Wood you believe it, late Cooper-Smith header clinches the points
Goals from Matty Auletta and Daryl Cooper-Smith gave the first team a hard-fought 2-1 win over Colliers Wood on Friday night
We opened brightly enough, but the first chance of the game fell to Colliers Wood on three minutes when a shot by Reanu Grossett was deflected behind for a corner, which we cleared. Our first chance on goal came a couple of minutes later, after a high cross by Auletta was turned away for a throw in, from the throw the ball was half cleared and Marlon Rodney fired an effort over the bar.
We continued to hold the upper hand, and on seven minutes, having forced Daniel Hughes into a mistake Auletta dragged an effort across the face of goal and wide of the right hand post, and shortly after Auletta forced Sean Fallon into a comfortable save from just outside the area.
Jake Hill curled a free kick straight at Michael Eacott on eleven minutes, after Craig Hastings had fouled Mario Embalo, and two minutes later William Efambe fired well wide of the left hand post.
Cooper-Smith found his way into the book on 15 minutes for disputing the referees decision, and from the free kick, Colliers keeper launched the ball forward, Owen Davies only half cleared to Marlon Pinder and the Wood man and former SCR fired wide of the right hand post. SCR skipper Aaron Bogle was on the end of a poor challenge by Grossett, which left those in SCR colours bemused as to how the hosts were awarded a throw in.
We took the lead on 22 minutes, Asa Rixon and Theo Woodhouse challenged for the ball just outside the Colliers area, and as the loose ball dropped to Auletta, he fired low beyond Fallon from 25 yards. Colliers were offered a chance to level almost immediately. Excellent work on the left by Pinder saw him link up with Efambe and find Grossett just outside the area. He went down under a Rixon challenge giving Colliers a free kick in a dangerous area. Grossett picked himself up, dusted himself down, but could only fire the free kick high over the bar.
Eacott then saved well from Grossett, and at the other end Matt Ferdinando did superbly to get beyond Hughes, but his low cross was well intercepted by Aaron Goode, who then calmly bought the ball out of the backline, much to the frustration of the SCR bench.
Embalo headed over from a Woodhouse free kick on 33 minutes, and from the goal kick, Eacott found Rodney and his cross was just over Cooper-Smith, with Auletta unable to hook the ball back into play.
Rixon found his way into the book for dissent, having complained over a poor challenge on Matt Tanton that had gone unpunished. We then gifted possession to Woodhouse, and some rushed challenges led to another free kick for the hosts on the edge of the area, which again came to nothing.
The game was swinging from end to end, Auletta won and took a corner which was cleared, then the Colliers Woodhouse and Grossett linked up well, with only a great Rixon block stopping Woodhouse's shot from troubling Eacott.
Ferdinando fired wide of the right hand post on 43 minutes, and we ended the half strongly. A marauding Tanton run was crudely ended by Tyrone Newton who went into the book, from the free kick Hastings could only direct his header over the bar. Half time came with us leading by 1-0.
It was a relatively slow start to the second half, with neither side gaining the upper hand in the opening exchanges. The first clear cut chance came on 55 minutes when Auletta did well on the right to win a corner. From the delivery, Fallon got under the ball, Hastings headed goalwards but saw his header cleared off the line, and Colliers hooked the ball out of the danger zone.
Colliers almost levelled on the hour when a long ball forward wasn't dealt with by Davies, his header dropped to Embalo and his shot caused a slipping Eacott a heart-stopping moment as he managed to shovel the ball wide.
Alberto Lubango replaced Grossett for Colliers on 61 minutes, and we almost struck the following minute. Auletta slipped the ball towards Rodney, but he was just unable to gather and Colliers cleared. Lubango then won a free kick on the edge of our area on 62 which came to nothing.
Darren Salmon made his first change on 65 minutes, with the hardworking Rodney replaced by flying winger Jean-Luc Kinsaba. Efambe saw a shot cleared for a throw in, as Colliers started to turn the screw and look for a way back into the game.
Mohammed Ali Mohammed replaced Newton for Colliers and he immediately linked up with Efambe, but Tanton forced the ball behind for a corner.
The hosts were level with just over fifteen minutes remaining. A rare mistake by skipper Bogle saw him gift possession to Woodhouse, he strode forward and found Mohammed, who in turn played in Efambe, Tanton missed the interception and Efambe crashed the ball beyond Eacott for 1-1.
The game now could go either way, but with Colliers having the momentum you suspected they would be the most likely winners. Two minutes after the leveller and Tanton found his way into the book, as we were under increasing pressure.
There is though now a new found resilience in this SCR side, and with two flying wingers in Auletta and Kinsaba, there is always the possibility of creating a chance. Auletta weaved passed several players and looked to be in on goal, before being pulled back for a free kick, which Ferdinando fired over the Colliers bar.
Gabbidon replaced Rixon on 80 minutes to add a bit more firepower, and the change indirectly had an impact. With an additional man to mark up top, Colliers were light on the left, when Tanton found Kinsaba, he jinked his way to the byline only to see Mohammad Kaddu block behind for a corner. From the Ferdinando delivery, Cooper-Smith thumped a header passed Fallon for 2-1.
Late on and Colliers replaced Kaddu with the lively Ogunseye, whilst we introduced Cousins for Cooper-Smith, but neither substitutes had enough time to get into the game, and we picked up a hard fought three points.