Aldershot & Farnham (A&F) head coach Ian Jennings couldn’t hide his disappointment after his side fell to a 3-0 defeat at home to Blackheath & Elthamians at Heath End in the South East Men’s Premier Division.

After starting the season with two wins, the Shots have fallen to successive defeats.

“It is a disappointing result – particularly after how we started,” said Jennings.

“In the first 12 minutes we absolutely carved them up and had at least eight D penetrations with the ball on the end of our stick. Our failure to find an unmarked player is indicative of how sloppy we have been at training in these areas – despite walking, talking and showing the necessary ball carrying position to be able to take full advantage of the situations we find ourselves in.

“I can’t remember the last time we failed to score at home, and even our normally very efficient penalty corner routine failed to kick in.

“The nature of the goals we let in was avoidable, and we just switched off at crucial times and forgot our roles and responsibilities when defending penalty corners.”

A&F fared well against the London club last season, keeping clean sheets in both games and taking four points from the possible six – so they were confident heading into the game that they could make amends for the loss to Sevenoaks the previous weekend.

In the first 12 minutes, it looked for all the world that A&F would do just that.

They dominated possession and Blackheath looked all at sea as A&F fizzed the ball around and piled forward at will, winning three penalty corners and entering the Blackheath D on numerous occasions.

The only thing missing from the first ten minutes was the finishing touches. The returning Scott Perry couldn’t find the opening goal from the penalty corners and A&F’s forward line were unable to make meaningful connections in the D having done all the hard work.

Then disaster struck when Blackheath took the lead completely against the run of play. A&F’s marking broke down, which left the defence scrambling.

Blackheath found the open player and delivered a ball into the D and the forward succeeded where A&F could not as his deflection trickled agonisingly into the far corner.

The bright start from the home side soon turned into panic as they lost their composure and failed to settle back into their usual style of play.

The game turned into a battle and opportunities were few and far between. Blackheath were reliant on launching aerials from the back, but found success through this route as A&F failed to mark their opponents tightly enough.

When they eventually won the ball back, A&F were too frantic in their build up and surrendered possession again by forcing the ball forward and engaging the opposition unnecessarily.

Even the half-time break failed to drag A&F out of their slump. They struggled through the game and despite periods of good build-up play, never looked like they were going to score. As A&F pushed harder and committed more players forward in search of an equaliser, Blackheath – having comfortably soaked up the attacks – started to threaten on the counter. They broke at pace and were making openings of their own before finally scrambling home from a broken down penalty corner routine to double their lead.

A&F were now reeling. Blackheath were happy to sit on their lead and carry on playing on the counter. Their tactic was effective and drew a ten-minute yellow card as Kevin McCafferty mistimed a sliding tackle.

The visitors converted from the resulting penalty corner to make it 3-0.

It wasn’t until the time spent with ten players that A&F finally showed signs of life and actually looked like scoring. It was too little too late, though, as further penalty corners and opportunities came and went for the home side and Blackheath held on to their clean sheet.

A&F travel to Lewes today (Saturday) in a bid to turn their early-season fortunes around and go into the half-term break on a winning note.

Jennings admitted there was plenty to work on at training this week before the game.

“We will continue to press home the requirements of focusing on the detail so we avoid wasted opportunities, and tighten things up in defence to get back to winning ways for the trip to Lewes,” he said.

Kevin McCafferty