A confident Weysiders reserve team made the trip to Farncombe on Saturday wanting to show that games could be won away from Shalford Park. Again (and I will not tire from saying this), a strong squad was selected. With options both on the pitch and the bench the Reserves were in good spirits. A starting line-up of Aaron Hennessy in goal, a back four of Dmitry Minskiy, Tas Makris, Thom Doggett and Nick Walker was selected. The midfield was made up of captain Simon Stacey and Chris Murch, with Kevin Wielocha and Ryan Sayers on the wings. Dave Shilcock again started, still searching for his first Weysiders goal with Tony Ney playing off him up top.
It was a cold October afternoon (more of that to come) and after a team talk in the dressing room, the Reserves took to the pitch for a warm-up focused on the task ahead. Farncombe started with the kick-off and Weysiders started pressing. Some lovely play from Stacey and a crisp pass found Shilcock who played a smart one-two with Ney whose shot was a first warning for the home team going just wide. The resulting kick was won in the middle and played to Wielocha on the right. An overlapping run from Minskiy and the ball was played out wide. The control and perfectly weighted ball from the powerful Russian found Ney. It was not dealt with by the defence, and, running in at the back was Sayers who controlled the ball and knocked the ball into back of the net. Two in two for the young flying winger and Weysiders were up 1-0 after just four minutes.
From the restart Farncombe looked to respond with a ball played through. The flag went up for offside. The free-kick was pumped up the pitch and Shilcock turned and shot just wide. The kick from the Farncombe keeper allowed a break and a ball was played through. The striker, although seeming to beat the defence, was offside again. The ball was lost from the free-kick but Fanrcomeb gave away a thorow-in. This was disputed by the player and abuse from the sideline resulted in a swift sending off of the Farncombe assistant manager after only ten minutes of play.
Farncombe were desperate to equalise and probably should have with wave after wave of attacks, with Hennessy making some fine saves. Minskiy was pressured and had two men attacking each time on the right, with more poor finishing and a save dropped by Hennessy cleared by Minsky unknowingly kicking by Weysiders stopper in the ankle. There was a short stoppage in play while Hennessy received some treatment. He was alright to carry on and kicked the ball long, the header being won by Ney who flicked on to Shilcock, who held it up well. He then turned with a shout of "keep him on his left foot, he ain't got a left foot" from the Farncombe defender (make of that what you will) and Shilcock saw an opening and hit it with his RIGHT. The shot was low and took a bounce in front of the keeper and, despite his efforts, went into the bottom corner of the goal. At last new guy Dave Shilcock had his goal and a well-deserved one at that. Weysiders were 2-0 up after 31 minutes.
With that, a change was made with Liam Cox coming on to replace Wielocha who was making huge steps to being match fit after some weeks off with illness. Off he came and off came his shirt. No under armour, no … under his shirt was a jumper … under the jumper a t-shirt … under the t-shirt a vest … laughter from the bench! Matt Rannie, at this time also preparing to come on, ribbed the young winger for his many layers! With Cox on Weysiders were under still more pressure with two again attacking the right side. Another change was made. This time Chris Murch was brought off after a week of illness and Rannie went on. The battle in the middle continued and Stacey managed to collect a loose ball and play it through. The shot was blocked and the ball bounced high. Rannie went for it as did the Farncombe player and a clash of heads was the result. Both Rannie and the Farncombe player went down. Rannie sat up and the opposition player did not. A crowd gathered around the incident and it was soon clear that the Farncombe player was in trouble. Blood was pouring from a sizeable gash just above his eye and with the Farncombe players having no clue what to do, Tony Ney stepped in offering emergency treatment. With the finger plasters offered that were not fit to stop the bleeding, Ney thought on his feet and asked them for a gauze. This they had and a make shift bandage was formed. All the while the Farncombe players and staff offered little to no help in assisting. Eventually he was patched up and off he went to A&E. The game continued and Weysiders had another opportunity that went wide and an immediate response from Farncombe was cleared and, after eight minutes of added time, the referee blew up. 2-0 to Weysiders at the break.
