who saw a good chance go wide. Some excellent passing from Weysiders saw another opportunity carved out with Shilcock and Raccuglia working brilliantly, with the final shot only just not making the mark. Ney and Goslin then worked the line with a sensual scoop from Ney landing right at the feet of Goslin who ran on, crossing the ball into the box, resulting in a corner. Walker took the corner and, with the keeper running out to nowhere, Tas Makris found himself on the penalty spot unmarked with an open goal. He was never going to miss and at last Weysiders scored against the supposedly impenetrable defence of Virginia Water.
Some pressure from both teams ensued and soon Weysiders had their next casualty. As Brad Goslin made a run and a stretch to get the ball, his groin went and a substitution was forced. Matt Rannie came back on in midfield and Dima Minskiy went to right back. A sustained amount of pressure came from the visitors, but time after time the defence kept them out, with Hennessy producing some further fine saves. Another injury: this time Weysides Reserves left back Nick Walker had damaged his foot and in stepped manager Russell Minns. With five minutes to go, defending the lead was the primary objective. No sooner had he come on than Minns was called into action, smartly jockeying the Virginia Water winger out, tackling fiercely and knocking the ball out for a throw in. The defence again kept a firm line with Makris yet again clearing the ball. For the fifth time there was a foul throw by the Virginia Water right back turned play over to Weysiders. A quick throw-in and another attack with the keeper well off his line gave Raccuglia a chance to try a long-range effort that was again agonisingly close. There was just time for more pressure from Virginia Water and Hennessy made another fine save. The corner was well defended and the referee blew to signal full time.
Despite only winning by one goal, the victory was so much sweeter than the 5-0 win against Shalford. The players could feel it as did the management. Man of the Match was awarded to Aaron Hennessy for not only keeping the team in the game with a succession of fine saves, but also for allowing the team to build up play beginning with his kicks. All in all, a fine day for the Reserves and Weysiders FC as a whole.