Goals – OG, Amankwaah.
So to the last pre-season friendly before the big kick off, and AP were due to face what on paper was their biggest test, entertaining SAL Intermediate Division 1 and Intermediate AFA Cup Champions Old Actonians.
AP were able to name a strong squad, with Moruzzi, Fabb, Amankwaah, Morris, O’Leary and Zweck. Before the game, the Gaffer spoke of importance of finishing preseason strongly, and making sure that the good work of the last 2 games was not undermined by a poor performance – we had to keep pressing the opposition, but he implored us to be patient on the ball, and not rush into passes.
We started really well, patient and pressing the game. We limited Old A’s to feeding off scraps up top, and were able to force a couple of decent saves out of the keeper, namely from Carter and Zweck. We took the lead when a long throw by McLoughlin was worked out of wide by Zack Amankwaah to Sam Morris who popped a ball into the danger zone for the Old A’s defender to have a flashback to the playground and lash past his own keeper 1-0 AP.
As we approached half time, Matt was set through and drew a clear foul out of the keeper, winning us a penalty. Steve Glynn stepped up confidently, but his measured penalty hit the post. For the next 5 minutes before half time, we lost our shape, and invited pressure.
At half time, The Gaffer got us refocused on what we need to do – press the game, take our time and do the right thing. We started quite slowly, and after about 10 minutes conceded – we did not pick up at a corner (this needs to be addressed lads!!) and the free player headed towards goal, where a mixture of Ben Carter and Chris Simpson stopped the ball, but a brave oppo striker got a boot in the face to head home.
This was the warning shot that we needed, and we lifted our game again. We regained the lead again when Zack and Ben interchanged neatly – Ben squaring the ball for Zack to bang home a striker of consummate quality to mark his first goal for the club – a well deserved goal to cap an excellent performance.
We had a few other chances, but as we tired we let Old A’s into it, and the last 10 minutes they turned the screw and really had us on the rack, but some heroic defending and a match-winning last gasp save by Chris effectively won us the game.
All in all, another good performance, but let’s not get carried away boys – we need to sort out our set pieces, both attacking and defending, and we need to work on our fitness to see out the last 15 minutes of games! We are not far away from having a team that can compete at this level, and although players may be disappointed to be left out of the team, we need to make sure that we do our damnedest to get back into the squad. Also beware – failure to be available could lead to you losing your place – if you are not available someone else just as capable will be!
Man of the Match – Kieron O’Leary – a great shift in midfield – good to have you back mate.
Team: C Simpson, Nugent, I Simpson, McLoughlin, Moruzzi, Carter, Glynn, O’Leary, Amankwaah, Zweck, Morris, Fabb, Popula,.