“I was immensely proud of the performance.”
......order as many of this age do part-time work and, of course, everywhere is extra busy at this time of year.
Anyway, we managed to scramble a squad together to travel to Compton Park to take on Cogenhoe United for the second time this season, having already triumphed there in the league – ironically then with a weakened squad as well.
We welcomed back Lloyd Blanks, whose last game was at Cogenhoe over a year ago and now has virtually a re-constructed knee, as well as Callum Dench, who played for us at the beginning of last year before deciding to concentrate on his college football.
We also had under-16 lads Callum Williams, Harry Arundel and Lewis Milne in the squad and were forced to use Lewis Starmer in a very unfamiliar right-back role and Callum Herring on the left-side of midfield.
Despite all the `square pegs in round holes` and a side shorn of regulars Ben Fitzjohn, Alex McGeehin, Harvey Bland, Dan Owen, Frankie Hayes, Dante Memoli, Harvey Lewis and James Lea for a variety of reasons, we did superbly well.
My original plan was to use Lloyd Blanks sparingly in his first game back, but he ended up playing all-bar about 15 minutes either side of half-time, while Callum Dench – who has grown about a foot upwards and outwards since he last played for us! – was a constant threat to the home defence and held the ball up really well.
With Sam Curtis his normal reliable self in goal, we had a back four – unusual for me – in which skipper Jaydon Taylor, Jordan Holmes and Callum Harley were excellent and Lewis Starmer, pressed into being an emergency right-back, also performing extremely well (apart from picking up a silly booking near the end for kicking the ball away!).
In front of them, James Bishop was the glue that knitted the midfield together and he was immense, albeit it`s rare that he doesn`t perform well for us.
Alongside him youngsters Harry Arundel, Callum Williams and later Lewis Milne battled hard and competed well against a much more experienced Cooks midfield and on a tiringly heavy pitch too.
Wide lads Callum Herring and Lloyd Blanks worked up and down and the former had arguably his best game in a Wellingborough Town shirt, certainly as far as this season goes, while Lloyd exceeded expectations as I mentioned earlier.
And up top, Callum Dench`s powerful running and excellent hold up play was rewarded towards the end of the first half when he got on the end of a Herring free-kick and flicked the ball past the home keeper.
Before that, the Cooks had a couple of good opportunities that were wasted, and Sam Curtis made one decent save, but overall, our good defending meant he wasn`t overly stretched all game.
The second half was even better as we restricted the hosts to very few clear sights at goal.
And although chances were few and far between at either end in the second half as the heavy pitch took its toll, along with some refereeing decisions that didn`t take the conditions into account, we increased our lead midway through the half when Callum Harley took a free-kick wide on the right and swung the ball in with his left foot and it went straight in with several defenders and forwards failing to get a touch to the ball.
When we won at Cogenhoe in the league earlier this season I said to the lads afterwards how proud I was of their battling performance, and this was perhaps even better, given the missing players.
It will certainly make my Christmas a little happier!
Updated 15:43 - 22 Dec 2017 by Steve Whitney
Sam Curtis: Lewis Starmer, Jaydon Taylor, Jordan Holmes, Callum Harley; Lloyd Blanks, James Bishop, Callum Williams, Harry Arundel (Lewis Milne), Callum Herring’ Callum Dench.