I came to see this post lockdown tournament match at the Steve Cook Stadium, Gravesend, on a hot Saturday afternoon, with the sun baking the rain that had fallen on the ground for the previous two days.
The ground was really thoughtfully put together with a range of covered seating areas and refreshment, bar and toilet facilities for fans. The music played in the stadium and the refreshment menu reflected the Punjabi origins of the British Sikhs who had founded and established the side back in 2003. The pitch at the Steve Cook Stadium, is natural grass and looked to be in great condition with the recent heavy rain, combined with today’s sun, having a great effect.
The tournament league table, to date, showed the importance of this game, with Chatham Town and Punjab United lying in second and third places respectively. A win for Chatham would move them 4 points clear of Punjab United, with three to play, while Punjab United could inflict some real damage to Chatham’s chances of making the final, with a home win.
Chatham started the match on the attack. Twice in the first five minutes they hit the Punjab United woodwork, once from the left and then the right.
It continued to be all Chatham, until the 22nd minute, when the Punjab United number 14, deliberately fouled the Chatham striker, as he went through on goal. After a little thought the referee held up a red card having considered the striker to have been through on goal, with a clear scoring chance.
The game then came alive, with Punjab United pushing forward. The pressure paid dividends as, on 34 minutes, Chatham’s number 5, Hayes, was sin-binned, for abusive language, after a challenge from a Punjab United striker that he took umbrage to.
Punjab United created a couple of chances before the break, but the sides went in all level at 0-0.
After the break, Chatham Town came out with a new approach. On 48 minutes they took the lead with a Bradshaw header, after a neat cross from the right, by Bodkin.
Punjab United came back at Chatham and had a chance that their number seven, Gildea, narrowly missed on 56 minutes
Both sides went all out for a goal and there was evident tension as both sets of defenders made errors on the ball.
Bodkin fired home from the left to make it 2-0 on 75 minutes and ease some of the Chatham nerves.
Two minutes later, the Chatham captain, Jack Evans, finished from close range, to make it 3-0 and to seal the victory.
Both sides took the chance to bring on a range of young substitutes, in the last ten minutes and there was still time for Chatham to miss a simple chance with what would have been the fourth.
At the final whistle the game ended Punjab United 0 Chatham Town 3. The crowd of 300 had seen a well contested match, in a good venue for football. Chatham also certainly secured their place in the Post-Lockdown tournament final with this victory, needing to now secure just another point from their final two games.