Shrewsbury 1 Charterhouse 0
Charterhouse undertook the long trip to Shrewsbury on November 19th full of hope that missing the fun of the newly-timed Founder’s Feast would be more than compensated for by a rare victory in Shropshire. Like many generations before them, they were to return disappointed and empty-handed as their hosts took an early lead and then clung to it with great resolve and skill.
Aside from the ISFA Cup matches, Charterhouse has won only five times at Shrewsbury since the fixture was first played in 1922 and many good sides have come unstuck there. In the past, it has been customary to blame the pitch which was so foreign to the visitors but in the last year Shrewsbury have put in drainage and had the surface laser-levelled and their pitch now stands in comparison with any school ground in the country.
What went wrong for the visitors? The tone was set early in the day when the two experienced coaches got lost in the outskirts of the town and had to rely on Google instructions to find the school. Somehow, the team’s radar was equally affected as passes went astray and they seemed all at sea for the first quarter of an hour.
In itself, this has not been so unusual this season although on this occasion the loss of a soft goal proved crucial. A hopeful cross from 40 yards out managed to elude the usually reliable Oli Plummer and the Shrewsbury forward was left to head home comfortably at the far post. There was only five minutes on the clock and Charterhouse had plenty of time to recover but that one error of judgement was to prove very costly indeed.
Charterhouse did fight back with a series of long range efforts and a number of testing crosses. At the other end, the Charterhouse central defenders had their hands full with the lively Roy Chatterjee, but stuck to their task and restricted Shrewsbury to long range efforts, which Plummer coped with well.
On the half hour mark, it looked as though Charterhouse’s efforts were to be rewarded when Tom Gilbey burst down the left flank and pulled the ball back to Charlie Kimmins who was left with a simple tap-in from six yards. Unfortunately for him the tap-in became a tap-out as he contrived to put the ball the wrong side of the post.
Half-time came and went and Charterhouse rang the changes but to little effect. Certainly, they dominated the second half, restricting Shrewsbury to just one shot on target and that after only five minutes of the half. Try as they might, however, they could not find a way through a tight defence and past an in-form goalkeeper. On 50 minutes, a scramble at a corner gave Tim Downes a chance with a powerful header from 12 yards, but the keeper made an excellent save in the bottom corner. After 63 minutes, Jack Ryder-Smith fed Louis Speelmans but, with a clear run on goal, the striker's touch let him down and the goalkeeper was able to pick the ball up comfortably.
Finally, with just three minutes left, Charterhouse were awarded a free kick some 25 yards from goal. Ryder-Smith struck his shot well but again the keeper was a match for it turning the ball onto the upright and away to safety.
Charterhouse’s run of seven consecutive victories came to an end, but they can certainly feel that they played their part in a compelling contest and there is still much to play for with a game against Ardingly and a Cup quarter final with Repton on the horizon.