No New Year Joy for Blues
Lacklustre Blues well beaten by Staines Town Writes The Mariner.
This game was very much a case of after the Lord Mayors Show as Blues failed to reproduce the form and fighting spirit which brought them a well deserved win just 48 hours earlier at Folkestone.That they only conceded three goals was down to a MOM performance from keeper Amadou Tangara who denied Staines with a series of stunning saves to keep the scoreline down to a respectable level.
Manager Jamie Stuart was forced to make one change from Saturday's starting eleven with Jordan Aghatse coming in for the injured Ryan Mahal at right back.
The opening minutes saw Blues create a chance when Lheureux Menga fed Kwabene Osei he produced a searching diagonal ball into the home 18 yard box just failing to find Bishop.The move was to be a rare foray into the Staines half as the home side started to play with pace and purpose using the full width of the pitch with winger Barrat seeing plenty of the ball although he was guilty of poor delivery into the Blues area .
The Blues midfield were guilty of standing off their opponents allowing Staines to dictate proceedings,when the Blues did gain possession the ball was given away cheaply. Nathan Campbell who had been so impressive at Folkestone was guilty of careless play when he gave the ball away to the pacy Bettamer who sent in a testing cross deflected for a corner.It was a portent of things to come when Barrat capitalised on another error moving forward at pace he forced Tangara to make what was to become one of many outstanding saves.
That the Blues goal remained intact was only down to Tangara and the home side's inability to convert their numerous chances but they finally made the breakthrough in the 21st minute and it was a goal that summed up Blues dismal opening period.A speculative ball was played in just outside the Blues box there appeared to be no real danger but with Blues players seemingly rooted to the spot Ahmidi had time to pick his spot and drill the ball past Tangara's despairing dive.
Staines continued to lay siege to the Blues goal cutting through them like a knife through butter,Tangara came to the rescue again making a double block from Bettamer and Barrat and then a superb one handed save from Brown's goal bound effort.
Turner in the home goal was a virtual spectator as Blues failed to mount any meaningful attacks,Bishop suffering from a heavy cold and playing as a wide man was starved of any adequate service resorting to chasing down overhit passes or closing down the home defenders.
The half time whistle brought to and end a traumatic 45 minutes for the visitors Staines must have been wondering how they
were only one goal to the good given their total domination.
Blues won a rare corner minutes after the break from the kick Osei saw his header saved by Turner but after that the game followed the same pattern as the opening half.
Staines once again took control of midfield seeming to have even more time on the ball as they stretched the Blues back four of which Luke Wilson was working overtime to stem the tide.Just 11 minutes into the half Staines increased their lead from the penalty spot when Bettamer was pulled down,Blues fans were hoping Tangara would continue his record of penalty saves but he was give no chance when Bettamer rifled the ball past him.
The goal seemed to stir Blues from their stupor as they at last started to play with some urgency,Etienne Kababola replacing Harry Watkins began to test the Staines defenders, for once good build up saw him in on goal forcing Turner into a rare save.
The Blues revival was short lived however as once again the home side upped the tempo,Tangara prevented what looked like a third goal when he bravely saved at the feet of the advancing Coker injuring himself in the process but after some lengthy treatment he was able to continue.
Staines added a third in the 80th minute when a fierce free kick cannoned off the post Coker reacted quickly lashing the rebound
into the net.With the game now lost Blues did have a couple of chances in the dying minutes,Turner saving Kababola's shot and then diving to his left to keep out a Menga header from sub Luke Hornsley's cross.
So a very disappointing result and display however three points from two difficult away games is in retrospect a good return and with other results going the their way Blues are still in the mix. The next two home games agaist mid table opposition take on added importance six points will be the target and hopefully put pressure on the teams above.
Worthing will be first up at Mill Field on Saturday ko 3pm