Goals: Wootten, Mbelo.

“I can sprint but I can’t jog”.  Claude Mbelo, when asked why he could not track his man, yet was able to sprint through to lash in an injury time winner.

Selection this week was a nightmare. Even when the 1st XI and Reserves were able to cobble together 24 players between them, a particularly harrowing lunch hour for Skipper Macca saw 3 cry-offs and one refusal of a call up (I understand that people see a particular team as ‘their own’, but at times the club goes before all else. I trust the selection committee will do the right thing in this circumstance). However, 3 call ups from the 3’s and 2 from the 4’s gave us 12 to travel with.

What made all this worse was that while all this was happening, one of the Skippers work colleagues (who also happens to be Weirside’s Right Back) was watching and rubbing his hands with glee.  On the way to the meet, Macca made 2 predictions – firstly, that Claude would be the last one to arrive to the meet. Secondly, that Simmo would release a torrent of expletive abuse to him at some point in the game.  Well certainly everyone was there on time (apart from Claude!!) and with some quick organisation we just managed to grab the train.

On the journey, the Morris family kept us all entertained with their deep insight and wit, Sam jealous of Jack’s prowess with the ladies, and Jack just wondering where his next fix of food will come from. The pre-match talk was all about our pressing game and getting into the oppo’s faces early doors.  We started just as the gaffer had asked – in their faces, not allowing them to settle.  We carved several early chances – Sam’s near post ball dropped to Claude who smacked it straight in the keeper’s nuts from 4 yards out, and then put the rebound over. However, we seemed to be tearing Weirside open at will, and we opened the scoring in the most unlikely of circumstances – great work on the right by Tom and Bruce worked the ball into the fast arriving Woots who beautifully opened up his body to place in the bottom corner.  Woots has been telling anyone he has come into contact about his goal, even tramps on Clapham High Road.

 As the first half played out, we had all the play, and Sam, Bruce and Tom all had chances to extend the lead. Weirside threatened little, but were afforded some joy down the left where Skips and Dan Wilding failed to get a grip of the winger. Simmo and German bossed the oppo strikers, limiting them to one chance that Smudger did well to claim, despite Johns best efforts to score an OG. At halftime we spoke about keeping up the intensity, that we were doing everything right.  We continued in the same vein, creating loads of chances, but we were up against a decent keeper and our finishing somewhat lacked. Weirside had their share of possession, but had few chances. Their perma-tanned left winger found it extremely hard to get anything of the ball, such was the depth of John’s pockets.

 However, against the run of play, Weirside equalised with 15 to go. Skips let his man get away who fed the striker. His shot was half parried by Smudge but John did his best Djimi Traore impression to trip over the ball and send it into the net – unlucky in the extreme.

Perma tan then decided to blow us a kiss as he retrieved the ball – to be fair it was nice to see him happy as most of the game he was throwing sissy fits – funny that he didn’t hang around at the final whistle to allow us to reciprocate the gesture. Simmo then got elbowed in the face, and then told Skips to *&%^ off when he tried to calm it down (2 out of 2!). By this time Jack had been introduced for the hard working Tom. This worked a treat as his great work made space for Woots to surge forward and play the perfect ball into space for the Claude to run in and roll past the keeper. So a great win – despite the last minute winner, it was no smash and grab raid – we had a good 12 shots on target to their 3.

This win takes us up to 3rd in the table, but with many teams only having played a few games, we really should not get ahead of ourselves – survival is the first goal. Next week is the Cup, so let’s finish 2010 with a flourish.

Man of the Match – So many great performances – Bruce was outstanding up front – leading the line with great strength and running (not bad for a right winger!). Tom, Dan, Jack and John all stepped up and never missed a beat, but for a dominant midfield performance, a goal and an assist it goes to Woots.

Things I have learnt from the game;

·         We have great strength and depth in the club. We need to get better players higher up the club quicker.

·         There are some real clubmen at AP who will put the club before themselves before others.

·         Sometimes availability is shocking. If you cry-off you are expendable.

·         Claude will always be late.

·         Simmo will always launch foul-mouthed tirades in my direction during games.

Team – Smith, McLoughlin, Murphy, Simpson, Egan, Wootten, Mbelo, Wilding,  S Morris, Marshall (J Morris), McMeekin.

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