Staines’ ship runs aground at home

Surrey Herald/News - - FOOTBALL -

Va­narama South Staines Town 1 Farn­bor­ough 2

IT seems im­plau­si­ble that Staines Town should be sec­ond bot­tom just a few short weeks after set­ting sail to­wards the fron­trun­ners on the good ship op­ti­mism, ul­ti­mate des­ti­na­tion the play-offs, writes Clive Youl­ton. One minute, Swans fans are star­ing up at their team leav­ing the dock aboard a lux­ury ocean liner. Next they are blink­ing dis­be­liev­ingly as they bob back into port on a tugboat with a man­gled rud­der. In terms of home form com­par­isons, it would be hard to imag­ine there could be a more rad­i­cal down­turn from 11 wins from their open­ing 12 matches one sea­son to four de­feats from five the next. With pretty much the same squad, bar­ring three or four qual­ity ad­di­tions. Such is boss Mar­cus Gayle’s lot as he tries to fathom out just how to ar­rest an alarm­ing slide from what is un­doubt­edly a tal­ented group of in­di­vid­u­als. Don’t be fooled into think­ing Boro nicked this game at the death to steal the points be­long­ing to Staines. Boro boss Spencer Day quite rightly said that had they lost this game, it would have been a trav­esty. No neu­tral in the crowd of 309 would ar­gue with that after the vis­i­tors had grabbed their hosts by the throat, turned them up­side down and emp­tied their pock­ets. Jack Turner’s de­fi­ance in the end was not enough, the Swans’ keeper pulling off a suc­ces­sion of saves to deny Day’s side who some­how trailed 1-0 with five min­utes to play. But goals from cen­tre- back Adam Brice and skil­ful mid­fielder Dan Ben­nett turned the re­sult on its head with a two-goal blast in as many min­utes. Phil Page had just hit the bar with an over­head kick and Jerel Ifil some­how blocked on the line from the same for­ward as the pres­sure mounted on the home goal. For Gayle, it was frus­trat­ing to con­cede so late after his team had stood firm, while Day was pulling his hair out be­fore his team fi­nally scored after an almost em­bar­rass­ing suc­ces­sion of misses. Gayle ad­mit­ted: “Yes the goal was com­ing so we thought we’d shut up shop with 20 min­utes to go and make it dif­fi­cult for them to go through the mid­dle. “In the end we didn’t do enough, man to man, to pre­vent it hap­pen­ing. The game is about what you do off the ball as well as on it.

“It’s the first time I’ve seen my play­ers hurt after a de­feat, in game nine. It’s a good sign but it’s taken nine games. We are on a ter­ri­ble run and we have to come out of it to get our con­fi­dence up. We are a good foot­balling side but po­ten­tial has to ma­te­ri­alise.” Swans, who have now lost six of their nine matches, had an early chance when El­liott Buchanan nod­ded over Max Wors­fold’s back-post cen­tre. But Boro had al­ready shown their in­tent. Ben­nett curled over when he should have scored, then Page was al­lowed to swivel 10 yards out, Turner sav­ing once, then pre­vent­ing Ben­nett from turn­ing in the re­bound. Turner was in­spired to block Ben­nett again, then Matt Ball chipped over with the keeper pros­trate. Staines too eas­ily sur­ren­dered pos­ses­sion in mid­field but on 41 min­utes they went in front after Turner’s long ball found Theo­phanous out wide on the left and when he cut inside, Paul Rodgers fouled him, not once, but twice, to give away a spot kick. Theo­phanous drove the ball past keeper Craig Ross for 1-0 with a typ­i­cally unerring fin­ish. The striker, a player ev­ery side at this level would love in their ranks, almost made it 2-0 when he bril­liantly con­trolled a hope­ful long ball from Ifil to side­step Ross only for the keeper to re­cover well to block from an an­gle. But the sec­ond half was an up­hill strug­gle for the hosts who gave away a glut of free kicks while Boro skip­per Lewis Fer­rell, en­joy­ing a fine game at his old club, nod­ded over from a good po­si­tion. Livewire Boro winger Fe­jri Oken­abirhie’s pace and trick­ery had caused prob­lems all af­ter­noon and his cross on 28 min­utes which flashed across the goal should have been an­tic­i­pated by Ben­nett at the back post. The in­tro­duc­tion of Boro subs An­drew Mon­tugu and Sylvester Guy­on­net livened up the vis­i­tors even more and had it been a box­ing match, the ref­eree would not only have stopped it but of­fered the home play­ers coun­selling mea­sure. Staines could not hold on, though, de­spite the tenac­ity and spirit of Eri­valdo Felix in par­tic­u­lar, pre­ferred at right back to Sanchez Ming. In the 85th minute, a header from Fer­di­nand Takyi thud­ded off the inside of a post and Brice glee­fully rammed in from close range. Ben­nett’s classy one-two with Oken­abirhie two min­utes later ended with the play­maker smash­ing the ball high and beyond Turner, which was cruel on the keeper but cer­tainly de­served from the vis­i­tors’ view­point.

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Terry Hab­good HI145386

One-nil: Louie Theo­phanous gives Swans the lead against Farn­bor­ough but the vis­i­tors struck back.

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