AP’s finest went into battle against OE’s with Manager, Clifton White (aka Big Bad Bukus) off on a jolly this week, and for Skipper Paul Jannece it was more of a battle than it should have been getting some to arrive on time or even turn up. Players in question sort it out, as being prepared is half the battle. This was a big game for us, as a victory would provide added belief that we have nothing to fear in this Division.
Late arrivals meant a shuffle the pack was necessary, so we started with a 4-5-1 formation with Sly up top being supported by Richie. The first half was one to be forgotten, neither team got out of first gear, we at least tried to play football but our passing and movement was not at its best. OE’s lumped the ball up for their big man to knock on for their nippy right winger to get in behind us, on the whole apart from once this failed. Negatives for us, was that too often failed to give Leslie and Richard quality balls out wide, and our short passing wasn’t good enough to give us ball retention. For the most part both keepers were spectators in the 1st 45minutes.
The 2nd half was a different proposition, we knew there was nothing to fear and took the game to them from the off. The quality of our passing improved and we started wanting the ball. Defensively we were solid, and cut out the errors, in midfield Shaun dropped deep to pick the ball up and started to orchestrate our moves, if only he was 100% fit! Richard Hyde got through loads of work out wide, although Leslie was not seeing much of the ball, he was always a threat. We deservedly took the lead 10 minutes into the 2nd half, a great passing move from right to left, saw a marauding Lee Carlin arrive on the left edge of their box to curl a beauty into the far corner for 1-0.
Just as well we hadn’t taken Lee off, as he had asked because he had a bad case of the trots after having one of those specially prepared meals by the girlfriend the night before! After taking the lead we then created chances which should have seen us comfortably win the game. The first opportunity fell to Janno, following a scramble in their box, 8 yards out with the goal at his mercy the shot lacked power and was cleared on the line.
We then had a clear chance with a header, can’t remember who, but the ball was again blocked by some desperate OE’s defending. Our third chance to make the game safe, again fell to Janno who to be fair did well to burst into their box and having got the ball past their keeper but wasn’t able to get it down for a clean strike and a defender on the line smuggled it off the line to safety. Janno was telling me just before the game how good his shooting was, as is my way I disputed this and now only wished he could have made me eat my words!
With Gunes and Smith on for Carlin and Hyde the game became stretched from end to end as legs tired. The last 20 minutes, OE’s relieved to be still in with a shout, got a foothold and with our tracking of their midfield not what it should be they created a couple chances. Martin in goal was able to deal with anything on target, but they put one over the bar from a good position. From the sideline, we could sense they might sneak a undeserved point and so it proved.
With the 90 minutes up, they pushed everyone forward, got possession in our third and a low shot was pushed aside by Martin but the rebound was pounced upon by their centre half who’s shot was almost saved but found its way into the net. The disappointment when the final whistle went a minute later was there for all to see. We should have won comfortably, but let two points slip away. Overall the whole team played well 2nd half, and the lesson about killing teams off will be learnt. Let’s be up for the local derby at the Vampires next week.
Alex Paterson was excellent at the back, didn’t put a foot wrong all game and was deservedly our MoM.