The day started optimistically. Pre-season form had been encouraging, as was the attitude of the players, with very few cry off in the friendlies, presenting me with some real selection headaches. However, after being at the meet for half an hour, it suddenly became very apparent we would be short of players. At 1:30 we had 9 players and needed to be in Barkingside for a 3o’clock kick off.
A few frantic phone calls, and a side was scratched from a surplus of 8’s players and Raoul who was at the club expecting to play for the 3’s. AT 2:00 we set off with 12 men. The traffic and directions went predictably awry, meaning we arrived at the ground at 3:00. This was not how I envisaged the beginning of the league season.
The game kicked off, and both teams looked fairly evenly balanced. AP had some good chances, most notably, Raoul from a Howarth set piece. The lone striker for Parks began to cause problems and we never really found a way of dealing with him. Parks took the lead from after a defensive mix up, and never looked back. 2 further goals followed in quick succession, leaving AP 3 down at half time.
The messages at half –time were very simple. The need to compete; to tackle, challenge, gets in the way, put bodies on the line. The team responded and a better second half performance was forthcoming. Chovka had a couple of chances, the team looked dangerous at set-pieces, and Howarth had a free kick tipped over by the keeper. Against the run of play Parks scored an absolute screamer a 25 yard volley which one simply had to stand and applaud.
In the dying moments Chjovka pulled back a consolation despite claims from Parks that he was offside. Nevertheless, his fine scoring form continues.
It was a difficult first game with lessons to be learnt all round. The desire to compete must be become apparent from the first minute of every game. The late arrival of the team clearly did not help our preparation and I will ensure personally we will not be in that position again. The second half performance needs to be the spring board we take into Saturday’s game and a plea to anyone who is selected – please inform the cry off person if you are unable to play.
Special mentions to Raoul, Randel and Aaron for helping us out last minute.
Team: Edleman, Dudnesh, Kralik, Rae, McGloghan, Foster, Johnson CRandel), Howarth (c), Aaron, Chjovka, Raoul