If he can navigate a Lancaster bomber over the Rhine and back, amidst AA fire and blazing Messerschmitt, finding Old Easthamians would be no trouble for Ian ‘ Bomber Command’ Simmo. The same cant be said for Mark Carter, who treated Ben and Harry Wilson to a tour of the Olympic village, just turning up in time for kickoff.
The pitch slope and the driving wind set up all the makings of a clichéd game of two halves – which it was. We started slowly, gifting Old Es a chance after 10 seconds. It was tough going against the wind and slope, with passes not finding feet and a bit of a lack of appetite for the fight. Old E’s took the lead with a long slap from their bulky centre half carrying in the wind down the left channel. Their winger crossed and their striker used his gas to nip ahead and poke in. We had no real response, demonstrating a general apathy for the game and Old E’s winning most of the first and second balls. Goalie Mike (Irish Mike’s stand in) made 2 or 3 excellent saves to keep us in the game however we couldn’t keep the tide out and Old E’s scored a second.
Just before half time Sly, incensed by a dressing down for the ref for no apparent reason, made a thunderous challenge in the box to stop a third and set the tone for the half time team talk. The slope and wind would make it easier but we had to be up for the fight and battle a bit more. Ben came on for Les and the team started the second half with a much better attitude. Karnell chased down lost causes and the pressure led to a mistake with the ball spilling to Mike who tucked it away for our first. We then totally dominated the match and were chasing the equaliser when we shot ourselves in the foot by giving away a sloppy goal. Back to a two-goal deficit.
It says much about the character of this team that we got our heads up and got back into the game. We knew if we kept going chances would come and the second was a well taken free kick, flighted in by Hubbard which Karnell met and headed into the top corner. Harry and Toib came on with fresh legs to chase down the equaliser which came soon after. It is without doubt the hardest shot I have ever seen hit in a match and was described by Sly as ‘an old school banger’. T had the ball on the edge of the box, back to goal, turned and smashed a left footed shot straight past/through the E’s keeper who didn’t even move. Phenomenal goal and surely the goal of the season so far.
At this E’s visibly deflated and we were after the winner. Excellent pressure from the AP forwards caused the big lad at the back to fluff his lines. Harry nicked the ball off him and coolly stroked it in the net for us to take the lead for the first time, 4-3!
There was still time for the ref to get in on the act, accusing Tom of unsporting behaviour by keeping the ball in the corner and giving a free kick to E’s. He eventually blew the whistle however and AP left with three points.
A great comeback by the whole team with an improved performance in the second half. As per Keith’s text, thats how we should start games and be up for the battle from the first whistle. Man of the match goes to Sly, who was colossal in the middle of the park, didn’t stop harassing the oppo and set the tone for the comeback with a monster goal-saving tackle.