Reserves rally in ten goal thriller
By Gary Brigden
The Reserves staged a stunning comeback on Saturday to turn a three goal deficit into a comfortable 7-3 win.
If ever a goal changed the nature of the game then it was Aliba Matondo-Lando's strike on the stroke of half time that saw us go in 3-1 down and with hope, rather than 3-0 down.
We fell behind in the opening minute, when a loopy effort drifted over Brandon Farley for 1-0. Ripley were totally dominant in the opening exchanges, and had several chances to increase their lead, before the eventually did. First up a low fizzed free kick was deflected wide of the left hand post and shortly after a long range effort went just over Farley's crossbar.
We gradually came back into the game, and Attakpah rose highest but his header went agonisingly wide of the left hand post, and it was the visitors who struck next, on 2-0 on 20 minutes. George Baker went close for Rovers bringing a good save out of the Ripley keeper, and as they broke, a long ball to the right saw both Farley and Manny Attakpah shut the ball down, but the Ripley forward was just able to poke the ball beyond the pair of them for number two.
Ripley looked to have sealed the game on 26 minutes, a long clearance by the keeper was flicked back by Humphrey Agho, leading to Farley and Michael Debrah getting in a muddle, allowing the forward a tap in to an empty net.
On the half hour good work by Kane Oram found Baker, and his deep cross reached the flying Matondo-Lando but his header went just wide of the left hand post. Five minutes from the break and Luke Guest went close, beating his man, rolling the ball under the keeper only for the centre back to get back and clear.
However we snatched an all important goal on the stroke of half time, Luke Guest, Humphrey Agho and Baker combined well to set up Matondo-Lando, and he crashed his effort beyond the keeper.
It was game on in the opening minute of the second half, and Matondo-Lando was on hand to bring us back into the game, taking advantage of defensive frailties, and almost immediately a low Guest strike hit the post.
We continued to dominate and were rewarded with an equaliser on 56 minutes. The rampaging Agho won possession in the middle of the park, beat a man and set up Baker who fired beyond the keeper for 3-3.
We made our second change just shy of the hour, Jerome Eyoma having already replaced Ryan Steadman-Hoyte (playing his second game in under 24 hours) at half time, when Stephen Gbopo came on for his debut in place of Matondo-Lando.
The turnaround was complete on 63 minutes when a long ball forward by Farley was bravely headed home by Baker as the keeper advanced. Two minutes later and a flying Guest was hauled down around the Ripley area. Initially a penalty was awarded, but on inspecting the mark this was changed to a free kick. It mattered not, Guest's dipping strike was well saved by the keeper, but skipper Finlay Carney was on hand to poke the loose ball home for 5-3.
We were rampant now, and on 70 minutes it was 6-3 as Baker struck for his hat-trick. A long throw by Eyoma found Carney, his shot was really well saved by the keeper, but Baker was on hand to force home the loose ball.
With just over fifteen minutes remaining, Daniel Boateng replaced Carney. Ripley to their credit continued to try and get back into the game, and after Attakpah was adjudged to have handled just outside the area, a low free kick bought an excellent save out of Farley down to his left.
Guest did brilliantly on 80 minutes to weave passed a couple of defenders, bringing yet another good save out of the keeper, but the loose ball was only half cleared, and from Oram's cross shot, Gbopo tapped home. Guest found his way into the book on 85 minutes for a foul, but nothing could take the gloss off an excellent recovery from the lads.