Goals : Nicholau, Jones
The Middlesex/Essex Senior Cup threw up a trip to Chiswick and First Division side Polytechnic. Unbeaten thus far this season, the more high brow of us threw around a bit of talk about metaphorical yardsticks which everyone was quite happy with. There was however no mention of ‘form books going out the window’ which given the nature of the competition I found slightly disappointing.
We lined up with one of the strongest squads of the season, nothing major to report from the dressing room. Martin ‘moves like Hucknall’ Egan had evidently been listening to Maroon 5 on repeat on route, Matt Kelly was trying to impress people with his new i-phone that we all saw last week (same time again next week then Matt) and Lee Carlin arrived dressed as a Swedish interior designer in the name of ‘banter’.
The gaffer made it quite clear to us that the first 20 minutes would dictate the tone of the game, so instructed us to play with intensity and get in amongst them early on. We did just that and having established ourselves in the game we set about playing our best half of football of the season. Dan Jones was breaking up absolutely everything through the middle, with Dan O’Leary dictating the tempo of the game from deep. Our front four were linking superbly and Poly were denied any time or space in quality areas.
After 30 minutes the pressure told, a neat move involving Kelly and Kenga ended with Chris Nicholau firing across the keeper from a tight angle. 1-0 Park and well deserved. Despite the lead, Lee and Kier decided to have a little paddy at each other in a quest for perfection. I didn’t hear the full exchange but Kier finished the interaction with ‘and you f****** know it as well’. As a neutral bystander I certainly thought that had emphatically clinched the argument (only later in the clubhouse did it transpire that Lee had no idea what this was referring to). It was a snapshot of what this AP side is all about, angry, quite ginger and striving for excellence.
More of the same was the instruction from the gaffer come half time and although they were always going to come back at us, we knew the upset was there for the taking. This became all the more likely about 10 minutes in, a low corner was whipped in by Kieran O Leary, Kenga cleverly turned it on and currently the seediest looking man in the SAL, Dan Jones nodded home from close range. We could have potentially added to this further with a couple of delightful Kenga crosses lacking the finishing touch.
Poly did come back at us as expected and closed the gap with 20 minutes to play. We gave away a penalty which was duly converted to bring about a nervous finish.
All credit to us, with the first hour of the game showing our creative abilities we showed some very different qualities to see off what was left of the 90. Poly had a fair few big lads and unsurprisingly went very direct, requiring a whole host of headers, blocks and tackles to stave of the danger. The back 4 protected Simpson well and his handling under pressure avoided a late equaliser and therefore any subsequent woodwork kicking antics.
A great win for the tangerine army and we progress to the next round. In my opinion our best performance of the season, largely this term we have rolled over lesser sides with decent football and ground it out against the better teams. Whilst we were excellent off the ball Saturday, it was great to see us play some good stuff against decent div 1 oppo. Time to get the metaphorical yardsticks out again for Old Parks in the AFA cup on Saturday….
MOM : A really good team performance. Ellion tore their left back to pieces but it has to go to Dan Jones for dominating the midfield battle.
Team : Simpson, Gunyon, Patterson, Egan, Carlin, D’ O Leary (Spencer), Jones, Kenga, Nicholau (Morris), K’ O Leary (Shaw-Morris) Kelly.