The Magpies travelled to Oakwood on Friday night in a late change to their pre-season schedule for their second friendly match.
Looking to build upon their work-out against Greenwich Borough the Saturday before, the visitors got off to a swift start, moving the ball quickly through the phases of play and swiftly regaining possession whenever moves broke down. It wasn't long before this pressure paid dividends as a central free kick 22 yards out won by Michael Wood was curled into the top corner with consummate easy by Olly Gill.
It wasn't long until the lead was doubled. Wood was found down the right flank by Clyde Jacques and after creating some space he delivered an inch perfect cross for Mark Cave to delightfully guide a header just inside the far post to open his account for the evening in the 17th minute.
The rest of the half was played out with Oakwood kept at arm's length for the majority of it as The Magpies continued to switch play to good effect and hunted down the ball after a turn-over in order to set about the in-game targets that they had set themselves before kick off. As a result further good chances fell to Wood, Cave, Gill and Tom Summerfield but they were thwarted by the Oakwood 'keeper. On the one occasion that the 'keeper wasn't there to keep them out, skipper Eddie French could only blaze over from 4 yards as a flicked-on corner found him at the far post.
Half time brought about 5 changes and understandably the second half began somewhat slowly as the players settled in to the match. The hosts used this period to good effect, however, and when possession was lost inside their own half Loxwood couldn't recover the situation swiftly enough and the Oakwood #3 was able to pick his spot from 20 yards out a curl a lovely finish into the far, top corner beyond Harrison Hilfiker.
This spurred the visitors back into action and as the substitutions settled so did the pass and move game that had been used to such good effect in the first half, with Gill, Byron Napper and Harvey Enticknapp pulling the strings in the centre of the park. The Oakwood back line was playing a risky game with a high line, but for a while they managed to thwart the probing runs of Wood and Cecil Jee by just catching them offside on numerous occasions.
They couldn't, however, repel the more considered build up in the 60th minute as Summerfield and Wood combined well on the left before squaring to Gill on the edge of the box who placed a reverse guided shot in off the far post to record his second and restore the 2 goal advantage. This prompted a final cycle of substitutions and this freshening of legs soon saw the Magpies sprint out of reach.
Firstly Jee finally broke the defensive line and powered down the left before cutting the ball back behind the closing 'keeper and defenders for Cave to tap home. Then Cave added his 3rd and 4th in similar circmstances as he showed an impressive burst of pace to get beyond the back line and on both occasions he calmly rounded the advancing 'keeper before slotting home in the 83rd and 85th minutes.
This concluded a satisfying evening's work as the squad got both a good work-out as well as being able to implement the movment and passing game that has been worked on so hard by all involved.
Next up on the match schedule is a visit to Billingshurst next Friday night as the Jeffries Cup match is resurrected after a sizeable hiatus.