Holmesdale 2-2 Staines Town
Pre-season friendly – 8th August 2020
Match Report from Staines Town
Staines played their second pre-season friendly in the unfamiliar surroundings of Bromley FC’s Community Pitch Number Two, part of the impressive 3G complex at Hayes Lane. The opponents were also unfamiliar, in Holmesdale FC, a progressive step 6 club, whose manager, Lee Roots, is a former colleague of Staines boss Paul Barnes. The Dalers are members of the Southern Counties East League, and were well placed to secure promotion from Division One when last season was halted, thanks in part to boasting the best defensive record in the non-League pyramid. As with the midweek game, Staines used 22 players, making a complete swap at the interval. Unfortunately one of the intended starters, Monty Everett, picked up a knock while warming up, and had to drop out of the starting XI, with Sebastian Osei-Obengo taking his place, and Josh Luther stepping up from a small group who had only been intending to train. Holmesdale also used 11 subs, but chose to introduce them in waves – for the first time in a Staines game, the referee, Jordan Whitworth, had advised that he would only authorise three ‘substitution times’ per team – a new procedure that has been used in the FA Premier League since the restart. The largely ‘caged’ facility offered no shade for the small group of onloookers, as they watched Staines attack the south-western end (Bromley FC stadium end) in a first half played in blistering heat. There were no familiar names in the Holmesdale side, but oddly, one of the host-appointed assistant referees, Shae James, is a former Staines Town Academy player.
After a couple of early Staines openings did not trouble ‘keeper Nathan Edwards, the opening goal went Holmesdale’s way after 13 minutes, when Shameek Farrell let fly just outside the box with a low shot from which fizzed into the net. Staines were stung into action, with Tayo Oyebola hitting the foot of the post after a slick move and a final ball from Efambe, and then, on 17 minutes, it was William Efambe who scored a quality equaliser, controlling the ball well in the box, cutting back, and firing past ‘keeper Edwards. Both teams looked better going forward than in defence at this stage, although the shooting was somewhat wayward. On 37 minutes Holmesdale were awarded a free kick after Nathan Palmer was tripped just outside the ‘D’, but his free-kick went into the arms of Lee Wyatt. However, they were not to be denied an interval lead, and it came from another powerful Farrell finish after he cleverly worked his way into the box. As the clock ticked beyond 45 minutes, both teams had chances to score – first Oyebola being put through for Staines only for Edwards to save with his feet, and then Holmesdale counterattacking at speed with Ola Rabiu shooting against the upright.
There was a lively start to the second half, despite the unrelenting heat, and Luther came close to levelling for The Swans at an early stage. However, they had to wait until the 68th minute for Tyreke Leslie to latch onto a clever Jordan Simms pass before scoring with a powerful shot. Ismael Ismael hit the post again for Holmesdale, who were also awarded a highly controversial free kick near the penalty spot when a failed back-header into Justice Owusu’s hands was deemed to be a back-pass, but the ball was touched to their playmaker / captain James Teodorescu, whose shot was blocked.