Whites slumped to their fourth home league defeat of the season with a below-par performance against Molesey. After having had the better of the first half, Whites just weren’t at the races after the interval. And when Daniel Sacha added to Phil Ruggles’ opener, coupled with Craig Cloke’s sending off, the three points were always leaving Crabble on the visitors’ team coach.
There were a few changes made to the side for Terry White’s first home game as caretaker manager. With Lee Spiller serving a one-match suspension for an accumulation of bookings, Shane Hamshare came into the side, with the captain’s armband given to Cloke. Nick Humphrey was also handed a starting berth, with Bradley Spice not fit enough to start after his injury last Sunday. On the bench was recent temporary signing Matthew Batt, who was available for selection after consultation with his current club, Dagenham and Redbridge.
Whites made a bright start, mainly down to the front two of Dryden and Wilkins. Jimmy’s deflected shot found Craig in the area, but his header looped onto the top of the bar. Then with only five minutes played, Dryden was through on goal, and his first effort was blocked by Molesey keeper Chuck Martini. The rebound was slotted past him, but Wilkins failed to put the ball in the back of the net, seemingly leaving the ball as it looked to be going in but instead it went past the post.
Hamshare, Keister and Wilkins all fired goalwards from just outside the area as Whites looked to make the pressure pay, but all three efforts sailed over the bar. Chris Wales sent a weak volley goalwards as the visitors briefly threatened, before Cloke’s header from a Hamshare free kick failed to trouble Martini.
Yet with half time approaching, the visitors took an unlikely lead. Phil Ruggles has been a thorn in the Whites’ side for a few seasons now, regularly scoring against us. And this time he collected a through ball, even though he was a couple of yards offside, and as the Whites defence stood appealing, calmly slotted the ball past Knight to the delight of the impressive number of away fans.
Whites had a great opportunity moments before the interval however, when Hamshare was fouled right on the edge of the area. Dryden took the free kick, but his effort cannoned off the bar, with Keister’s rebound header looping over.
The confidence of the players looked low at the start of the second half, and the game was very flat for the opening twenty minutes of the half, with the only chance a Wilkins header that sailed well over. Yet with 65 minutes played, Whites had a great chance to level the scores. Rogers’ cross from the left found Dryden free at the near post, and his header forced an amazing point blank save from Chuck Martini. And then two minutes later, the keeper made another save from an identical chance, this time from the boot of Dryden, to keep his side ahead.
Cloke had a weak drive on target, before Martini was punished for his continued dancing in front of the Whites fans, and was penalised for holding onto the ball for too long. The indirect free kick from 15 yards out was played to Dryden by Keister, but Jimmy’s drive was blocked by the Molesey wall.
Batt, Walker and Spice replaced the impressive Hamshare, Rogers and Dryden as Terry White moved to four up-front, but within minutes of the latest substitutions, the game was effectively all over. Craig Cloke was sent off for two bookable offences, as he fouled Daniel Sacha after picking up a booking early in the second half for dissent.
And when Sacha returned to the field after having treatment, he immediately caught Humphrey in possession on the edge of the area and slotted the ball past Knight. This sparked a mass exodus from the River End, with the only noise coming from the delirious travelling Moles.
The final ten minutes were very quiet within Crabble, and the consolation goal hardly mustered a cheer from those still in the ground. A deep cross was won by Spice, whose header looped over Martini, with the ball clearly already in the net before debutant Batt could get a touch on it. But it was all too little too late, as Whites again failed to take advantage of two of the teams above them losing.
It was a terribly disappointing day for the Whites again, as Molesey deservedly took the three points with them after taking their chances. Whites have a tough schedule of fixtures coming up with two games a week for the next five weeks, and so the side really needs to find some form if they are to keep up with Dulwich, Dartford and Fleet.
Referee: Carl Brook Assistants: Mark Cole & Graeme Ions
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