Aldershot and Farnham head coach Ian Jennings hailed his side’s “best performance of the season” as they beat Sevenoaks’ second team 9-3 in the South East Premier Division on Saturday.
“I don’t think anyone would disagree when I say that was, without doubt, our best performance of the season so far,” said Jennings. “And not just for the scoreline, but by the way all our lines played and connected.
“The forwards have been getting a pretty hard time from me all season and their performance really impressed me. Their energy and the lines they closed the opponents down on was exceptional.
“It is always very pleasing for a coach to see so many things you practise on the training track coming to fruition. It was a real squad effort and leaves us in a strong position for our aim of finishing in the top four, which in our first season in this league would be truly outstanding.
“It has shown us that when we are at our strongest – albeit we still had one player missing – we can not only compete, but beat anyone in this league.
“All we need now is more consistency.”
Aldershot and Farnham welcomed Sevenoaks to Heath End on Saturday, looking to avenge a narrow 1-0 loss from earlier in the season.
A&F pushed forward early on, imposing their meandering style on Sevenoaks, and soon took the lead. Tom Herring weaved his way down the left-hand side and delivered a cross which was deflected home by James Treadgold.
A&F were getting plenty of joy down the flanks and round the back through the direct running of Scott Perry and Stu Morhall. Morhall then found some space on the right, entered the circle and won a penalty corner. Perry was not to be foiled by the Sevenoaks goalkeeper, and doubled A&F’s lead with a powerful flick.
Having been placed on the back foot, Sevenoaks resorted to long balls and direct running of their own through the middle of the park.
They showed just how dangerous and clinical they could be on the break not long after A&F’s second. A few tackles missed on the centre midfielder created an opening and as the defence rushed out to close the danger, the ball was fed to a forward in behind who lifted the ball over Hamish Hall in goal to cut the deficit.
This gave the visitors some belief and their forwards began stretching the A&F defence high. A long ball again got them going and the forward slipped the ball past Hall to an unmarked teammate with an open goal. A&F were let off massively as the visitors could only find the side board.
After the let-off, A&F were keen to create some breathing room again. This time the joy was found down the left after a sweeping move forward and Perry fed the ball to Morhall, who calmly rounded the keeper. Morhall then received a green card, but the score remained 3-1 at half-time.
A&F came out for the second half firing on all cylinders.
Four penalty corners were won early on in the half through the tireless pressing efforts of the forward line of Zac Chinn, Jonny Groves, Josh Frost, Paddy Cradden, Jake Combes and Phil Rushmere.
All four corners resulted in goals. First Perry flicked into the bottom right-hand corner, then Jamie Weston continued his scoring form by lifting high into the net after the keeper saved well from Perry. Perry managed to get the better of the keeper next time around to clinch his hat-trick before Treadgold flicked the fourth corner into the bottom right-hand corner to make it 7-1.
Sevenoaks looked down and out, but they soon made it 7-2.
A botched penalty corner routine was picked up and slipped out to their left. The ball came back into the D and appeared to be deflected in off the back of the forward’s stick.
The goal lifted the visitors and they were given another lift as Morhall received a yellow card. Sevenoaks went into a full press and Kevin McCafferty conceded possession which then led to a penalty corner. The slick routine was finished off to make it 7-3.
A&F then drove along the baseline and a pull back found Groves unmarked to finish off the move and make it 8-3.
Chinn scored the ninth after a Perry aerial wasn’t dealt with by the Sevenoaks defence. Chinn drove across the D and fired a strike high into the net.
A&F have a week off this Saturday, before travelling to high-flying Holcombe on Saturday, February 25.