CSKA Carnabys were back in in action this weekend after a 3 week winter break. In their first home fixture of the year CSKA were up against Community Football Academy, who might just have the most unimaginative club name in football.
Rested up over the festive period, there were no injuries and only the one absentee: midfielder Hiran Mistry was ruled out having to isolate after testing positive for COVID-19. Danny Chapman stepped in for him in midfield, while Andy Pettitt remained in the starting XI after an impressive performance last time out.
The opening stages of the game were wasteful, cagey and sluggish. Both teams were still shaking off their overindulgence over Christmas it seemed, as neither side managed a prolonged spell of possession or meaningful attack in the first 15 minutes. Chris McCafferty served up the game’s first big chance. Played in by a cute pass from Pettit, his first-time effort soared over the bar.
The visitors then had a golden opportunity when a Carnabys attack broke down. CFA countered with devastating speed and their striker skipped past the defence only to be brought down as he attempted to round Augustus in goal. Referee Martin Dexter pointed to the spot. But Augustus redeemed himself superbly, saving both the penalty and the follow up to keep the game at 0-0.
CSKA then broke the deadlock midway through the half. McCafferty’s corner was headed in by player/manager Jon Brice to make it 1-0.
From there CFA only grew in confidence as they controlled the possession and continued to threaten the home side with sharp and quick football. The Mods were riding their luck as the first half came to a close but eventually that luck ran out. CFA played a corner short, and then when the ball was played it took a huge deflection to find a CFA player. Their header hit the post and then Augustus, whose swift reactions weren’t quite quick enough to claw the ball away before it crossed the line.
1-1 at the interval.
The Second half saw the Mods made some tactical changes, as Pettitt and Chapman swapped places, but CSKA struggled to get in behind the defence and threaten. The best chance came after McCafferty closed down the goalkeeper and played in Danny Chapman, but the striker couldn’t get a shot away. CSKA then endeavoured for a more direct approach but to no avail, before their frustrations started to show as they got physical. Tasty challenges flew from both teams.
Arun Bhalla came on for Andy Pettitt in midfield, to try and gain supremacy in midfield. However, CFA were the ones who were superior with a series of passes and a neat finish into the bottom corner which gave them a 2-1 lead with just 10 minutes remaining.
Then, with just minutes to go, a wild long ball clearance—a lost cause, surely—was chased down by Dave Payne. The winger threw himself in front of the defender’s clearance and the ball looped over the goalkeeper and into the net. A freak equaliser in the dying minutes was probably slightly undeserved, but CSKA had battled well throughout, throwing bodies on the line with McCafferty, Gent and Walker all making noteworthy blocks throughout the game. The battling spirit allowed CSKA to remain in the game right to the end and give themselves a chance of victory in injury time. But after frustrations threatened to boil over again in the final moments, the game fizzled out and ended 2-2.
Jon Brice was voted Man of the Match after another dominant, composed display at the back and providing the opening goal.
After 3 weeks out there were signs of rust. But despite the lack of quality in the match, CSKA saw it through with a lot of grit, determination, and a slice of luck to go with it. Taking a point when it looked certain they’d get nothing is credit to a team that is not giving up on its ambitions this season. The Mods march on.