With kits resembling a European tie between Inter Milan and Plymouth Argyle, many expected a similar result to play out. However, the final score did not reflect what was ultimately a closely fought contest between a classy Derwent outfit and a Goodricke unit whose work ethic bodes well for the rest of the season.
After an extra hour in bed, Derwent were anxious to get on the score sheet early on, which they did through fresher Rob Nicholson, who continues to impress his peers and score goals for fun as he turned in a goalmouth scramble from a corner. He terrorised Goodricke’s right-back (who shall remain nameless to not bring shame down upon his family) all day with his skill and pace. A written apology may well be in order, and Nicholson would do well to buy biros and envelopes in bulk if he carries this form forward throughout the year.
Derwent’s passing and movement was great to watch, with Joe Easter providing the creative spark in the middle of the park and unleashing the punchy attacking trio of Trint, Fotheringham and Bew, each coming close on a number of occasions. However, Goodricke were content and capable of soaking up the pressure.
Despite their great organisation, Goodricke struggled to find many outlets through which to express their attacking intent. At times they leaned heavily on fresher Billy Bruce, who often looked dangerous, but was ultimately isolated in a midfield swamped by Derwent.
To finish the first half, Goodricke’s Sullivan was dispossessed by Bew, who found Trint on the edge of the box and forced a good save by Woolley. Derwent went into the break in a commanding position, winning the crucial midfield battle which allowed them to attack quickly whilst maintaining an imposing defensive backbone.
After a couple of half-time substitutions and a formation alteration, the question could be asked that Derwent shouldn’t have messed with a winning first-half formula, after a quick Goodricke break provided Matt Jeffery the opportunity to deftly chip the ball over Derwent ‘keeper Felix Aylett from the edge of the area, and into the gaping net to the shock of onlookers.
The superb finish was exactly the boost that Goodricke needed, galvanising the team as they pushed on, looking to snatch the game from Derwent. After a few more shaky minutes, Derwent regained their composure, much to the disappointment of my treacherous editor who seemed to value a headline-grabbing upset more than a victory for his own college. A great challenge just outside the six yard box from Goodricke’s captain Aaron Sullivan denied Josh Bew the chance to put Derwent back on top as they started to address the lack of width that had encroached upon their second half performance.
Ryan Gwinnett was the next to come close, having a goal ruled offside after Bew craftily lifted the ball over the static Goodricke defence. A crunching tackle inside the box on Trint and a cool penalty from Bew later, and Derwent were back on top. This took the wind out of Goodricke’s sails and Derwent capitalised, with Fotheringham cutting back in on the right, before curling the ball into the top left corner, pinging in off the post and bar. Nicholson’s re-introduction after a breather was short-lived, breaking his boot in the process of beating his man and putting the ball across the face of the goal with Bew arriving just in time for a tap-in that secured the victory for Derwent. Bew had a consistent ninety minutes, holding the ball up well, and scoring the goals that gave Derwent breathing space towards victory.
Goodricke’s captain Aaron Sullivan, felt hard done-by: “the boys played out of their skins today, but heads went down after I gave away the penalty that allowed Derwent back into the game. We now have our hardest games [having already played Halifax, James and now Derwent] out of the way, so we can kick on to try and achieve 4th or maybe 3rd place as we look towards making the play-offs.”
Derwent captain Ryan Gwinnett seemed relieved: “We had a strong team out today, but we didn’t seem to click at the start. However, we showed glimpses of how good we are, a bit disappointed we didn’t score more.” A member of the Derwent bench had an alternative insight: “A great, but uniquely frustrating group of players.” Whether this is the case or not, even at this stage of the season, Derwent appear to be the dominant force this year, with depth of squad and some outstanding attacking talent.