Match Report
Radley College 3rd XI vs  Tonbridge School
On: Saturday, 03 Feb 2024
Venue: at Home

Report on a non-League match ‘friendly’ against the ever strong Tonbridge. The 3rds were one of 8 teams competing today at senior level. Still a bit sore after losing to the 4ths 1-0 in training on Thursday, the team regathered in the operations room (MRJ’s Oval Office) for pre-match planning and hit the pitch in the right frame of mind. There was quite a job to be done – try to find a way to defeat a team that had beaten the Harrow 3rd XI 3-0, after the Harrow 4ths beat the Radley 3rds 4-2.

The team started the match unusually switched on and sharp. From the outset this was clearly going to be a top game, and it didn’t disappoint until the very end – the 75th, or 76th … or 77th minute. Tonbridge were strong, and the 3rds had to be quick and composed when on the ball. They delivered with quick distribution, better use of space, and at times some expansive play, including a ‘cross’ from Deram near the halfway line to well inside the box for Ruddy to pick up and cause chaos in the defence. Perhaps more of this would have been profitable...

Wade had a couple of early chances, and charitably put the ball beside the net (uncharacteristically for him this season). Early attacks looked promising, and the pressure finally produced a result in the form of a missed back pass that seemed to go through the goalie. Towards the end of the second half Tonbridge started to move the ball a little better, but the return of the defensive four (Vickers, Barlow, Waller & Deram) held well – with excellent communication – there were no easy paths for the attack this week. Deram was particularly effective at disarming his opposite, albeit at some cost to his knee.

In the second half Radley had to play into an increasingly strong wind and with the breeze behind them Tonbridge picked up their pace and started linking more effectively. The Radley defence held strong and led to an increasing number of counter attacks through the second half. Balls out to Ruddy, from Vickers, Louis ‘the Rhino’ Jacobs, Campion, Coke, et al., generated the most traction. Ruddy had the measure of his opposite and even produced a slick dummy that resulted in his opposite man shoulder charging into thin air before sprawling into the mud. Wade was up against a very strong and skilful defensive unit, but still created chances when the ball came through from new man Campion the Composed. Always willing to take a touch, pause and create, he had to fight hard in the midfield, and with considerable success. A good additional to the 3rds spine, supporting the equally impressive Lawrence who blasted around the midfield as ever, and took more than his share of heavy tackles (Deram too). Tonbridge were also quick to smother Tiang, who also fought well for possession, feeding through to Nokes who found his opposite number was often struggling with timing resulting in a few penalties to Radley. Compostella stepped up from the fourths and was superb in goal, organising his troops at the back, committing to two top notch saves from corners in the first half, and he dealt with the breeze with considerable aplomb in the second half. His goal was finally breached when a massed Tonbridge attack fell onto the back of a potent cross and somehow pushed the ball through for an equaliser and a final score of 1-1 somewhere in the 75th, or 76th, … or 77th minute

This was the best performance of the team by some margin this season. Sharp, strong on the ball, better awareness of space and teammates, communications up a gear, and a great fight for possession from everyone. A proper team effort, but for his creative and composed work in the midfield, the Man of the Match has been awarded to new boy Campion.