Goals – Hubbard (2), Carter, Olomowewe
A very strange game, a great result and the AFA cup quarter finals for the 2nd year in succession. Yet again there was fun and games for the gaffer sorting a team – Simmo failed to recover from his fake injury, Sly was on his deathbed with man flu, Mike OD was rowing his way back across the Irish sea, Louie Nic was called into work, and another player decided that Ewell was far too far away but New Beckenham was local! Luckily, we were able to call up Steve Edelman from the 4’s, and the 1’s returned Karnell to us in one piece!
Salesian are currently chasing the SAL Intermediate Division 1 title, so we knew that we were in for a tough day – Gaffer made the point that we have come so far since the dark days earlier in the season, that we are the team at the club that performs at a high level week-in week-out, and that it was about time that we showed everyone at AP that we can mix it with the best of the best.
With Gaffers words ringing in our ears and a real sense of belief, we started well and found ourselves 1-0 up after 75 seconds. Mike Hubbard received a ball 30 yards out and chipped the keeper with unerring accuracy – this was a goal of real quality that had more than a passing resemblance to the iconic Cantona strike against Sunderland. 5 minutes later, it was 2-0 – the keeper came and flapped at a corner and Les Manu fired a ball back in to Mike, who fired the ball low into the bottom corner. 2-0 and we couldn’t believe it to be honest! Salesian had real pace down the flanks and Skips was booked for a clumsy challenge 7 minutes in. Woots and Fabb dealt with this threat admirably. 10 minutes and it was 3-0 – great work by Harry and Richie in midfield worked the ball out wide to Les who whipped in a top quality ball at pace, and Ben ran onto it to loop a header into the top corner. 3-0 up and we still could not really believe it!
Salesian came at us a bit, but we did well to repel anything they had – at times we had to defend deep, and allow Salesian lots of possession in front of us, but we were patient enough to do this and confident enough in our own ability that we would not get in behind us. On the occasions they did, Steve was a firm barrier behind us.
25 minutes in, Harry dissected the Salesian defence for Toib to run on and calmly finish under the keeper. 4-0 – unbelievable Jeff! We had a couple of other chances, but Salesian were becoming frustrated and redoubled their effort. We were fairly comfortable until half time, and had a few other half chances – Les forcing one particular good save from the keeper.
The half time chat consisted of a warning that Salesian were a wounded animal, and would really come at us in the 2nd half, and that we would be under the cosh slightly. And that was the case. We defended manfully, from the front to the back. Mike made way for Karnell to give us extra legs uptop, and he and Toib battled brilliantly, using their pace to bring the ball away and give the defence a respite whenever possible. Dan Wilding came on for Les, and nearly chipped the keeper soon after coming on – he shanked his shot though. Dan was also responsible for one of the most gobsmacking pings across the pitch we have seen.
The Skipper was responsible for letting the oppo back into the game – a rush of blood to the head saw him let a shot go through his legs, which beat Steve into the bottom corner. His team mates rallied and were able to pull him through after. There was a further scare when Salesian scored another with 10 to go, but we defended heroically and saw the game out.
A great win, against a top team who were gracious in defeat – we know that we rode our luck, but the sheer determination of our defending earned the win. A great team performance and a great way to end the year. If we stay focussed, we could go far in this competition.
Team: Edelman, Fabb, Wootten, Jeator, McLoughlin, Wilson, Hancock, Manu (Wilding), Carter, Hubbard (Harvey), Olomowewe.
Man of the Match – Harry Wilson – a masterful centre midfield performance.