Larkhall Athletic 0-3 Sholing

Scorers :  Brad Targett 22 & 60, Dan Mason 83 (pen)

Date: Wednesday 17th November 2021, 7:45pm – Southern League South Division 1

Venue:  Plain Ham

Larkhall Athletic: Shaun Semmens, Joseph Hillard, Jack Camm, Dale Evans, Michael Baker ©, Josh Jones, Alex Lambert (Jay Malpas 65), Matt Britton, Sam Crumb, Lewis Powell, Harry Simons (Daniel Restorick 60).  Unused subs : Geraint Baker, Aysa Corrick

Yellow Card:

Sholing: Ryan Gosney, Ryan Cluett, Jo Smith, Owen Roundell, Josh Batt, Rob Nicholls, Tomasz Gruzewski (Conor Whiteley 75), Byron Mason ©, Dan Mason, Sami Makhloufi, Brad Targett.  Unused subs : Jake Cope, Martin Buckland, Yumo Wan & Macca Hare

Yellow Card :

Referee:  Graham Pearce   Assistants: Roger Smith & George Lynch

Attendance: 115 (approx 12 Sholing fans)

Man of the Match : Brad Targett

Sholing, who were once more without several players, put in one of their best performances of the season to make it successive 3-0 victories on the road.  Brad Targett scored twice and Dan Mason hit a penalty as the impressive & energetic Boatmen moved up to 3rd in the table, make it 3 clean sheets in a row and inflict Larkhall's first home league defeat of the season.

Team News : Dave Diaper was without Dan Miller, Marv McLean, Stu Green, Charlie Wagstaffe & Mitch Byrne.  Claudio was suspended, but still made the trip to be involved in the warm up and back his teammates.  Byron went back into the centre of defence, partnered by Josh Batt.  Jo Smith, who had been getting some experience and game time in the Wessex League, came in at left back, Owen Roundell slotted into midfield and Tomasz Gruzewski went into an unfamiliar right midfield position.  Brad started with Dan Mason up top.  Ryan Gosney was making his 300th appearance for the Boatmen. 

Larkhall is always difficult place to go, literally, as the ground is built into the side of a hill and only accessed by a narrow and steep lane. Meaning, the team coach has to stop at the bottom and everyone has to walk up.  However, the welcome from the home committee was a friendly one and first time visitors, such as myself, were impressed by the feat of engineering to have a completely flat pitch dug into a steep slope.

After an even first 10 minutes, Sholing started to take control and fashioned the first chance with Dan Mason's right foot shot comfortably saved.  The Boatmen were playing the ball around nicely and at a good tempo to stretch the home side, who were thankful to their keeper on 18 minutes to deny D-Dan with a good save after a slick move.   Sholing got the reward for their good start by taking the lead on 21 mins. Proving its best to mix up the style of play, this goal came from a long kick out by Gosney that was met with a header by Dan Mason to flick it into the path of BRAD TARGETT who ahead of his marker ran in on goal and using the outside of his right foot, finished past the keeper.

Larkhall's best opportunities were ones handed to them a bit generously by the referee as he gave 3  freekicks on the edge of the box during the first half, but all of them were wasted with efforts off target, meaning the stewards with the torches and poles were kept busy trying to retrieve matchballs from the dense woods behind that goal.

Dan Mason continued to dominate the two centre halfs, turning well inside the box, but his left foot shot flashed wide.   Larkhall's best opportunity saw a a cross to the back post find an unmarked forward, but he seemed caught between trying to head or volley it and couldn't adjust to make a clean connection.   HT 0-1

Sholing didn't rest on their half time lead and immediately went hunting for more goals and a good cross from the right by Cluett was met with a downward header by Targett, but straight to the keeper.  On 53 minutes, a deep cross from the left saw Sholing with men over arriving in the box with the ball falling to Tom Gruzewski, but his lifted effort floated over.  The Larkhall keeper almost presented Sholing with a goal when his poor clearance went straight to Dan Mason who teed up Sami, but his shot was blocked and as Brad went to knock in the rebound, the keeper made up for his error with a point blank save.

Ryan Cluett's corner delivery from both flanks caused lots of problems for Larkhall and Sholing doubled the lead after a succession of corners.  Cluett's cross was cleared only as far as Owen Roundell on the right side of the area who squared it into the middle where BRAD TARGETT spun and smashed in an unstoppable shot from 15 yards.

Sholing seemed to be camped in the Larkhall final third for the next 10 minutes, hungry for more goals. Only some deflections and a couple of scuffed shots denied them extending their lead.  Brad Targett embarrased two defenders with some clever skill and raw pace down the left flank before winning a corner.   It looked like it might be another unlucky game for Dan Mason, who was denied by a brilliant save by Semmens on 71 mins, but he deservedly got onto the scoresheet with 7 minutes to go...

DAN MASON once again, turned his marker and cut into the box where he was hauled down and the referee pointed to the spot. It was the first penalty Sholing had been awarded in 14 months.  D-Dan calmly took his time and sent the keeper the wrong way, firing low into the left corner. 

Gos was able to rack up his 123rd clean sheet for Sholing and apart from catching a few crosses, didn't have to make a save as the backline, marshalled by Byron and ably supported by Josh Batt, Ryan Cluett and the impressive Jo Smith kept the home side from creating anything of note. But it was an all round top notch team performance with Owen Roundell looking like he'd never been away and working well with Rob Nicholls in the middle.  Which left Sami freedom to bring the ball forward and link up well with Tomasz, Brad & D-Dan. 

A great team performance and reward for a lot of hard work on the training ground recently.   With players hopefully returning in the next week, Diapes will have a selection headache of the good kind, but those youngsters who have stepped in and stepped up, will be hard to dislodge!  FT 0-3

Next Game : Sholing v Mangotsfield United - Southern League - Saturday 20th November 3pm

Photos courtesy of HR Media (swipe to view pics)