Scorers: Shaw-Morris, Hancox, Carter 2, Coughlan, Fullerton
Our final away game of the season, meant a win and we were champs, so no pressure there then.
With everyone present we looked strong with 3 subs and plenty of support on the side to hassle the oppo. We had some pre match photos to enter into the ugliest team in the SAL competition, that’s one trophy secured! Then the manager gave the usual drivel about passing the ball, communication, blah, blah, blah all of which was greeted with the usual blank looks.
We set up with Mike in goal, Tom, Jonesy, Will and Ziggy across the back. Midfield of Les, Jed, Jason and Ash. Fraser and Kurt completed the line up. The subs were Ben, Liam and Leon, a very strong bench indeed. Tom was made captain for the day as it was his last game of the season before heading off to explore the Vietnamese tunnels of Cu-Chi, which we all know is a knocking shop in old Saigon run by the famous Vietnamese madam Ming-ah.
We started the game well, with good passing from all and an obvious desire to finish the job before the Vamps visit. Unfortunately it proved early on that the Gallic ref was not going to have a good day as he blew up for non fouls and let obvious fouls pass by. Regardless of this we stuck to the task and created some early chances with Fraser looking lively and Les and Ash always a threat. Kurt who had obviously been abducted by aliens and replaced by a Drogba impersonator, (no really) was immense, a super first touch, battled for every ball and chased down the defence. The first came when Kurt took the ball down, turned their defender raced to the byline and whipped in a cross which Fraser deftly pulled down and volleyed home.
Bank were obviously realising that they were getting outplayed so try to force the issue with some untidy tackling. Their no6 was taking exception to being bypassed by kicking lumps out of any calf muscle that got between him and the ball. Being the team manager I took exception to this and repeatedly pointed it out to the ref who responded by giving me the two finger salute, charming. He was obviously smarting after Agincourt, Crecy, Blenheim, Trafalgar, Waterloo and Stade de France 2012, the list goes on. Anyway we continued to play the right way, with Jason and Jed dominating midfield. We lost Ziggy early on to injury. Leon came in at right back and the skips moved to left back. We extended the lead when Will met a corner like Steve Bould with hair and flashed it into the net. Defensively we were excellent with Bank never getting a sniff. We even played the ball out well from defence. 2-0 at the half and it was hard to see Bank coming back.
A few words of encouragement at the break and Ben came on for Les. Straight away we were in amongst Bank and winning good ball. Our passing game was continuing to cut through the huff and puff of Bank, and the third followed when Kurt chased a through ball fought off the defender and calmly slotted home. A fine goal to cap a great performance. Ben then popped up with a cheeky chip/cross to make it four. All we had to do now was keep the focus………..yeah that was really going to happen. Collectively we went to sleep and allowed Bank to play a hopeful ball over which their striker latched onto and chipped over Michael who had practically been a spectator. A good finish though.
Bank pushed on now and our Gallic friend gave a penalty when what seemed like a decent tackle was greeted by a wail of agony from their player and some Man Utd like pleas to the ref. With the penalty tucked away we suddenly upped our game. The pace of our game was beginning to tell on Bank and we had several breakaways with the best coming from Will who sped the length of the pitch, beating a couple of defenders on the way and still being calm enough to put over a lovely cross that deserved a finish. Skipper for the day also hit a post with a crafty toe poke from the edge of the area. Liam now came on for Kurt. Ash went up front, Fraser left Liam right and Ben in the hole. I think the football now got even better as we opened up Bank at will, unfortunately Ash was about to make Kurt look like Van Persie as he missed several chances. Some were good saves others were……. how can I put this………..oh yeah, rubbish shooting.
Fortunately Ben hit a volley that bobbled in to the corner. Liam ”goalmachine” Coughlan now stepped up to prove that Ash was not alone in being pants in front of goal, as he missed a couple of sitters. The finest of which was the shot/chip/slice that proved all the spectators wrong. We all thought he had to score! Our final change was to push our Vietnamese boy up front, Ash went back to the left (probably for the best) and Fraser slipped to left back. Next Ash broke through, skipped round the keeper and with the goal gapping did the unselfish thing and laid the ball back for Tom to finish from 2yards. Referee Clouseau who was still in another postcode disallowed it because………..he couldn’t keep up and his mortgage on the chateau is with the Bank of England. Finally with the minutes ticking away another break saw the ball slid across the area, with the keeper stranded and the goal open Liam came hooning into the area like a greyhound chasing a rabbit and slotted home his first goal for the club (at long last). He celebrated in suitably exuberant fashion. 6-2 and worthy winners, CHAMPIONS and still unbeaten.
We celebrated with the cup that Neil lovingly made. Showing just what you can learn from Blue Peter. A fantastic performance against tricky opponents. This was one of our best games this season. We dominated from start to finish with everyone doing the simple thing, and helping each other. Quality passing and the desire to work hard and close the ball down were the key things. It was a shame we switched off for five minutes because the performance deserved a clean sheet, and Bank only had three attempts all game. We must make sure that we are at it for 90 mins in the remaining two games to ensure the season finishes in the right fashion.
Michael in goal was mainly a spectator although as usual he dealt with anything that was thrown at him. Leon was solid when he came on and was even able to drive forward on occasion. Will and Jonesy put in one of their best pairing performances of the season. Some fine tackling and distribution set the tone for our game. Ziggy’s cameo was worth the trip as he looked assured in everything he did. Jason and Jed were the workhorses, doing all the tackling, heading and passing that was at the heart of our play. Les and Ben showed quality touches and showed why they are a couple of the best attacking wide men at the club. Ash on the left was as usual…. Explosive, with his pace constantly exposing Banks defence. Also he showed what is at the heart of this team when he set up Tom rather than adding to his tally, I bow down before you. I actually think he was worried he would miss. Fraser was revelling in his role as he probed and passed his way through the game. For a man who has a great first touch is quick and scores goals it is hard to believe he is related to John Morris. Liam was mental, he jumps like Zebedee, tackles like the defender’s taken his sweets and he also scores goals, superb. Kurt the Drog was quality. The chest control and backheel flick had the crowd purring in the first half. He definitely led by example.
Finally Tom, who I have seen grow from a boy into a slightly bigger boy over the last couple of years. His reading of the game is excellent as is his tackling. And he might, just might be a better striker than Kurt. And above all he always plays with a smile on his face, mind you with some of our finishing it is hardly surprising. All that said I would hate to sit next to him on that long haul as he recounts the goal that got away.
A big thank you to all the supporters, it does make a difference. We had 10 people on the side including subs, Bank had 1. I think that says it all.
I hope Fevzi and Fraser enjoyed the tour of London there and back. And that I have not ruined their enjoyment of the Olympics!
Well done to everyone, but remember this isn’t over till 4.45pm on the 28th. Two clean sheets and I can die a happy man.