First's dig deep to pick up three points
The first team bounced back from defeat away at promotion rival Bedfont Sports, by picking up a hard-fought 2-1 win at Chertsey Town on Saturday.
Goals from Daryl Cooper-Smith and Liam Holden gave the lads the points in a game full of incident.
We started brightly, and good work by Matt Ferdinando saw us force a corner in the opening minute, but the delivery was wasted. We continued to hold the upper hand, but there was very little to get the crowd excited about in the opening ten minutes.
Daryl Cooper-Smith fired wide on the right hand post on eleven minutes, after good link up between Asa Rixon and Ferdinando, and it was Ferdinando who almost latched onto a through ball after keeper Tom Bryant hesitated but was just unable to create a chance.
Chertsey almost took the lead on their first real attack, Dan Price split our backline and Michael Ogbougu raced clear, and was only denied by an excellent save by Michael Eacott. A minute later and Eacott was pulled up for handling a dropkick just outside his area, and from the resultant free kick, Kalan North fired over the bar.
Ferdinando rounded Bryant on 18 minutes after being released by Cooper-Smith, but his effort from a tight angle went off for a goalkick. Two minutes later and Chertsey took the lead. A long clearance by Bryant found Price who in turn released Ogbougu and this time he calmly fired beyond Eacott for 1-0.
North found his way into the book for putting his head towards Matt Tanton, in a decision which would come back to infuriate the SCR management later in the game.
We received our first blow on 26 minutes when Ferdinando went down injured and had to be replaced by Craig Nelon. Cooper-Smith was then denied by a stunning tackle by Joe Blendell as he looked poised to level on 27 minutes.
Price then bought a great save out of Eacott on 37 minutes, and almost immediately Andrew White saw red for a headbutt on Dan Price.
Chertsey looked for the killer second goal, and were almost rewarded on 43 minutes, when Ogbougu looked to get clear, but under pressure from Aaron Bogle and Craig Hasting his shot was comfortable for Eacott, and Jeff Addo-Dankwa was able to clear.
Scores should have been level on the stroke of half time when a ball into the area by Tanton was headed down by Nelson, and fired over by Rixon.
We started brightly in the second half, and Matt Auletta almost fashioned a chance a couple of minutes in, but having weaved passed a couple of players he could only find the side-netting.
Chertsey replaced Jamie Ross with Bekele Mukudi on 48 minutes, and six minutes into the half we made our second change with Addo-Dankwa succumbing to injury and being replaced by Liam Holden.
Hastings found his way into the book on 53 minutes for bringing down Ogbougu and on 56 minutes Eacott did well to save a low shot by Joe Adoo-Peters and back at the other end Cooper-Smith almost created a chance but was crowded out by the Chertsey defence.
On the hour Ogbougu got free again, squared to Mukudi but Nelson got a vital toe in to prevent a simple tap in, and shortly after Ogbougu fired wide when well placed. Joe Jones found his way into the book for a poor foul on Rixon.
Blendell went into the book for a foul on Holden on 65 minutes, and at the other end a poor challenge by Bogle on Mukudi saw him also go into the book. From the free kick, Lewis Taylor drove the ball through the wall but Eacott made another excellent save.
With just over twenty minutes remaining, Darren Salmon rolled the dice, removing Matt Tanton and giving the lively Malachi Thomas his debut. The change paid dividends instantly with Thomas driving into the area, sucking Ben Geraghty into a challenge, and seeing the official point to the spot.
From the kick, Cooper-Smith sent Bryant the wrong way to level up the scores. We now had our tails up and were pushing for the winning goal, but that left us liable to the counter and almost paid a few minutes later when Joel Thompson almost found North but he had timed the run badly and was caught offside.
Cooper-Smith and Thomas linked up on 75 minutes but the final shot by Thomas hit the side-netting. We took the lead on 77 minutes, when a Nelson ball was almost intercepted by Blendell but his deflection took the ball perfectly into the path of Holden, and with the home support screaming for offside, he rounded Bryant to fire home. A minute later and it should have been 3-1, but Cooper-Smith saw his header from an Auletta cross comfortably gathered by Bryant.
Ten minutes from time, and Farrell dallied in possession and only gifted possession to Thompson, he looked for all the world as if he must score, but Bogle appeared from nowhere to make a superb challenge.
Back at the other end and after neat work by Cooper-Smith, Thomas was just unable to divert the ball goalwards. There was still time for one last chance for Chertsey and from Mukudi's low cross, Price somehow turned the ball wide, and we had secured the points.