Boys u14 Polecats start Regional + campaign with a four-goal clean-sheet win at Oxted
By Tom Cahalane
New boys shine in opening win at Oxted, "old" hands step up.
In a game evenly matched in spells, the Polecats began their Regional + under14 Mercian League campaign with an assured performance against a competitive Oxted side. Top-drawer saves from James Carleton, unmissable in his shiny new kit, gave him a clean sheet and frustrated Oxted's efforts in front of goal.
Crisp, simple passing from Reigate Priory's boys playing together for the first time was a hallmark of the game. For the older boys, many of whose former teammates have moved up to under 16s, it was a mature performance. For the new under 13s, it was a step up in tempo and in challenge - Charlie Higginbotham, with a debut goal, Oliver Tarrant, in defence and Patrick Brown in an unfamiliar role in midfield.
The goals came from quick movements, starting with our quietly efficient defence unit of Sonny Hopkins, Jasper Spurden, Jamie Shuttleworth and Oliver on many occasions stemming Oxted's attack with shrewd positional play and simple but well executed blocks or jab tackles, prising the ball free. We exploited our speed in attack as our midfield (Jack Mehmood, Sam Parker, Owen Hunt, Patrick and Jude McRobbie), feeding Barton Carter's lightning runs on the wing and Charlie and Ronnie Cahalane's nimble movement in and around the D to unzip Oxted's able defence. A real team effort - four goals scored by four players: Charlie debut goal was sheer class; Ronnie, with a sublime individual goal; Patrick sprinting onto Ronnie's pass, for a simple tap-in; and Sam, quickest to a rebounding ball in a crowded D following a swooping run at a short corner.
The performance and teamwork were hallmarks of the game. From a coach's perspective, it was a pleasing to win while recognising there are areas for improvement, such as working harder to retain and use possession, some unfamiliarity with positions to address and the need to be quicker to move the ball on. So Friday will be a chance to work on improvements. And looking at the boys who played in the development game at Horsham, there is a deep pool of growing talent in this year group.