Scorers: Hughes3(2pens), Williams , Bruce

After the heroics of last week we returned to the league fixtures with a toughie against BofE. The pitch looked great but with a strong crosswind at the Racecourse it was going to be tricky.

We set up with Steve Edelman in goal and a modified back four of  Tom, Fevzi, Stuart Johnson and Old man Jonesy. In the midfield were Adam on the left and Max on the right. Jason Smith returned to midfield with captain for the day Stonewall Jed. Up front Jay Hughes started with Shane sitting in the hole. Ziggy and Darren Palmer filled the bench.

We started really well with Jay stinging the keeper’s hands in the first couple of minutes after outstripping their defence. We looked good with the ball as Adam and Max gave us good width to stretch Bank across the pitch. Shane and Jay were proving a handful and it was not long before Jay broke through and slotted the ball into the top corner.

After this occurrence Bank upped their game and pressed us back with some tigerish tackling and great running. They should have equalised when their  forward broke through only to be given offside (even though he wasn’t). They finally equalised after our defensive frailties allowed a free cross into the box which we failed to deal with and their runner poked in from 2yds.

At this point our defence and midfield were all over the place and we looked vulnerable when they attacked. We gathered our breath and knuckled down again and were rewarded by Jay bolting into the area and getting tripped for a penalty. He stepped up and finished only for the ref to want a retake for encroachment (even though it appeared to be their player). Jay stepped up and hit the bar but headed the rebound up into air and towards Banks grateful keeper. Next thing the ball’s in the net after their keeper missed it. Bizarre. The great debate was whether their keeper touched the ball before Jay headed the rebound. Nevertheless we will take what were given. We fought our way with relief to half time.

With a few issues sorted out at half time we took to the field with our slender lead. Ziggy came on for the injured Fevzi. From the start we looked a better side. More compact and combative at the back and more disciplined in midfield. We were controlling the ball better which allowed more cohesive attacks. Both Tom and Jason became more of an attacking force. From one of our early corners Bank half cleared the ball, Stuart battled/wrestled the ball from their defender (everyone on the side thought it was a foul…nevermind) the ball was passed to Adam who hit a piledriver from 20yds. Bang top corner and 3-1. We now looked well in control with Bank chasing shadows and obviously running out of steam. Stuart and Jonesy at the back were solid and had erected the “Thou shalt not pass” sign. Stonewall was in the zone and snuffed out any incursions by Bank’s midfield. We were rewarded for our endeavour when Shane met a left side cross and glanced the ball in. The crowd on the sidelines were soaking up the show put before them. With such illustrious spectators as Bryan King, Mickey Beard, Mogsy and the clubs revered Chairman Tony Bent we were indeed graced. Kurt prowled the touchline twirling his cane like a blinged up Chicago pimp(to cool for a crutch apparently……in your dreams) making sure his boys were doing his bidding.

On the pitch things got better as Shane and Jay began to pull Banks defence apart. Shane on one occasion chased from halfway beat two tackles and the keeper only for the last defender to clear the line. Steve in goal was mainly a spectator apart from one hairy moment and a couple of great blocks. The fifth came when Shane shimmied into the area only to be brought down as he shot. A dubious penalty but we will take anything that’s given ….again. Jay fired home.

5-1 and job done. A good solid performance that improved over the ninety mins. Against a better side i:e Old Actonians (this week) we would probably have been punished in the first half, but that aside we dealt well with the team in front of us. I must congratulate everyone on their behaviour towards the ref, who was obviously young and doing a difficult job at this level. Whereas Bank constantly sniped and tried to bully him, we were like choir boys……I know it’s hard to believe but it’s true. Well done as well for getting nets and posts up and having a proper warm up I hope it wasn’t too painful.

It was really a game of two halves with the 2nd half performance 30% better than the first but still a little short of the 100% we expect. Individually no one really stood out although Adam, Max and Tom shade it on shear effort and Shane on entertainment. As a whole team we were much better and collectively dug in when required and expanded the game at every opportunity. Two more cup and one league game to come so lets go unbeaten till Xmas. It’s a tough challenge but one I know we can rise to.

Finally a big thank you to Max for his efforts this season. He is now heading to the Alps for six months for work (if that’s what you call it). Personally I would have stayed and played for the mighty AP………………maybe not.

3rd Team / Match Reports