Ide Hill extended their lead at the top of the league to six points with a masterful and dominant win over title rivals Club Langley on Saturday afternoon.
Ide Hill beat Langley 1-0 in the reverse fixture earlier in the season thanks to a George Kensell goal, but Langley are still part of the chasing pack, along with Sydenham Sports who have games in hand, so Ide Hill knew they needed to post another statement performance to stay in control of the league.
And Ide Hill started fast, something which was lacking at the start of the season but has gladly returned in recent weeks. Langley looked to play out from the back, but the relentless pressing of the home side resulted in two good chances within the first minute for Matt Bunn and Kensell, with both being narrowly missed.
Ide Hill had a strong squad of 16, only missing Jack Edmeads through suspension and Ben Holder through injury and the whole squad is contributing to this impressive season, with quality all over the pitch and on the bench to call on to change the game or see out results.
The hosts continued to defend resolutely and attack with lightning speed, cutting through Langley time and again on the break, with Callum Heath driving down the right as well as Bunn and Columb Grant pressing and linking up with incision.
The Hill deservedly took the lead after 40 minutes of good quality football from both sides, Bunn wriggling away from a Langley defender in the box and being brought to the ground. Craig Jackson stepped up to roll his 7th goal of the season in to the bottom corner.
Ide Hill were buoyed by grabbing a lead they had warranted and stepped up the pressure in the dying moments of the first half, adding a second just before the break. A Jackson flick on was squared in the box by Bunn to Grant who controlled, swivelled and fired the ball in to the corner as the despairing keeper watched on.
In the second half the technically impressive Langley team controlled much of the possession, without ever really carving out any chances of note beyond one shot from the corner of the box which was skewed in to the side netting. Ide Hill’s defending became more intense when they were reduced to ten men on the hour, with Heath picking up a second yellow for an innocuous incident.
This is testament to the increasingly strong defence, who have now kept back to back clean sheets and were marshalled excellently by Charlie James, Ben Pearson and Captain Alteirac, with Mikey Mckay brave and calm behind them in the goal, they saw out the game even with the numerical deficiency. Mark Driver also put in his best performance of the season at left wing back, earning the Man of the Match through strong defending against a tricky winger, nicking the ball and pushing the team forward throughout.
With this solidity and control, it was Ide Hill who always looked like scoring again on the break, and so it proved, with Tom Wright skilfully releasing substitute Shaun Boyle who, fresh from his two goal cameo last week, slalomed through the defence, into the box and slotted beyond the Langley keeper in off the post for 3-0.
Ide Hill now have a two week break from the league due to cup commitments, but will go in to December at the top of the table, looking ahead to looming games with Sydenham and Chipstead full of confidence that they can hold their own with anyone in the league when on this form.