Slade Green and Greenwich share six goals
Error packed, entertaining Kent League clash at The Small Glen
3-3 Greenwich Borough
Saturday 14 February 2004
Go Travel Kent League Premier Division
Martin Wiseman reports from The Small Glen
Eleven minutes into the 1965-66 season, Keith Peacock of Charlton Athletic became the football world's first ever substitute. Without the introduction of subs all those 38 years ago, Slade Green would have been down to 8 men by half time in this feisty encounter with Greenwich Borough at The Small Glen.
But this was only one ingredient of a bizarre, contentious error packed (especially by the keepers and the officials) yet ultimately, entertaining Kent League clash.
The lethargic start to this game gave little hint of what dramas were to follow. Yet memories of this lack-lustre opening were soon forgotten when on the quarter hour a sweet four man move ended with Green's man of the match Dave Martin rattling the visitors cross-bar from 22 yards.
Green's medical malaise then set in 'big time' when on 18 minutes key defender Phil Miles had to yield to a thigh strain. Almost immediately Scott Lewis also needed lengthy attention, but managed to soldier on to see out the 90 minutes.
But the fun and games enhanced by some comic goalkeeping got under way properly in the 22nd minute. Dave Martin took a free kick from deep out on the left and Borough custodian Morriba Baker's lack of inches maybe counted against him as he floundered to collect, under challenge he dropped the ball invitingly to the feet of Mark Sabatino who gratefully found the net from 5 yards.
Another quality Martin cross a minute later was this time dealt with competently by Baker as he punched the ball off Shaun Malyon's head.
Another minute on and the unwelcome spotlight fell this time on home keeper Paul Vines, he failed to deal with a wicked in swinging corner from ex Green favourite Marcos Perona. Attempts by two Green defenders to head the ball away failed, and Boro centre back Mark Dudley claimed an initial touch, as the ball was adjudged to have crossed the home goal-line.
The 27th minute found Perona delivering another pin-point corner this time from the opposite flank, and after a headed flick on, Dudley pounced once again at the far post to stab Borough into a 2-1 lead.
A midfield clash on 33 minutes ended with Mark Barton having to be carried off the pitch, and Green found themselves forced to operate with their two subs Peter Coupland and Michael Dallon up front as Shaun Malyon dropped back to fill the midfield gap. But Malyon did not last in this role being on the receiving end of a crunching 37th minute tackle for which Lee Macken got a booking.
Malyon failed to reappear after the half time break. The closing stages of the first period saw more hectic goalmouth action as, first, Vines made a double save to keep out both Perona and Collins.
At the other end Baker again failed to cope with another penetrating Martin free kick. His fumble sent the ball up onto the cross-bar, and as it fell, this time it was Peter Coupland who was on hand to cash in on another soft strike for Green to equalise.
Following a good block by Darren Upson on 55 minutes, Paul Vines made a flying save as Borough's Macken latched onto the rebound. This resulted in Vines being subjected to yet another probing Perona corner and yet another goal from this source appeared to have restored Boro's lead as Vines turned Perona's delivery into his own net.
Green were to rue the linesman's intervention later in the half, but on this occaasion they let out a collective sigh of relief as his raised flag indicated that Vines had been impeded.
By now the game was reaching boiling point, bookings flowed fast and furious as the sides got stuck in and the ball was getting kicked away by both player and manager alike (Dallon got yellow carded for the offence, but visiting manager Dave Ward didn't).
Lee Mackan got in two fruitless attempts on the home goal and Perona nearly registered against his ex colleagues. But it was the depleted Green side who ensured the lead changed for a third time when on 69 minutes, Michael Dallon won his side their first corner of the game. Martin had his corner played back to him, which allowed him to set up his hat-trick of assists by floating over a superb delivery to the far post when Paul McCarthy swooped in to head past Baker.
Greenwich sub Ray Power then rattled the home cross-bar on 77 minutes with a re-taken free kick. Green seemed to have sewn the game up 5 minutes later when a flowing move between Martin and McCarthy, conspired again for the latter to head the ball home.
But no the all prevailing linesman's flag popped up again. At the after match inquisition the linesmen stated that neither of Green's two protagonists in the move were offside, but a third, unidentified Green shirted play following in was the culprit But one final piece of linesman's 'skull flaggery' was to hit Green even harder just 2 minutes later when, as happened at Whitstable over the Christmas break. Lee Barber appeared to have made an exemplary tackle in the box to deny Matt Norris, only to have the 'lino' place the flag across hit chest, thereby decreeing that it was a case of man before ball.
Green's protests achieved nothing, and Perona calmly slotted home the penalty to level the scores.
Stoppage time saw a McCarthy header
saved while the games final kick had visitors, Mike Cleary scuffing a golden
opportunity to snatch a win for Borough.