Saturday 8th April 2023 - 15:00 - Combined Counties League Premier South.
Raynes Park Vale came to this match - the penultimate Saturday home game of the 22/23 season buoyed up by a gripping victory over The Channel at high-flying Jersey Bulls and a good crowd came down over the Easter break to watch this game against 16th placed Sheerwater on a beautifully sunny South London afternoon. Early signs were that this might be a bit of a slog with corners given away at both ends. Brad Sweeney went close on 9 minutes and the visitors also provided a scare on the 19th. Then on 26 minutes, Archie Harland-Goddard showed why he is such a popular choice at RPV as he put away his fifth of the season, slotting to the keepers left after a melee in the area to put Vale a goal to the good. Harland-Goddard's goal seemed to breathe life into the Vale team and, on the 35th, Jordan Gallagher whipped in an in swinging cross that took a delicate touch from Brad Sweeney to put it away at the far post for his sixth league goal of the season. The first half finished rather as it had started with neither side imposing themselves dramatically but, with two goals to their credit Vale went in at the whistle with a healthy spring in their step. The second half started swiftly with an early goal on 47 minutes with a Jordan Gallagher shot saved by the Sheers keeper only for Charlie Penny to pounce and hook the ball in for Raynes Park’s third of the game and the Number 20’s 12th of the season. On the 49th minute a penalty to Sheerwater saw the Vale pegged back to 3-1 but the three-goal cushion was restored on 68 minutes when a Dan Moody cross from the right was met by Harland-Goddard again from seven yards out. The shot was parried by the visiting keeper but only after it had crossed the line. Reece Hannigan stepped up to blast the ball into the net to make sure but the goal remained Harland-Goddard's to bring his season goal-count to six! A flurry of Vale substitutions saw Ethon Archer, Timmy Obisanya, Ben Dyson, Cal McAllister and Jermaine Green all join the fray for the last 25 minutes. With the game heading to a comfortable conclusion Billy Bishop in the Vale goal was deemed to have taken out a Sheerwater attacker near the edge of the box. A dreaded and possible red card for the Vale stopper was avoided with Bishop picking up a yellow and Sheerwater getting a free kick. The set-piece was nicely lifted over the wall to a waiting Bishop who parried the ball away, only to be poached by Sheerwater for their second of the game on 78 minutes. Despite the win there was some recognition that conceding two goals was a sign of some defensive jitters but, with no injuries, no reds and high-spirits there was a feeling of ‘job done’ in the Raynes Park camp as the Final whistle blew and the teams left the pitch.