Herne Bay 4 vs Lewes 1: Brace, brace, brace

T’was a night where anything that could go wrong did.

Shortly before kick-off, we found out the under-18s vital FA Youth Cup tie at Hastings was postponed because of floodlight failure, and that the chairman’s plane had been forced into an emergency landing at Gatwick because of a steering failure. And that was the good news.

There’s no dressing it up, the first half was awful. The players and management came over to apologise to the away fans at the end, and for that they deserve credit. It’s a lot easier to hide in the dressing rooms than face up to fans – the apologies were warmly received.

The harder bit is fixing what’s gone wrong, which has left us gingerly checking the results of the teams in the bottom four, not those at the top.

Believe it or not, we started this game well. We looked lively, moved the ball well, were putting Herne Bay under pressure on their brand new 3G. Klass had an early shot that was comfortably saved, Joe tried an audacious chip from a tight angle, Razz almost put Irish Stu in a coma with a fierce drive that sailed wide and an inch over the big man’s head. Stu needed a little sit down after that…

Then the real trouble started.

Bay whipped a ball to Jack Parter, out on the left wing, who had enough space to set up a folk festival. He drove inside and let fly with a shot, which appeared to deflect off a defender before nestling into Carey’s net.

Three minutes later, we were two down. A cheap foul was given away on the edge of the box and Kieron Campbell clipped a delightful free-kick over the top of our wall into the top corner. Carey had more chance of winning Miss World than stopping that.

Tony took immediate action, hooking Ayo Olukoga and bringing on Brad Pritchard, but it didn’t stem the onslaught. Within two minutes we were three down. Walters could have set up an Amazon warehouse in the room he was left to run into down the right wing. He cut inside and lashed a fierce shot past Carey. Three goals in six minutes. We’d collapsed faster than the pound.

Morphine shots were passed around in the away end, but there was a glimmer of hope when Joe Taylor prodded home a Reece Murrell-Williamson cross. After a chinwag with the lino, the referee declared it offside.

Three became four shortly before half-time. Once again we let Bay run unimpeded down the right wing. The ball was fed inside and Salmon clattered into the back of the striker. Penalty. 4-0. Goodnight.

The second half was a non-event, played at the pace of a pre-season friendly. Herne Bay were happy to sit on what they had. We didn’t throw in the towel, but we did exactly lay siege to their goal either. We got a late consolation from the penalty spot, when half-time sub Silva was felled in the box, but in all honesty that was a soft decision that nobody even appealed for. The Bastard tucked it home, of course.

So what now…

Let’s not panic. We’re still less than a quarter of the way through the season and things can change quickly, especially when you’re playing twice a week. We’ve got some bastard-hard fixtures coming up, but they are an opportunity.

We’ve lost the fear factor. In the middle part of last season, teams were sitting off us (with the exception of Worthing!), because they were worried about our forward-line threat. That’s gone. Teams are coming at us now and we’ve got to respond. We can’t be so buccaneering, can’t leave that much space for opponents to exploit, because they will.

We need to settle the side, tighten up, and hit teams when we get the chance. Win ugly, if we have to.

All of that is a damned site easier to write than do. But we’ve got a good manager, good players and good supporters. As long as those three things remain so, we’ll be alright. Trust me, I’m a pillock.

Lewes: Carey, Elva-Fountaine, Mascoll, Champion, Salmon, Klass, Young, Olukoga, Murrell-Williamson, Coleman De-Graft, Taylor

Subs: Nelson, Moore, Renee, Silva, Pritchard

Supporters club man of the match: Joe, purely for prodding home the penalty

Danny Last’s Insta magic: