Fresh off their opening league game of the season in the 4-0 away win at Balham the Saturday just gone, Farnham Town were back in action on Tuesday night for their first home game of the season, welcoming newly promoted Sandhurst Town to The Memorial Ground.
Sandhurst were coming into the game off the back of their first match back at Step 5 level where they suffered a 6-1 defeat to Redhill, so were looking to bounce back against a buoyant Farnham side who themselves were riding the crest of a wave having won their first two games of the campaign, boasting a 4-0 scoreline in both.
Manager Paul Johnson would name an unchanged starting line-up for the visit of Sandhurst from the team that dispatched Balham at the weekend, with the only change in the match-day squad being Ricky Wellard returning to the bench in place of Lewis Flatman, who was nursing a calf injury.
As they have done in both their games prior, Farnham came out of the blocks fast and thought they had taken the lead when Owen Dean’s low driven cross found Darryl Sanders creeping round the back post to slot home, only for the linesman to have raised his flag for offside on Sanders. Blessed with the ability to watch it back as Farnham were live streaming the game on YouTube – as they will be for every Tuesday night league game home and away – Sanders was quite a ways onside when the ball was played round the corner for him.
From then out for the majority of the first half, it appeared that for all of Farnham’s huffing and puffing, they were unable to find a way past Liam Harris in the Sandhurst net, a name that might be familiar to many Town fans reading this, as Liam spent several months with Farnham during last season and is a fan favourite with us.
Sanders was Farnham’s most dangerous attacker by some distance, testing Harris on a number of occasions with the ‘keeper equal to it every time. One well struck effort from distance midway through the first 45 was only parried by Harris into the path of Owen Dean, who looked to square for Shamal Edwards, but a last-ditch challenge from a Sandhurst defender denied Edwards an easy tap-in.
The visitors didn’t offer much during the game, but came close to grabbing an unlikely lead when a looping cross from the right-wing was sailing over Pat Nash, but the ‘keeper managed to get fingertips to it and divert it away from the net.
Deep into first half stoppage time, the deadlock was finally broken. A well-worked Farnham move made its way to Tom Smith on the left flank, an area he often found himself with acres of space. He skipped pass the defender and crossed low into the box. A mis-hit clearance was pounced on by Sanders, and while Harris was able to parry away his first attempt, the second burst through his gloves and The Town took a 1-0 lead going into half-time.
While we didn’t see much of him in the first period, Shamal Edwards definitely rose to prominence after the interval. The lead was almost doubled when Jack Dean’s cross was met by Edwards, whose header was tipped around the post by Harris.
Again, it would be a cross from the right-hand side that would nearly lead to a second. This time is was Sanders who whipped the ball around the Sandhurst defence for Edwards, but his mis-timed shot ballooned into the air and into the hands of Harris.
A third chance went begging for Edwards when Dean Rule’s dummy over a through ball from Sanders meant it rolled into the stride of the striker who tried to curl it into the top corner but was just inches away from perfection. It felt as if it wasn’t meant to be for Farnham to increase their lead, especially when Harry Cooksley rattled the post with a driven strike from 25 yards shortly after.
With 25 minutes to go, The Town were gifted the opportunity to double their lead from the penalty spot when Cooksley was brought down in the penalty area. The culprit for Sandhurst was shown a second yellow for the tackle and given his marching orders as the visitors would be down to 10 men.
Sanders stepped up to take the penalty, but Harris was able to keep it out. Substitute Charlie Postance scuffed a follow up with Harris again was equal to, but he was only able to tip it into the path of Owen Dean who nodded home from two yards out and at last, Farnham had their second.
Johnson began to introduce all of his substitutes into the game but that didn’t stop Farnham from pressing on and increasing their advantage. Sanders played a scooped pass over the right-back into the path of Ricky Wellard who had only just come on. Wellard pulled it back towards the penalty spot for Joe Jackson who calmly bent in his first goal for the Club with 10 minutes to go, and with that the result was sealed.
Wellard again would be at the heart of Farnham’s fourth deep into injury time when his piercing pass arrived at the feet of Postance who shrugged off two challenges before belting the ball into the bottom corner, sending Farnham to the top of the table after another 4-0 win.
The Town keep marching on as their new-look squad continues to gel and improve under Paul Johnson, but there will be tougher tasks ahead.