Goals: Hubbard (3), OG.
A superb hat-trick by the lethal Mikey Hubbard outclassed a spirited Weirside Rangers outfit on Saturday. With the 1st XI at home, we were banished to the top of the hill at New River, where we were surprised to find a firm, decent surface, especially after the torrential rain we experienced in the week. The Reserves were yet again able to name an extremely strong line-up, it was as was before Xmas, with the addition of the returning Sly and MOD in goal. Discussion before the game centred on our new away kit – as Weirside play in Orange, Skipper Macca ‘borrowed’ his Schools 6th Form kit – much to the chagrin of those of the Tottenham persuasion, as it was red with white sleeves!
We started slowly (as ever!) with the oppo pushing us back into our own half. After this we got a footing in the game and began to carve them open almost at will. Mikey Hubbard opened the scoring with a deft control over his shoulder, which he then did well to dink over the massive keeper from close range. Weirside came at us slightly – they were looking to get there wingers in behind the fullbacks, but Fabb and Macca were just about able to keep them at bay. They were able to get joy from set pieces however, mainly due to the man-mountain they had a centre-back – we just about coped however. We had our chances as well – Mikey came close again but snatched at his chance slightly, and Richie narrowly placed a superb diving header over. With 5 to go in the second half we extended our lead, when the oppo’s large centreback suffered an unfortunate ricochet to place past his keeper from about 25 yards out.
The chat at half time was to keep things tight, and not give away needless set pieces – their only real threat – guess what we did? 15 into the 2nd half, Weirside were level – the first came from a poorly defended corner – a clumsy blast from 3 yards out was uncharacteristically mishandled by MOD, and Ben Carter was unable to stop the ball crossing the line. Their second goal saw about 3 fouls on AP players go unpunished, for their sub to cludge one into the bottom corner. At this point we made a double change – Richie and Karn coming off for Sly and Les. For about 10 minutes we hit the panic button – our approach play was class, but the finishing was poor and snatched – Ben skying from 3 yards out and Les rounding the keeper but just running out of space.
With 10 to go, we got the goal that our endeavour deserved – great distribution by MOD found Les on the left who burned two players and centred for Mikey to volley in spectacularly from 10 yards. Amazing finish. With the game won, we were able to turn on the style, and in the last minute of normal time Mikey got a deserved hat-trick when Les yet again left his marker for dead to centre a great ball for Mike to knock in from 6 yards.
So a good performance and a great win. Next week, attention turns back to the cup as we play in the 3rd round of the MEC. It is hugely important that we keep our focus in both cup and league if we are to continue our good form.
MOTM – Hat-trick hero Hubbard!
Team: O’Donnell, McLoughlin (Wootten), Fabb, Jeator, Simpson, Carter, Wilding, Wilson, Hancock (Corninbert), Hubbard, Harvey (Manu).