So, to Carshalton and its sweeping expanse of concrete for our second men’s game in the space of three days.
Why Carshalton are allowed to designate Monday as their ‘midweek’ night has always baffled me. Guardiola and Klopp would do their swedes if their players were asked to turn out twice in three days, even with the armies of physios and fitness coaches they have. Yet, the Isthmian League is perfectly happy to let part-time players do it.
No surprise, then, that we seemed to pick up two muscle injuries as the game wore on into the second half. First Keiran Murtagh went down clutching his hamstring, then Marcus Sablier limped off. I’m sure the Isthmian League’s mandatory insurance scheme – which from memory paid out about forty quid if your head fell off in a football-related accident – will look after the lads.
If there was any tiredness in the legs, it didn’t show in the first half. Carshalton Athletic lived up to their name, with pacey forwards that kept trying to hit us on the counter, but we more than matched them for the first 45.
Tommy Wood should have had a penalty when he was plainly dragged down in the box, but somehow the referee awarded a free-kick in the other direction. But no matter, as we soon took the lead anyway.
A wonderful cross-field ball found Ola Ogunwamide gunning down the left wing. He cut a delicious cross back across goal for Deon Moore, who checked his run perfectly before planting it past Carshalton’s keeper/Irish crooner Daniel O’Donovan.
We battered them for the next ten minutes, with Murtagh and Sablier both going close with decent efforts, but then we got caught on the break just as the peckish away support began scanning the half-time burger menu.
They hit a fierce pass out to the right, which their winger collected well before shrugging off a Harvey Hughes challenge and smashing a shot past Nathan Harvey. A fine, if undeserved equaliser.
Yet, if Carshalton were lucky to go in level at half-time, we were the jammiest buggers alive to escape with a point by the time all 97 minutes were up.
The boys were understandably running on fumes after Saturday’s fine effort against Enfield and as the game wore on, it looked like only a matter of time before the home side exploited our weary legs.
Chances? They had some. In one move they crashed shots against the bar and the post within seconds of one another, and Nathan Harvey was twice required to make brilliant fingertip saves. But all these chances paled into insignificance compared to the gold-plated, goal-on-a-plate, turn-the-lights-off-before-you-come-to-bed sitter they missed in injury time.
Ronnie Vint got caught in a one-on-one chase back towards his own goal and appeared to slip on the appallingly lifeless 3G surface. Nathan Harvey raced off his line to try and shut down the striker who was now clean through, but he was easily rounded. The shot was 100% goalbound, but Jake Elliott did brilliantly to block it on the line, only to see the ball loop back into the path of Carshalton sub Tom Beere. With the goal more open than a 24hr Tesco’s, Beere lashed the ball about two feet over the bar to delirious cheers from the away end.
Given Carshalton’s a Conservative seat, I fully expect Suella Braverman to be on the blower to the Met Police Commissioner this morning, demanding a full investigation into this robbery, but we tucked the point in the boot of the car and scarpered. If the highlights aren’t on Your Instant Replay, but Crimewatch, you’ll know why.
Lewes: Harvey, Elliott, Hughes, Tamplin, Vint, Penney, Murtagh, Wood, Ogunwamide, Moore, Sablier
Subs: Egan, Whelpdale, Dalling, Lumbombo-Kala, Salmon
Supporters Club man of the match: Jake Elliott’s been something of an unsung hero since slotting into centre-back, but he was superb here, not least for that goal-saving block on the line