Potters Bar Town 4 vs Lewes 3: Broken bare bones

Christ on a sodding motorbike. For eighty-odd minutes of this one, we were decent, fully deserving of the three points. And then we had one of those ten-minute collapses that are becoming a worrying hallmark of this season.

We got off to a flyer. Jack Skinner had warmed the goalkeeper’s palms before Joe Taylor prodded home a seventh-minute opener after a bursting run and cross from Ayo Olukoga down the left. Evening all, and some more of this please.

And some more came. Skinner was a nimble nuisance, Razz was giving his full-back anxiety attacks, The Bastard was prowling. This lot are top of the league? All the best. We’re making them look village.

When The Bastard narrowly missed a one-on-one midway through the first half, nervous glances were being exchanged in the away end. Will we come to regret that? Is that the chance gone begging? No, not really, because just before half-time we made it two.

The Potters full-back played a suicidal back pass, that Taylor almost got a toe to. It was a Gazza Euro 96 moment, but no matter, because the keeper still picked it up and conceded one of those comedy free-kicks, where everyone has to stand on the line and wait for a ball to be walloped in their direction.

“Just belt it at the goal, Joe!” yelled Chairman Stu, winging it as our set-piece coach. That hardly needed saying, as the ball was tapped back to The Bastard for a Thunderbastard.

We almost made it to half-time. Almost. A Potters corner was half-cleared to the edge of the box and Kasim Aidoo smashed it low past Carey. It took the edge off the half-time pint, truth be told.

Nevermind, because it was all shits and giggles within six minutes of the second half restarting. Potters were lobbing balls into our box like a tinpot mid-eighties Wimbledon, but we caught them on the break. Razz skittled down the left, delivered a pinpoint cross to TQ Addy, who had time to read Facebook’s terms & conditions before slotting the ball beautifully into the bottom corner.

We had chances to make it four. Razz failed to pick out Taylor, shooting instead from a tight angle, much to The Bastard’s disgust. But that little dust-up was all forgotten moments later when Taylor fed a ball to Razz, who did what Razz does: cut inside, lamped it, but saw his stinging shot slap the post instead of the back of the net.

Then bad things happened…

You can look for a million and one excuses why we couldn’t see out the match, but chief among them has to be our lack of depth on the bench. We had only four named subs, including a young goalkeeper, an injured Jamie Mascoll, and Deshane Dalling, who either wasn’t there or was hiding inside Tony’s cool box.

The boys had put in a tremendous shift, but we had nothing to change it with. No winger to come on and stretch their back line, no midfielders to replace the knackered Skinner. The only fit outfield player was Mitchell Nelson, another centre-back, who came on for the final stretch.

I know we’ve got injuries, but we’ve got a very decent playing budget and one of the best youth teams in Sussex. Why can’t we even fill a bench? It’s happened several times recently. You can’t hope to be in the promotion mix and have fewer fit subs than a Sunday League side.

And so, a team that had battled well for 80 minutes, collapsed in the final ten. Potters’ second goal came from another half-clearance, which landed at the feet of Lewes defender tribute act Miles Mitchell-Nelson, whose shot seemed to take a slight deflection before skidding past Carey.

The Edward Woodward came in the 90th minute. Carey punched a corner clear and to relative safety, but Mo Kamara absolutely lashed it home from a tight angle. No real complaints, it was a superb strike.

The sickener was the fourth. The Rooks’ defence was all at sea, allowing Potters to get a cross in from the right which was swept home by the unmarked Rudy Allen. Unmarked despite three centre-backs being on the pitch at the time.

Then more bad things happened…

Tonight we get the news we’ve withdrawn from the Sussex Senior Cup, our last realistic chance of any silverware this season. Why? Curiously, because we couldn’t agree a new date with Worthing for a game we had to postpone in the first place because we didn’t have enough fit players…

That we didn’t have enough bodies to fulfill a fixture already wasn’t great. That we’ve pulled out over a squabble about dates is… well, I’ll leave the final word to you lot (hit ‘read the replies’).

Lewes: Carey, Elva-Fountaine, Renee, Salmon, Champion, Young, Olukoga, Skinner, Addy, Coleman De-Graft, Taylor

Subs: Nelson, Mascoll, Dalling, Hall

Supporters Club man of the match: Just to make a change from the usual suspects, cap doffed in the direction of Jack Skinner, who hustled well in midfield until he (understandably) ran out of puff