In this episode of Extra Time, we feature a range of goalkeepers from the 2019/20 season.
Goalies – sometimes you either love’em….or not! Of all the positions on the pitch, arguably these guys (of whom it is often said “you have to be mad to be a keeper”) are almost always at the centre of controversy. They have a difficult job as the last line of defence, whilst at the same time always being in the firing line. Fans mostly want to see their side attacking – hence inaction for the keeper, or, if the opposition get a sniff, then they expect an often cold, soaked, and partly unemployed team member to come up trumps. There’s hardly ever a halfway house, and keepers find themselves as heroes or villains, but seldom in between. Whereas outfielders make mistakes galore, these don’t tend to have the same serious consequences as when a keeper makes one.
Goalkeepers all have to go through the pre-match ritual though, and here young loanee goalie Tom Smith carries out that task before keeping a clean sheet whilst he was on the pitch in a 2-0 win against Hartley Wintney 28 September.
It was a fairly comfortable three points, and he did well when needed.
……..until, that is, we had to witness the sad sight of his being carried off on a stretcher.
With no sub keeper on the bench, the worrying sight of an outfielder going in between the sticks was alleviated due to some good defending and no less to some unexpected expertise from Toby Holmes, (seemingly in control here). The striker also justifiably claimed a clean sheet! (I suppose one frontman should be able to read another frontman’s intentions as he takes aim!)
Gerard Benfield had returned to the starting line-up, but maybe wished he hadn’t, as although seen here safely gathering a high cross, he had to suffer conceding four times in a 4-2 home defeat in October against Margate.
Happier times were to follow as the Whites gained a 2-0 victory in October over Taunton Town. On that occasion the keeper nightmare occurred at the other end as the ever popular (?) Peacocks’ keeper (the often very slow-moving Lloyd Irish – depending on the score) was beaten by his own players in a 2-0 win for Salisbury. Gerard did his bit to keep a clean sheet.
After a hard fought 1-1 draw at Merthyr when he was unsurprisingly fairly active, on 26 October he was probably as annoyed as any keeper always is to have conceded three times, as happened against Dorchester in the Trophy. He didn’t stand much chance with any of them though!
It may seem strange that after conceding another three against Hayes & Yeading towards the end of November he should pick up the Man of the Match award, but that confirmed once again that he had little chance with the efforts which went past him, and that he had earned his corn in spite of that, having ended up on the winning side after the Whites came through 4-3.
Players’ fortunes can change in the blink of an eye or, in this case, can be crushed under foot! A tough physical contest with Blackfield & Langley in December marked the end of Gerard’s season, and what I believe was the crucial moment for him is shown here as he painfully denies an opposition player.
Gerard ended up in hospital (along with Josh Sommerton), and the single point gained from the game paled into insignificance by comparison with the effects of the injury. Every cloud has a silver lining though, and it fell to Owen Howe to put on the gloves – his performance gaining him the MOM award! I’m pretty sure that neither Owen nor Toby had pretensions to be a keeper. Maybe they were “honoured” because at the time they were the tallest on the field, but they both did a job for the team.
Injuries to keepers saw the arrival of yet another one – Liam Armstrong – and if the Whites had been unlucky with injuries, they were certainly very lucky with the quality shown by their loanees. Liam was on a par with Tom Smith, and they both went a long way to confirming that it can be good to trust in youth players. Obviously loan keepers from League set-ups are with their clubs for reasons of potential, and both made a success at the Ray Mac after being introduced to the man’s game as opposed to Academy or reserve football. On this occasion the Whites overcame strong opposition from Chesham United in January, and, as is to prove the youth point, the picture shows the pre-match line up with another youth loan success, Tom Leak, alongside Liam.
Here Liam was only able to see this effort from Eoin Casey through a sea of legs, but the Whites shaded it 3-2 against the Generals!
Marcus Beauchamp, who had been absent through injury for a very long time, had only returned to action for a short time before playing in the first Trophy tie at Eastbourne Borough, and in that game made a major contribution his side’s forcing a replay with some good saves and even better handling, in spite of not having had the chance to fully regain match fitness. That was fairly obvious when the new laws had to be employed whereby a keeper could play a short ball to a colleague in the penalty area. After the replay his celebration with Ollie Knowles shows his delight at the Whites going through, and the keeper’s performance was again a major part of that.
Liam Armstrong was still under his loan agreement with us in January, and proved his worth again with some great keeping against local rivals Swindon Supermarine in mid January.
The Whites lost this game 2-0, but it could have been worse had Liam not denied Marine’s Harry Williams who could easily have grabbed a third, but a superb one on one block prevented that.
Marcus had by this time regained his fitness and became the first choice keeper. Here he is seen in action against Tiverton in a 2-2 draw…….
….and again, a week later, at Met Police where the Whites went down 3-2. In bowling the ball out he did his best to prove that possession is nine tenths of law, but the law operated by the Met held firm to get the points.
In spite of its being a fairly comfortable 2-0 over Hendon on 22 February, Marcus had to show his full range of skills – in the air…..
…and on the ground,
…but it was all worth it!
The home game against Merthyr was completed in the best possible way with three points. It remains to be seen when goalkeepers, or any other players at our level, for that matter will be in action any time soon!
All images are reproduced by kind permission of our photographers,
Michael Berkeley and Roger Elliott and are copyright, so they should not be reproduced. Please seek agreement should you wish to do so, by contacting our Press Officer Alec Hayter on firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07884 477168 when any requests can be forwarded. The Club would like to thank Michael and Roger for the images, Alec for some of the words, and Ian Pearson for his website expertise, as part of the effort to alleviate football withdrawal symptoms! Roll on next kick off!
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