First Team, Match Report

18 Feb 2024

Match Report: Colliers Wood United 0-1 Farnham Town

After clinching an English football record 22nd consecutive win to start a completed league season on Tuesday night away at Epsom and Ewell, Paul Johnson’s side travelled to Colliers Wood United to see if they could maintain their excellent run.

Last time Farnham Town travelled to Wibbandune, the Wood were actually top of the Combined Counties Premier Division South table and ran out 3-1 winners on the day. This time around, they prop up the table as the league’s bottom side, four points adrift of safety going into the game.

The Town knew that a win would move them 15 points clear at the top and one step closer to promotion, courtesy of Jersey Bulls’ win at Knaphill in the day’s early 12:30 kick off. However, they would have to do so without arguably the side’s player of the season so far, Darryl Sanders, who is set for a spell on the sidelines with a knee injury suffered in the win at Epsom & Ewell earlier in the week.

As you would expect in a bottom vs top fixture, the team at the top would enjoy a lot of possession in the attacking half and that’s exactly what Farnham had during the early stages of the game. Though, to the hosts’ credit, they defended doggedly and were able to deny the Town of many clear-cut opportunities.

It would prove to be set pieces which would be Farnham’s most prosperous avenue of attack on the afternoon, with Harry Cooksley’s deliveries often finding Ryan Kinnane who towers over most challengers when the ball goes in the air, heading over from 10 yards in Farnham’s best opportunity of the opening exchanges.

Despite their league position, the Colliers Wood side were well-drilled and high-energy, which definitely frustrated Johnson’s side. The flow of the game was often halted by a number of tactical fouls in the Farnham attacking half which presented more dead ball opportunities for Cooksley. 30-yards from goal, he tried his luck himself only for the ‘keeper Toby McKimm to move swiftly to his left and claim the ball before it found the net.

McKimm was forced into more diligent action shortly after, and again from a set piece. This time with the ball positioned in a more wider angle from the right-hand side, Tom Smith struck a left-footed effort curling into the far corner, but McKimm scrambled across his goal well to parry it away.

After navigating the early pressure, Colliers Wood grew into the game and started asking questions of their own. Their young, enthusiastic side were quick in the transition and broke with pace and purpose frequently. A pass forward broke kindly for Coby Acquaye who shrugged off Kinnane to see his shot well saved by Pat Nash, only for the referee to bring it back for an earlier foul, but the threat was there.

It took some time for Farnham to carve openings into the low-block from the hosts but Dean Rule was often the man to have the most joy with his direct dribbling. He cut inside from the left and looked to shoot into the near post only for the effort to take a deflection off the backside of Adam Liddle and start to angle into the opposite corner. McKimm, however, was able to gather the loose ball despite initially fumbling it.

Perhaps the closest either side came to scoring in the first half was the home side. Kacper Nozka whipped in a corner from the left-hand side, it didn’t have the loft it probably intended to but it came in with pace and swung in towards the near post, and with no defender on the post it was down to Nash to come across and clear it before it crossed the line.

Farnham’s best chance of the half again came from a set piece. Cooksley flighted a free-kick from the left touchline towards the box, it was knocked down by Jack Dean into the path of Owen Dean but he couldn’t quite get the right contact on his shot which almost wrong-footed McKimm as a result, but the stopped was able to get a foot to it and clear, and only for the fourth time this season in the league, Farnham would be held at 0-0 going into the interval.

The Town definitely started brighter in the second half and looked to inject some much needed life into the game. Rule intercepted a pass just outside the centre-circle in the Colliers Wood half and immediately played in Owen Dean on the right who took a touch to compose himself before looking to strike a volley into the far corner. He caught it well and it required the save of the game from McKimm to deny him a certain goal.

Five minutes later and Rule again found himself in a position to intercept a pass in the attacking half of the pitch. This time he played it to Flatman who turned and shot a fiery effort in at goal which McKimm was only able to block up into the air but no one was there to follow it up.

As the half dragged on, it had a feeling of just ‘one of those days’ for Farnham where the ball would simply just not go in for them. Rule rounded the ‘keeper and had his shot cleared off the line. Adam Liddle was picked out by Max Meaton with an excellent cross only to send his header over the bar, and Cooksley beat a defender to striker a low, left-footed effort in on goal which was well held.

With five minutes to go, the breakthrough did finally arrive for Farnham. Cooksley played a pass from deep in midfield into Charlie Postance and followed it in, receiving it back first time and immediately sliding it into Kai Tanner who turned it around the corner back into the path of Cooksley who was able to shrug off a challenger and drill the ball from the right-hand side of the box into the far left corner, sending Farnham on their way to another league victory.

Cooksley was then mobbed by his teammates and you could see what that goal meant to the team as they looked to preserve their 100% winning record in the league. It was a cruel blow to the Colliers Wood players who looked utterly bereft once that strike found the back of the net having proven to be more than just a match for the league leaders for so long in this game.

With the wind knocked out of the hosts’ sails, it was even more surprising that Farnham were unable to add to their lead. The threat from set-pieces was prominent right until the end, with Smith delivering a corner for Kinnane to head back across goal, only to see his arching effort nodded off the line for another corner.

It came straight back in from Smith, back onto the head of Kinnane and with McKimm caught under the flight of the ball looked to guide it into the net only for it to again be cleared off the line. This time, the danger wasn’t full cleared and Kinnane had another chance to double the lead when Tanner’s dragged effort from the edge of the box found its way to the captain but he spooned his shot from six yards out over the bar.

Deep into stoppage time, Kinnane would have another opportunity to head home from a corner only to see it spilled by McKimm back into the danger area but no Town player was alive to the second ball. The full time whistle would sound shortly after and Farnham Town would indeed secure a 23rd successive league victory, extending their own English league record.

For the first time in a while, Farnham would enjoy a rare Tuesday night off with no fixture planned. Their next outing is the visit of Fleet Town next Saturday.

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