'We need to learn how to win' was the summation from stand-in boss David Tropp. He's not wrong. Perhaps it's not surprising when you consider the Real Life start to the season that despite going 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 up, we still contrived to lose the game by two clear goals.
There were positives in the performance. In the first half, the team showed a determination and desire that has been all too rare on display this season, typified by a swashbuckling game from Ben Kfir who played well at right-back. Paul Franklin showed poise and composure on the ball, scoring once and making another. Franklin's like a good bottle of claret, although the thought of his wife laying in to him for being late for their anniversary lunch could have explained the extra meter per second he seemed to be clocking on Sunday. Charlie Bernstein's finishing seemed to return to a more familiar story although his fitness is starting to cause some concern for manager Jamie Beaumont. Finally Ben 'Clifford' Cahn's performance down the right was one that shows Real have added much needed strength in depth to the shallow squad.
Real Life took the lead early on when Bernstein combined with Franklin for the latter to hammer home from six yards. An evenly contested first half saw a good Faithfold team equalise half way through the half with a contested penalty following a mix up between Kfir and keeper Will Martyn. The penalty was disputed but the opportunity should never have arisen. Kfir and Martyn will not be happy with the lack of clear communication between them. Chances were at both ends in that first half. Faithfold's left winger was a threat with his dribbling and ability to stretch play with impressive cross field passes. Real's best chances came from a Bernstein header on the end of a wonderful 'Clifford' Cahn cross which former Real keeper Dave Grabiner saved well.
Skipper Ed Lewin hit the bar following a Dan Markeson/Alex Saklow combination from a long throw teed up the opportunity. 'Clifford' Cahn had a shot which stung the hands of Grabiner and may think he should have done better following a great ball in from Franklin from the left but the resulting header lacked power and direction.
At half time stand in gaffer Tropp asked for more effort and the team seemed to respond early on. When Bernstein latched on to a long ball from left-back Rob Greene, the striker lobbed the ball over Grabiner and Real were 2-1 up. But back came Faithfold again equalising. The third Life goal was a very good counter attack. Kfir played the ball into Lewin who hit a 40-yard pass to Franklin in space. He knocked the ball through to Bernstein who once again beat Grabiner with ease.
25 minutes to go, in the lead for the third time. But at that point a combination of Real sitting too deep, perhaps trying to protect their lead; Faithfold having impressive subs to bring on to stretch the game and the fitness of the Real players not being what it should meant that frankly, we were overrun. The equaliser game from a corner. Lewin will be disappointed with his clearing header which only reached Simon Beresford on the edge of the box. To be fair to the big lad, his shot was hard and true toward the bottom corner, brushing Lewin's studs on the way through as he attempted to charge down the shot. 3-3 and momentum with this stage was with Faithfold.
The other two goals came as wave after wave of attack from Faithfold yielded success.
There is concern for Beaumont as the influenital Dan Markeson limped off toward the end of the game. But the manager, beyond individual injuries and availability, has two pressing issues. One is easily fixable and involves his players taking responsibility for their conditioning and hitting that gym at least twice a week to ensure they can put in a consistent 90 minutes performance. If we played as we did for 70 minutes for the whole 90, we would have our first three points of the season.
The second job will test his managerial ability significantly. He needs to install a belief in the team so that when we are in the lead, we believe we can hold on to that position. A mental challenge as much as a physical one - and one we need to conquer on Sunday against Holy Mount Zion.