A Game Of Two Flags
Welwyn Garden City 3 Oxhey Jets 1
Spartan South Midlands Premier
10th February 2018
Jets will honestly wonder how they lost and came home empty handed from the trip to league leaders and red-hot championship favourites Welwyn Garden City.
On an atrocious pitch that got ruined in the rain-drenched afternoon (no criticisms of match ref on inspections here, the home side wanted it played) the two teams battled out a nose to nose encounter that showed no reflection of the vast difference in league points and positions.
Lee Stedman shuffled with the frequent pullouts, but this time the growing squad gave good reason to think long and hard about recalls as they were outstanding on the day. Trying not to be biased here but we should have come home with more than a pat on the back.
Jets showed their intent early on and looked like they had the lead when Chris Blunden slotted past the keeper, but the post denied him. Then they did think they had it when Petru headed home a Seymour corner and, with the ref pointing to the centre, a late and genuinely dreadful beyond belief flag following a lengthy discussion saw it ruled out for offside. That was despite a man on the post AND the keeper being there as the photos show. Not even a single home team appeal, even WGC manager Adam Fisher admitted on Twitter that it was “a ridiculous decision, and impossible for him to be offside” !!
While Jets continued to be rattled by the decision, they went behind when the surface seemed to beat Keeley in Jets goal as he slid past the low pass from Bond and Kersey easily tapped home 1-0 (32 mins).
WGC then had the ball in the net again, but it was ruled out for a foul on John Smith. Then Jets got their rewards when a quick break led to Seymour being brought down in the penalty area, and John Smith slotted the pen. 1-1 (45 mins)
The second half was a battle. It could be nothing else with the pitch now in tatters. Jets were making the chances, Eli Seymour blazed a sitter high over, and when the keeper was caught out by the corner flag, John Smith went for broke from just inside the half with a first timer but regretfully for us wide of the target.
The Home keeper twice denied Blunden with good saves, then disaster as young Vass Mandeville brought down the on goal striker and earned a yellow. But Ryan Keeley saved from Clements (79 mins) and Jets were back on it.
Jets, if anything, got braver and went for the winner. Then a massive dispute and again the same assistant as the home side got the lead through Ironton as the whole Jets line waited for offside.
Jets were rattled with the official, who I must say was very influential in today’s result, and attempted to salvage a point by pushing forward. It looked like they had it when a Blunden free-kick dropped to Curtis Donaldson but it was agonisingly on the tip of the toe and just edged to the keeper. WGC broke and killed the match (95 mins), the sign of champions really, ride the storm and apply the killer touch.
Jets effort was excellent today, and no criticism can be aimed at anyone for energy or attitude in dreadful conditions, but there was a lesson to be learned, take your chances or pay the price in defeat.
The hosts are robust and competitive all over, and I’m sure they will have the promotion and championship trophy in April. For us, the fight for safety continues with much heart drawn from this performance.
Jets Man of the Match was done by watching reserve skipper Scott Pugsley, and it was shared between young Vass Mandeville and keeper Ryan Keeley.
Jets First Half Blitz
Oxhey Jets 4 Crawley Green 2
Spartan South Midlands Premier
3rd February 2018
Enormous three points make no mistake about that for Jets in this massive relegation match. With many sides in the dogfight at the bottom, Jets needed to get something from this crucial game against fellow strugglers Crawley Green.
It was also a chance for Jets to get a double as they won the reverse fixture in the opening game of the season.
Jets made changes and gave a debut start to new signing Curtis Donaldson who transferred in from Leverstock Green on Friday. He rewarded Jets immediately with a superb header after just 11 minutes finishing in the far side of the net 1-0.
Jets were up at the moment as the rain came down and ten minutes later Chris Blunden curled a 25-yard great free kick in for 2-0 ( 21 mins).
Jets were dominating and playing some good stuff and added the third after a double save and goalmouth scramble with Patru blasting high in the net 3-0 (29 mins).
Jets then had three or four more good chances but either missed or were denied by some excellent goalkeeping. The visitors then pulled one back and what a great goal it was. Jets keeper Rob Partington tried in vain to block out, and a class curler round him and a defender was in all the way 3-1 (38 mins).
Jets wobbled now and were more than pleased to hear the whistle for HT under pressure.
The second half was all Crawley as Jets started to panic and lost their composure on the ball. Donaldson and Blunden worked hard and chased and chased but now it was the defenders doing the work and how well they did, and when beaten Partington was on his toes ready.
A mistake all but killed the visitors when Degi intercepted and laid a perfect ball on for Johobi Maher to calmly score 4-1 (73 mins).
Crawley Green did not give up though, and they threw all at Jets. Partington made a superb 1:1 save before, on 90 minutes, Green pulled one back. 4-2
It was a scare and Jets did panic a bit in the stoppage time, but it was out of reach and Jets gained three important points to edge five points in front of Crawley in the table, but a long way to go.
Man of the match was highly contested. The hard-working debut from Curtis Donaldson; Degi Ikusemori who was competitive in the middle all day; and Jude Bell and Lewis Smith both earned a vote. So, on a split vote, it went to the one with most mentions, Degi who won his sponsor’s bottle of the good stuff.
A well-refereed match played in great spirit by two sides desperate for points.