With the 3s season coming to a close our main task was to try and stretch the unbeaten run against a Vamps side that would be fired up for the challenge.
The recent balmy weather was replaced by an overcast blustery day on the main pitch. I felt it might be one of those days when we seemed to make the putting up the posts and nets like some sort of science experiment with no instructions. Nevertheless we started on time with an unchanged side. Michael in goal, Leon, Will, Jonesy and Ziggy at the back. Liam, Jason, Jed and Ash. Fraser and Kurt topped of the starting 11, with Young Will and Adam on the bench.
As in recent weeks we started well and put Vamps under some pressure with the skips looking lively and Fraser pulling the strings. Jason and Jed were asserting themselves in midfield. After a couple of openings our best chance fell to the Skips who tricked his way past their defender on the byline but fired wide from an acute angle. Vamps work rate now began to get them a foothold in the game as they pushed on at pace whenever possible. From a corner their guy swept the ball home from the edge of the area. A great strike but if you leave people unmarked on the edge of the area then these things are always possible. We tried to push on and get a quick equaliser, but Vamps defence was well organised and we failed to create any clear cut openings. Their keeper was booked for a deliberate handball as the ball looked to bypass him outside the area. With it not being a clear chance I think a yellow was fair. As the half drew near we were hit by a sucker punch as a long punt up field to a huge bounce with the aid of the wind and cleared Mike for their striker to pass into an open net. From not playing that bad we found ourselves 2-0 down with Mike hardly being involved, and Vamps never really getting any clear chances.
Half time and we knew it was going to be a hard 45mins. Adam came on for Jason as we looked to get at their back four. We started as we meant to carry on with everyone putting their all in. Ash came more into the game and Fraser continued to be at the heart of all that was good about our play. Chances began to go our way, Kurt was slipped through only for the keeper to save sharply. Ash and Fraser both hit the woodwork after good attacking play. We had goal line scrambles, but Vamps were putting up a stubborn resistance. Young Will came on for Ziggy as we went three at the back and two up top. This gave Vamps the chance to break away when our play broke down, and they did this to good effect, but failed to trouble Mike until late on when he had to make a couple of saves. For all our effort, time was running out even though the ref did play plenty of “Fergie time” (almost ten minutes). So the game ended along with the unbeaten run. Vamps celebrated with a good old sing song on the pitch (next stop Britain’s got talent) like they had won the division….they wish. I did think of seeing if they could do a rendition of “We are the champions” but I’m not as quick as I used to be!
So we lost the battle and won the war. The performance deserved a point as Vamps rode their luck, and on another day we might have scored four. To be fair Vamps had the focus a bit better than us. And on the day we needed everyone to be on fire some of us were just on a steady boil. The one thing the game has polarised is that our goals to chances ratio is not as good as it should be. I would say we create 7-8 good chances each game and might convert a couple, where as other teams seemed to have only half that number against us but will still score 2-3 goals. This is not a criticism but an observation of something that needs to be addressed, because next season every game will be like playing Vamps. All in all though we should be satisfied with our efforts. So with one game to go we want to make sure we end on a win and put some daylight between us and Vamps in the final table. We just relax and enjoy the occasion.
I have omitted the player descriptions this week as I am saving my thoughts for the final report when everyone’s egos will be well massaged in detail……….or will they?