3 Points at East Preston

Report by Alan Burgess
East Preston (0) 0 v 1 (1) Godalming – Southern Combination
A Happy New Year to all our readers and what better way to celebrate than with three away points in what was the first game of 2023 following the postponement at Oakwood earlier in the week. East Preston were one of the few teams to host a game on the 2nd so all eyes were on the weather forecasts to see if this game would be on too. It was, but none of the forecasts predicted the downpour that hit at 4.00pm which really made it a game of two halves.
My first visit to East Preston and as far as I am aware the Clubs also, and the only new ground this time out after a whole last season of new ‘adventures’ last. What was familiar to the 20+ travelling Godalming fans was our line up with Alfie Mickley in goal, Skipper Luke Beale, James Colinese and Ollie McAleese in front of him. Connor Blanchard and Matt Cox filled the wider positions on the right and left respectively. James Mariner sat in front of the back three with Kurt Greenaway and Liam Avery across the middle. Jason Cotton and Tom White completed the starting 11 up front. Rikkie Letch and Danny Mills were on the bench. Joining them was Sam Boultwood, just returned he told us from a romantic holiday in New York, Aah! Two management changes to record, a warm welcome to new coach Scott Kemp and a fond farewell and best wishes to Mo Sher.
Overcast but dry as we kicked off. Kurt was the first to find keeping his feet difficult as he slipped and slid into his first tackle, but we settled into the game and played some very good football in the first half. Matt Cox was called offside on a very early attack, the first of several such decisions debated and hated by our fans at that end. Our first chance came as Tom White fed a long ball to Jason Cotton which the keeper managed to clear for a throw in. Tom put Connor through which came to nought, Tom was then brought down outside the box the free kick headed just wide by Liam Avery. On 11 minutes Matt and Kurt combined to put Jason through who expertly lobbed the oncoming keeper for 1-0. Liam was unlucky in two subsequent attacks the latter being cleared off the line.
Jason won two free kicks in rapid succession, the East Preston Skipper’s view was that he ‘kept falling over’, the ref had a word with him to the wise. On 20 minutes a Mazza header from a corner went inches over the bar. We saw some good approach play down both flanks, I’m liking the movement of Tom White linking with the midfield. Tom was unlucky when Matt Cox intercepted a Preston throw and played a great pass through to him which he couldn’t quite place over the keeper. They repeated the move a few minutes later but Tom was very belatedly called offside. We all thought Jason was going to score from a Connor Blanchard cross but somehow his header went wide. The last 10 minutes of the half was all Godalming, a Luke Beale header went across the goal, Kurt picked it up and sent the ball back in from which Tom was just wide having the added shout for a penalty turned down. Mazza took on a pass from Liam, but his effort went wide and the final move of the half saw Tom White flagged offside once again from Kurt’s through ball.
1-0 Gees at half time, that dangerous score but in truth we hadn’t seen a lot from our hosts, James Colinese stopped both an early attack from their No.9 in its tracks and cleared their first corner away on 7 minutes, other than that Alfie easily dealt with a cross close to half time.
No subs for the second half but a change in the weather, the sky darkened, and it rained, and boy did it rain! The pictures posted on the Facebook page don’t do it justice. David Fiddler who we haven’t seen for a while would have been in his element. Dave, hope you are well and look forward to seeing you soon. Godalming continued to create chances, from the off Matt Cox saw the keeper beat Connor Blanchard to his cross and his second break down the flank earnt the first corner of the half. A few minutes later Tom White was adjudged offside for the first time in the half when it appeared he had timed his run perfectly.
It was becoming hard to see what was going on out there, 10 minutes in the figure of Sam Boultwood loomed out of the gloom, who had come off? it took a while to count them out and count them in again, but it was Jason who had taken his leave. Tom White went down injured off the pitch for a long period, he came back on briefly before Rikki Letch replaced him. Boulty meanwhile had been trying to add to his tally as top goal scorer but on his first chance the ball stuck under his feet before he could shoot while his second went over the bar as he attempted a shot with his back to the goal.
If it was becoming hard to see out there it was much harder to play. Alfie dealt with an East Preston cross with 20 minutes to go. Just a few signs they might be coming more into the game. “We’re going through the motions – come on!” shouted the Bealer. The only motion I could make out came from Rikkie Letch, Liam Avery and Boulty still trying to pass to each other while splashing about like 4-year-olds in a Paddling Pool. I would have taken a video but by that time my phone was suffering from the conditions too.
All credit to the lads as they still created chances, Boulty found himself with the keeper to beat who stopped both the initial shot and Connor’s return from the rebound. Kurt broke through but could only put the ball over. A scare for the Gees when we conceded a free kick around 35 yards out with 8 minutes left but the attempt went wide. Kurt found his way into the book, our only card which given the conditions is a credit. Danny Mills joined the Pool Party to replace Liam Avery and was unlucky to see a header go wide. In the final minutes Rikkie Letch sent in a high cross from the left, nobody seemed to move in the box and the static keeper must have been relieved to see the ball hit the bar and bounce over.
Yes, we should have scored more again but a clean sheet, another good performance and a result that keeps us nicely placed in the run in to the end of the season. We can see these lads like winning, and do you know what? we on the terraces like it too.
Next up is Billingshurst away Saturday 14th, 3.00pm.