Ide Hill FC showed remarkable character and resilience to earn a point on Saturday afternoon against Fleetdown United, despite playing an hour with 10 men, they managed to come from behind twice to start 2020 with a draw.
It was an exciting start to a new era for Ide Hill, playing their first home fixture at Sevenoaks Town’s Bourne Stadium following the agreement to ground-share with them for the rest of the season, and a good crowd turned up to watch a game that had a bit of everything.
Having narrowly beaten Fleetdown 3-2 back in September, holding on in the dying minutes for the win, Ide Hill knew the game would be tight again, and the fact Ide Hill hadn’t played in a month owing to weather and the Christmas break showed in some sloppiness in the first half.
Fleetdown took the lead on 15 minutes, some slack passing in the midfield and at the back allowed Charlie Perfitt to break through and slot home to take Fleetdown in front. Ide Hill were looking dangerous themselves on the break, however, with the raiding Callum Heath linking well with the deft forward play of Barry Ryan and Columb Grant as the home side looked to strike back quickly.
And Ide Hill quickly pulled themselves level on 20 minutes, Craig Jackson span in the midfield from a good Luke Steggle pass, played a clever one two with Grant and lashed past the goalkeeper for his seventh of the season and a deserved equaliser. The key event of the game arrived on 30 minutes, Perfitt was again released by a long, raking through ball and Charlie James, in pursuit, tangled with the forward when clean through. It was hard to determine whether the foul was in the box, and the referee gave the penalty, and to compound matters, and to the shock of the entire ground, James was harshly given his marching orders.
Harry O’Brien stepped up after the protests had died down, fired towards the bottom right corner, yet Mike McKay leapt to that side and produced a stunning penalty save to keep the sides level. The complexion of the game shifted in that moment, although the match remained even for the rest of the half and in to the second, but the ten men of Ide Hill were having to defend more and more against the extra man.
Ben Pearson put in another strong performance at the back, repelling numerous attacks, but Ide Hill finally buckled after 70 minutes, O’Brien fashioning a yard from a set piece and heading home to seemingly take Fleetdown towards victory.
However, Ide Hill showed commendable mettle in hauling themselves back in to the game; Shaun Boyle was brought on and caused trouble with his dangerous dribbling and pace, and he laid on the equaliser on 80 minutes. A quick free kick was slipped to him in the box, his excellent first touch took him round the defender and to the by line, before he squared into the six-yard box for Man of the Match Phil Alteirac to ram home.
It was a fitting end for Alteirac after a dominant display at the back, and he was pleased with the resolve his side had shown in earning a point. “We made a sluggish start and weren’t at our best, but showed great character to dig our heels in and tough out a draw with 10 men, especially as we had to come from behind twice”, said the centre-back.
Ide Hill manager, Paul McDonagh, was also keen to take the positives from a mixed afternoon: “It was great to be back after a long break and great to be able to use the facilities of Sevenoaks Town. Our long break showed in our slow start though, and their goal came from that. We deserved to pull level, but the sending off made the game really hard, although we showed great resilience and could have won it, but I’ll take the point especially from the position we were put in. I believe we will improve from here”.
And on his players: “Mike’s penalty save was brilliant and so important for us at that stage, whilst Phil was solid again at the back, winning his headers and tackles throughout, and popping up with a crucial late equaliser”.
So Ide Hill start 2020 with a point, which keeps them in fourth position in the league. Next week they are due to host a resurgent Hawkinge Town at Camberwell Lane, as The Bourne Stadium is unavailable, and will be looking to pick up a win.
Kent County Football League Premier Division
|1||Staplehurst Monarchs United||15||13||1||1||61||9||52||37*|
|3||Faversham Strike Force Seniors||14||9||3||2||42||23||19||30|
|7||Farnborough O B Guild||14||7||2||5||37||29||8||23|
|10||K Sports Reserves||17||4||4||9||25||36||-11||16|