Scorer: Brade (2)
And so on a beautiful autumn day in North London we faced the unknown with a SAL cup tie against Garchs. The joy of playing on the lush main pitch coupled with the supply of a rather natty looking new kit meant the boys were up for the game.
We set up with Andy Sievewright in goal and a back four of Harry, Gary, Andy and Will. Midfield of Liam, Adam, Ben and Ashley. Then Jermaine behind the skips up front. Two of APs finest returned to grace the bench in the shape of Fevzi and Tom.
From the off we could tell this was going to be a very tough match, as Garchs matched us physically and looked a very strong attacking side. The early exchanges were frantic and a touch of quality was lacking in both sides as the battle for midfield dominance. Both Ash and Liam gradually began to get some space to work on the flanks as we began to settle into some better passing. We had an early chance when Liam whipped over a cross towards the centre, but unfortunately the Flying Yank was not quite flying high enough to get the header down.
Garchs swept forward in numbers whenever they gained possession and if their passing had been a bit slicker they may have opened us up. As it was the back four were constantly snuffing out the threat. Andy made a good smothering save at one point but largely untested. Adam and Ben were beginning to move the ball better as the half wore on and Ash was giving their right back a torrid time. Jermaine and Kurt seemed a little isolated at times as Garchs always seemed to outnumber them. As the half neared its end Garchs had a shout for a penalty that was turned down but unfortunately with a few minutes to go they got a penalty after their tricky centre forward drew a foul in the area. He fired home from the spot giving Andy no chance.
Knowing we had to up our game for the second period we emphasised the need for quicker passing and better movement to create space. The next goal would be crucial to the outcome so we had to carry the fight to Garchs end.
From the off we looked more driven and used the width of the pitch to good effect with Harry and Andy giving extra help from the back. Ben and Adam picked up the gauntlet and began moving the ball effectively with Jermaine dropping a little deeper to give extra options. Kurt was using his physical presence to unsettle their defenders who were forced into hasty clearances. Ash was looking more threatening as the game stretched and he had more space to run at the oppo. The equaliser came from Ash who picked up the ball on the flank cut in and unleashed a drive that flew into the far corner. 1-1 and we seemed to be in the ascendancy. Garchs still posed a threat and Gary and Will had to be on form to snuff out their attacks.
Andy made a stunning save to deny Garchs striker as he bore down on goal. His distribution with the ball was also excellent. Fevzi came on for Andy and Harry came off for Tom. We now looked even more attacking on the flanks which helped open up the centre more for Adam and Ben. Adam went close with a long range effort before we took the lead with a similar goal to the first. Ash picked up the ball cut and drove a low shot that went under the keeper. Garchs threw on their last subs. More chances came for us as Jermaine and Kurt both had opportunities. We were well in control now with Both Fevzi and Tom raiding down the flanks. The final act was a barnstorming run from Will the length of the pitch beating three defenders on the way to winning a corner. 2-1 and a hard fought but deserved victory against a very good Garchs side. There will be tougher games but not by very much.
Everyone put in a shift and all deserve praise, but the main men this week were as follows. If Carlsberg made Goalies they would all be like Andy, who was absolute quality throughout. Gary and Will probably put in one of their best performances against a tricky and powerful Garchs attack. Ash was Ash, nuff said. Kurt gave the Garchs defence a good battering especially in the 2nd half. Once again the attitude was right and the commitment top notch. We need to improve the passing a bit to maximise pitch sizes and we generally need to be a bit more active rather than reactive to situations. On the whole it was an excellent performance considering the quality of Garchs and that we are still trying to settle the squad. Game at the league leaders next week so more of the same please.