A spate of cry-offs and a couple of no shows led us to heading over to East London with a barely comfortable 12 players. Five of those players favoured position was right back.
With only two players advising me that they favoured advanced roles and expecting Old E’s to be a strong team we picked a 4-5-1 with Harry Wilkinson, who had agreed to come back for a testimonial game for AP, in goal. Across the back four from right to left we had Harald Kreftling, debutant Brett Skinner, Pat McGlogan, and Peya Yanci started out of position at left back. In midfield, again from right to left we had another debutant Matt Hayward, Ryan Taylor, Derek Grahan, Stewart Johnson and Daniel Gyapon. Olly Tolcher fresh from his goal last week was asked to lead the line on his own. Joe Noutch started on the bench but with rotational subs it wasn’t long until he joined the action.
Old E’s did start brightly as expected. They had a blend of youth and experience and clearly had played football together for a number of years. They also appeared to have adopted the nicknames of grime artists and it was a little disconcerting to hear cries of “Benga’s”, “Dizzee’s” and “Ms Dynamite’s”.
Old E’s were definitely in the ascension but it was disappointing to concede the first goal from a set piece. A well flighted corner was met with a firm, unopposed, header and Kreftling, who was stationed on the post, was unable to make any effort to stop it.
Our brief forays forward were usually instigated by Noutch, who had come on in centre mid, linking up with Gyapon and Tolcher well. The latter leading the assault admirably throughout. Just before half time an Old E’s midfielder broke through the middle, evading challenges from Graham and Johnson and hit a hard low shot toward Wilkinson who only managing to palm the strike into the corner.
After a few tweaks with the defence and notably Hayward dropping to right back and aiding Skinner and McGlogan in marshalling the defence our second half performance was better. The midfield battled hard against their younger, fitter opponents but Gyapon and Tolcher were too isolated to be able to mount an attack with an end product.
It would have been pleasing to keep the scores at 0-0 for the duration of the second half but another superb cross into our box was met with a powerful header back across goal. The goal sparked a celebration that was prolonged and over exuberant but perhaps we should take heart that it was seemingly borne of frustration.
A disappointing result but a performance with enough positives to build on.