Ide Hill turned in their best performance of the season so far to comfortably beat the early pace setters Fleetdown United and finally kick start their sluggish opening to the season.
Morale in the side took an understandable knock after last week’s demoralising defeat to local rivals Otford, but Ide Hill have been playing relatively well in their losses and knew that if they could fine tune their finishing, play with more intensity throughout the pitch and tighten up at the back that the results would start to come, which is exactly what happened on a clear autumnal day down at The Bourne Stadium.
Ide Hill manager Paul McDonagh understandably felt the need to shake the side up in order to change the flow of the season and his alterations worked perfectly. Shaun Boyle came in at left wingback and was brilliant going forwards and backwards; George Kensell added steel and goal-scoring threat to the midfield and Luke Steggle stepped into the holding role to add more bite and physicality.
Ide Hill started well, snapping into tackles throughout the pitch, nicking possession at every opportunity and driving forward in a series of blistering counterattacks that visibly left the league leaders dazed and quickly realising they were in for a tougher afternoon than expected.
Fitton had the first excellent chance; Kensell, who didn’t lose a header all game, flicked on from a goal kick, Fitton, as he did all afternoon, made himself the chance from there, bursting through a helpless backline but his one on one attempt was palmed away by the Fleetdown keeper.
Ide Hill were knocking on the door and got the goal their early pressure warranted; Boyle causing havoc down the left, he beat his man and swung over an inch perfect left footed cross to Kensell at the back post who rose highest and powered home for 1-0 after 15 minutes.
Ide Hill were rolling now; oozing confidence and bite and carving through Fleetdown with regularity, Fitton tried to round the keeper and was thwarted, but the Hill went further in front just before the break. Craig Jackson lofted a free kick into the box, Steggle muscled his man at the back post, kept it in and crossed for Columb Grant to beautifully volley into the roof of the net for the Ide Hill top scorer’s fourth of the season.
Ide Hill knew the game was far from over, especially with their recent form and a similar situation against Fleetdown last season which Fleetdown nearly nicked a point from so steeled themselves for a scrap in the second half. Fleetdown had their best spell after the break, flooding forward as Ide Hill seemingly tired from their first half exertion, and they pulled one back on the hour, their forward feinting to find space in the box before firing into the top right corner.
This could have signalled a collective crumbling but the hosts reassuringly puffed out their chests in the subsequent period, standing strong, resetting well and ultimately creating enough chances to score a few more. The crucial third was again created by the excellent Shaun Boyle, he feathered a through ball down the left channel for the young tyro Kanan Fitton, who barrelled past and through the defender in a race he was not favourite to win, a brilliant skill he pulls off seemingly at will, ran clear, set himself before the advancing keeper and scooped a sublime finish in to the net for a massive goal that put the game to bed and sealed the MOTM for Fitton for a dazzling display.
Ide Hill could have snatched more, Jackson racing clear for a one on one that he perhaps had too much time to think about, the keeper getting down to his left and palming his effort wide. Jack Edmeads also had a good chance driving through, his curled shot just went wide.
But Ide Hill saw out the game to deservedly bring home the three points in what is hopefully a landmark performance for the side for the season; firstly it moves the side away from the bottom and up in to 12th, but more importantly shows they can mix it with the top sides and move towards that end of the table if they build on it and replicate this kind of performance moving forward.
Manager McDonagh was happy with the day’s work, saying: “It was a great performance from every single player. Kanan was really strong, as was George and Shaun played really well in a new role for him. We’ve always looked like we can score at any time and created lots of opportunities today. However, the hard graft part of the is where we were much better today and that’s the template that we now need to keep to. A great win and I’m really happy with how we managed the whole game”.
Next up for Ide Hill is a visit to Tudor Sports on Saturday 24th October when they will see if they can build on this latest win.