Charterhouse 2 Ardingly 0
Charterhouse returned to their winning ways on Saturday 27th November with a hard-fought victory over a very strong Ardingly team. Heavy frost threatened the game on the morning of the match but, by kick-off, the pitch had thawed into an excellent playing surface.
Though missing some key players, Ardingly arrived on Big Ground with two members of the ISFA South squad selected to play at Shrewsbury the following day and a reputation for playing an impressive passing game. They did not disappoint. The early exchanges saw both sides trying out long range shots while battling for control of midfield. A brilliant run along the by-line by the Ardingly right-winger saw the ball struck across goal. Oli Plummer just got a hand to the cross and the ball then passed right across the face of goal and away to safety.
This escape apart, however, neither side managed to create a real goal chance as defences took control. The game ended in a goalless draw in 2009 and the odds were growing on a similar outcome this year, until Ed Mole latched onto a hopeful clearance from the home defence, shrugged off two challengers and planted the ball firmly into the far corner of the net.
As is their custom, Charterhouse rang the changes at half-time and, not surprisingly, took a little while to settle. Ardingly, on the other hand, came out all guns blazing and, with Ed Strang already having blocked one effort, the potent Ardingly attack broke into the penalty box and struck a shot from 8 yards. The ball hit the inside of Plummer’s left-hand post and rebounded across goal where the grateful goalkeeper was first to react.
Spurred by this, Ardingly continued to press. They struck the post again, missed twice from close range, though acute angles, and had what they thought to be a strong appeal for a penalty turned down. Charterhouse, meanwhile, offered a different challenge through the lively Louis Speelmans. His pace was a constant threat to the Ardingly defence, but either the ball through was overhit, or his first touch let him down. Nevertheless, he made sure that the visitors could not relax and the match swung dramatically from end to end.
The game took its decisive final turn in the 61st minute. Frazer Payne took a corner from the right and, as so many other times this year, his cross unerringly found Jack Ryder-Smith’s head and the captain made no mistake.
Ardingly’s heads did not drop, but Charterhouse were more secure in their lead now and their ever-reliable defence coped comfortably with everything that the visitors could throw at them in the last twenty minutes.
Charterhouse won a game which was decided by very fine margins and will take real confidence into their Boodles ISFA Cup quarter-final against Repton on Tuesday. Ardingly, meanwhile, went home empty-handed but with the thought that, but for a coat of paint, it might all have been very different.