Scorer: Kenga (80)
After a great performance and an unlucky result last week, we were able to name a similar if not unchanged squad for this week – Dan Gunyon coming back into the team and Michael Bardgett coming in to replace the Caledonian bound Martin Smith.
Finchleians pitch is normally good quality, if not a little small. However, the middle of the pitch similar to a potato field, as it was bobbly and there was barely a blade of grass. The message before the game from the gaffer was that he demanded a response after the defeat last week. Skips added that a win today would see us on 20 points, which was the target set for safety at the beginning of the season – only when you guarantee safety in the division can you start to look for promotion.
We started the game brightly – we forced 4 corners in a row, which all came close. Soon after big Zack was able to ghost past his fullback and fire a dangerous cross which saw the OF’s defender handle in the box. Stone cold penner. Egan stepped up to balloon one onto the bar. We have had 5 penalties this season and scored one. No wonder we have a goal difference of minus 6. Despite this setback, we continued to make the running. Dan Hunt soon after saw a shot hit the post, and Janno, Sam and Zack all forced good saves from the keeper. At the other end, German and Simmo (who was shamefully hungover at the beginning of the game!) were dealing well with the OF’s lone front man. Skips and Nugzy were being kept busy at fullback, as the OF’s tactic that predominated was the long switch ball from fullback to the opposite winger. We finished the first half a little bit more ragged, still making chances, but we had some hairy times at the back when Skips was just able to track back and take the ball of the toe of the OF’s striker with the goal at his mercy, and then Bardgie in goal made an outstanding one-on-one save that he really had no right to do so. Bardgie’s kicking was also second to none.
The message at half time was to keep going. The Skipper then perplexed half the team by using the term ‘profligate’ (dictionaries out regular readers) in his talk, and that you miss ‘100% of the shots you don’t take’. Top cliché but it seemed to do the trick, as we were not exactly shy a shooting in the second half. Despite, this, we started quite raggedly again. Passes going astray , again the industry outweighed the quality. Egan showed just how deadly he was in front of goal by putting a header over when he was unmarked from 6 yards out. Dan Hunt came close with a header from a corner, and Zack nearly scored a peach of a goal when he ghosted by the 3 players and nearly squeezed one in from the narrowest of angles, forcing a save from the keeper. Gaffer Morris made 3 changes, with Elion, DOL and Moruzzi coming on for Big Zack, Dan Hunt and Skips respectively, also made the bold move of switching to 442, and this almost bore fruit immediately, when DOL was set free by Dan Gun, rounded the keeper and slotted the ball past him, only to see the oppo defender get back and make an excellent clearance of the line. Nugzy’s pace served us well yet again soon after, when he got back to make an excellent challenge as a shot was about to come in.
We finally broke the deadlock with 15 to go when Sam put Elion through who dinked a beautiful chip over the keeper. It was a really measured finish and was no more than our hard work deserved. Inevitably, OF’s came at us in the closing stages but we defended manfully, and even had several chances to kill off the game on the break, Sam Morris guilty of one particular glaring miss! However, with seconds remaining, the otherwise excellent ref awarded OF an indirect free kick inside the box because Sam shouted as the OF tried to take a shot – cue lots of panic and frantic organising, but in the end the shot was very tame and into the wall.
So a 1-0 win at OF’s – very satisfying. Next week is Old Parks at home, another team we rarely get change out of. They humiliated us 7-0 at their place and everyone pulling on the tangerine jersey next week should be looking to lay that ghost to rest.
Man of the Match – Pete Nugent – Never stops running and turning into a top quality fullback, even though he runs like a crab.
Team – Bardgett, McLoughlin (Moruzzi 70), Egan, Simpson, Nugent, Jannece, Gunyon, K O’Leary, Morris, Amankwah (Kenga 60), Hunt (D O’Leary 65).