South East suffered a second successive heavy defeat in the Men’s Division A Summer Cup, at the hands of a well-oiled Metro Football Club machine on a roasting North Chigwell Saturday morning.
With the game moved forward from 2pm to a 9am kick-off to avoid the soaring afternoon temperatures, this unfortunately added two more players to the list of United unavailabilities, so it was another makeshift and youthful side which stepped out to take on the seasoned hosts.
It was simple misfortune which gifted the home side the lead early on, when Brock had to stretch to cut out a cross from the right, but could only deflect the ball agonisingly past Nathan and into the net.
An unchallenged close-range header from a poorly-defended corner doubled Metro’s advantage, and a calamitous goalmouth scramble wound up in a third, before South East finally came into the game, skipper Tony latching on to Andy’s long delivery to volley home assuredly to reduce the arrears.
Metro added a deflected fourth before half time, and another three during a second half in which the visitors improved significantly, although wilted noticeably in the rising heat towards the end, when the lack of substitutes really didn't help.
As with the 1-6 reversal against Hobart United in the first round, South East were made to pay a heavy price for some basic errors. So many goals come from cheap turnovers in our own half, after which the opposition floods forward, outnumbering us and finishing ruthlessly.
It is a steep learning curve for our new team, and the kind of sloppiness which is often forgiven in social football is now duly punished by highly-clinical teams.
And, again similarly to the Hobart game, we were in the contest for 80% of the game, but it is indicative of the Southern Championship level we have moved up to that there is a very heavy price to be paid for the slack 20%.
However, it is far from doom and gloom. We have yet to come anywhere near to fielding what will probably be our first-choice line-up, and there were still plenty of strong performances to be proud of. Nathan could not be faulted for any of the goals, once again the Pullen brothers fought gamely at the back, while Andy moving back added some invaluable experience and composure during the second half. Jamie, Nick, Brock and Chris worked tirelessly throughout, while Tony led by example too, until a groin strain saw him forced from the pitch with a quarter of an hour to play.
We just didn’t have the strength or depth of squad available to cope with the heat (the car temperature gauge already read 35 as we pulled out of the car park soon after 11) or to particularly trouble a very accomplished Metro outfit, and United will need to have its full squad available for the Southern Championships opener at the end of the month.
After the final rostered game of the Social Summer Cup tomorrow, next up is our first-ever genuinely competitive senior fixture, when we take on Nelson in the qualifying round in the Lakoseljac Cup, at KGV on the public holiday Monday 11-March (10:30am).