November 5th 2022. As Josh Gallagher’s management team, the players and supporters travelled down the A3 to the Reg Madgwick stadium on a gloomy Saturday afternoon all could have been forgiven for a mood of quiet confidence. Unbeaten since the calamitous 2-3 home defeat to a determined Guildford City in September RPV were on a roll as the hit the road into Surrey but, there were some who knew what Cobham can do on the day and tempered their confidence with caution! With Archie Harland-Goddard nursing an injury Jermaine Green took up the vacant position at right back. The front three of Aaron Watson, Charlie Penny and Ethon Archer set out their attacking stll from the very start and the teas were still steaming when a looping ball over the Cobham box was headed back in. Ethon Archer’s head saw the ball rise up and Charlie Penny control the ball on his chest, swivel and put the ball into the Cobham net from 7 yards out to not only put Vale ahead but also to bring him into Vales top goal-scorer’s position! The shine slightly came off the atmosphere when a poorly judge Vale backpass left keeper Billy Bishop stranded and allowed Cobham to pounce, picking up the stray ball and slotting away into the Vale goal. However the scoreline was reset minutes later when a trademark Ethon Archer run down the left saw the Cobham right back left floundering before whipping in a beautifully weighted cross that was met, spectacularly by Charlie Penny with a side-footed running volley.
With the half-time whistle practically at the ref’s lips another opportunity for The Hammers, who had brought a new intensity to their game in the final 15 minutes, drew a spectacular double save from Bishop to see a lively first half end at 1-2.
The second half saw Louie Downey, who had picked up an injury in the first half, substituted for Brad Sweeney who then went to on to pick up a 10 minute sin-binning for some unnecessary verbals but, with Vale comfortably in control, they weathered the temporary disadvantage and, soon after the Vale man’s return to the pitch Raynes Park extended their lead via a magnificent goal from Ethon Archer. In the afternoon gathering gloom Archer, who had moved into a slightly deeper 10 position, picked up the ball in midfield about 27 yards out, took one look through the Cobham defence and blasted a shot over their heads and into the top left of the Cobham goal leaving the Hammers’ stopper and back four looking frustrated and bemused although, in fairness, it was a goal of such sublime quality that no blame can be attached to the home team. A couple of late substitutions saw Reece Hannigan and Jaan Stanley come on for Ethon Archer and Azza Watson and mere minutes after the subs had entered the ply the whistle blew and the quiet confidence in the Val camp was justified. Coming in the days before a double-header against in-form Colliers Wood and against a similarly well-performing Redhill this win at Cobham, although ultimately relatively routine, showcased a team of individual talents as well as a team that was clearly getting stronger and more cohesive. Jermaine Green, Ethon Archer and Billy Bishop and Aaron Watson stood out with great performances but, ultimately, this was a win for a team that is really starting to purr and the post match mood and another 3 points brightened up that trip back up the A3.
Cobham 1-3 Raynes Park Vale