A half-time team talk from Russ Minns and Phil Ney highlighted where the team was going wrong and, despite a lead, Weysiders could easily have been drawing. A change was made and Jack Gamble made his return after seven weeks out with injury, replacing Minskiy at right back.
The game kicked off again and it didn't take long for Gamble to make his presence known. A loose ball and he made a challenge, and a dangerous one at that. The referee blew up and, after calling over the "skipper", let Gamble off with a warning as he had only just joined the action. There followed some pressure from the opposition and another fine save from Hennessy. At last Weysiders broke and Walker played a ball in the channel. It bounced and was not dealt with. It was collected by Rannie who played to Cox who showed a bit of skill and threaded it to Shilcock. A one-two with Rannie on the edge of the box saw the opportunity escape and the attack turn to nothing. With not even a blink of the eye Weysiders were on the attack again, this time Shilcock playing a great ball through to Ney who beat the offside and was left with a one on one with the keeper. A hard struck shot was closed down well by the keeper as he charged it down. He kicked clear and at the other end the ball was hit high and wide. Hennessy decided that this was the perfect time to adopt selective hearing and sauntered after the ball in no real hurry. Farncombe were shouting for a new ball to be used, but it didn't wash with the Weysiders stopper and after the ball he went. A perfect time for a substitution. Sayers took a breather and came off the pitch to be replaced by Wielocha. Again the management and players on the bench were amused. As Sayers came off, so did his shirt. Under armour, no … a jacket yes … we all dread to think what will happen when it is actually cold … ski jackets? We will find out soon enough! Murch also returned to the action (wearing just a shirt) and replaced the hard working and getting-back-to-match-fitness Cox.
Within minutes of this, Weysiders won a free-kick in an almost identical place to last week: on the left of the defence on the half-way line. Walker picked up the ball and, in an almost carbon copy of the fourth goal against Camberley, spotted the run from Rannie at the back post. The cross-field ball was perfect but as the ball fell a toe got in the way and took it away from the predatory Rannie. The ball went off for a throw which was taken and Shilcock again played in Ney for a one on one. This time, with the keeper reacting quickly, Tony went for the lob. The ball went just over the bar and was another good chance missed. There was no time to rest as the goal kick was taken and Walker won the ball in the air and played it down the line. An awkward bounce and the Farncombe right back made a dog's dinner out of it. Young Wielocha saw this as his opportunity and stretched out a leg bringing the ball down and beating two men. Shilcock called for it to be cut back, but Wielocha had other ideas and, seeing the run in the box from Ney, squared the ball and this time Ney could not miss from four yards out. A well-worked goal and at last Weysiders scored the third and potentially match-winning goal.
After all the hard work, medical assistance given and chances, it was the least that Ney deserved. Farncombe didn't offer much after this and Weysiders became the dominant force. Walker was injured and made way for Russell Minns at left back, Simon Stacey - captain fantastic - came off the field for Minskiy. A mazy run from Makris from centre-back saw him end up in the opposition corner and he was brought down. With very little time left on the clock, he took the free kick lofting a lovely ball towards the front post. Ney had beaten the offside yet again and the ball struck his head. The angled header went wide when it surely must have gone in before the final whistle sounded. The Farncombe defender informed Ney that the miss was embarrassing (and yes, it really should have gone in), but Weysiders Reserves had won another game and, despite not playing at their best, had secured the three points, scored three goals and conceded none.
The win puts Weysiders up to third in the league only behind on goal difference. A tough game awaits next Saturday against league leaders Elstead away from home, but right now I wouldn't bet against Weysiders turning up, competing and getting another fine result. The man of the match was a hard call but with his ever-commanding display and leadership throughout the match Simon Stacey lived up to the armband he wore in a great away result.