Fresh from an encouraging win against Winchmore Hill the previous week, the 8s were confident going into their final pre-season friendly against Old Actonians 6s. Various late drop outs meant that only 11 were available for the whole 90 minutes, and some last-minute formation tinkering from gaffer Simon Tolcher was required.
The first half was an even affair with neither team able to assert themselves on the ball consistently. The AP defence remained resolute against Acton’s intermittent attacks, with Tolcher adding ample cover (and the odd questionable tackle) in front of the centre backs. At the other end target man George Waldrum worked the line diligently, giving the veteran Acton back line plenty to think about. Solid work in the centre from Jack Parsons and Sam Wolfman kept the ball moving and allowed some surging wide runs from wingers Will Dudmish and Dave Potter to maintain some attacking pressure.
The half time talk was positive, with the 8s performance so far suggesting the two division gap between the teams was far from a true reflection of reality. After a mouthful of jelly babies it was back on the pitch and straight back into the action, with AP defending effectively as a unit to soak up some early Acton pressure. Acton came close early on, hitting the crossbar before AP scrambled the ball away. However this was the closest they came to a goal aside from one late strike that was saved magnificently by keeper Jamie Roberts, whose lightening reflexes saw him palm away the powerfully-struck half volley from just 10 yrds out. By this point AP were already in the driving seat however, after an early contender for goal of the season by George Waldrum. George, who showed plenty of hustle all afternoon got his reward with a stunning 25yrd effort from a wide right position, the keeper left helpless as he watched the ball sail over his head and dip just under the cross bar into the far corner of the goal.
AP comfortably rode out some late pressure in the last 10 minutes and were every bit worth the 1-0 victory come the final whistle. Big personal contributions came from Emlyn Robbins, Stephen Payne and Nigel Bagley at the back (with Nigel’s ageing, yet magnificantly sun tanned legs, carrying him through a full 90 minutes for the first time in many seasons.
Waldrum rightfully claims man of the match for that finish and his unstinting work rate throughout the contest. More importantly however this was a good team performance, and two victories and two clean sheets from the pre-season matches have given the team plenty of confidence and a great platform for the start of the season next Saturday.
Match Report: Soundy