Pre-season Friendly, Behind Closed Doors

It’s not unusual for non-league football to have just a man and a dog watching, even more so with a pre-season friendly played out in the sweltering evening heat, but to watch Keynsham Town play in such circumstances is unusual.  Normally the Ks attract a crowd of over 100 to the AJN Stadium so this was quite an eerie experience.

Keynsham lined up for the first half with a mixture of new and familiar faces.  It was clear from the start that Jordan Metters was a good acquisition in the closed season and he linked up well with Harley Purnell in midfield.  Furthermore, it did not take him long (about 10 minutes) to get on the scoresheet when Keynsham won a free-kick from about 20 yards out in the inside-right position (anyone remember that?).  Jordan simply smashed it into the net to the keepers’ left which gave him no chance.

A few minutes later Aaron Childs made a strong run through the centre of the visitors’ defence.  His shot was pushed out by the goalkeeper and Luke Banfield, following up, shot wide.

Keynsham Town were putting some good passing moves together, you would have thought the players had been playing together all season, and Backwell were rarely threatening.  After the drinks break the visitors came out with renewed vigour, their manager must have given them a bit of a grilling, and they started to threatened the Ks goal.  However, Keynsham withstood the pressure and increased their lead before half-time when Jordan Metters broke down the right wing and put a cross into the centre which left Matt Brown with an almost simple tap in.

Backwell again pushed harder before the interval and had several potentially dangerous attacks and Ash Clark in the home goal was called upon to make several good diving saves.

Keynsham brought on nine substitutes at half-time and not surprisingly struggled to find the same rhythm as they had before the break.  It was good to see Nathan Curnock return to playing after missing almost the whole of last season with a long-term injury.

The first attack of any note in this second period was by Craig Wilson who broke strongly down the right wing but, with two players waiting for the cross in the centre, he blasted the ball over the bar.  Craig was in action again when his 20-yard shot was deflected out by the visiting custodian for a corner.  From the resulting corner kick by Alex O’Neil the only out-field player to survive from the first half, Danny Lock, had a clear header with which he made no mistake and found the back of the Backwell goal net.

Keynsham were now firmly back on top and the fluency of play we saw in the first half returned to this period of play as well.  Craig was again the assist-maker-in-chief when he deftly passed through the Backwell back line and Nathan Curnock, anticipating the opportunity, ran through, latched onto the ball and made no mistake in beating the advancing visitors’ goalkeeper.  The scoring was rounded off when a Backwell defender slipped when in possession of the ball, Jamie Noble won it and clipped a pass to Alex O’Neil who fired it home.

The crowd, if there had been one, would have gone home satisfied with this first performance of the season.  But there wasn’t one, so they didn’t.  However, John Allen and his assistant Russell Holt must have been pleased with not only the result, but the overall performance of all 20 players who took part and especially of the way that they all linked up.

Report by Mike Slucutt

Photo: Pete Ricketts