Get in. I just knew we would turn up for this one. In amateur football, the importance of passion, drive and being ‘up for it’ can sometimes be overstated. For example, a side with far superior technique and ability can comprehensively batter another, with the losers explanation for the defeat being ‘they wanted it more than us’. It can be the answer to everything.
However, Saturday at the Vamps was a genuine example of how, with two relatively evenly matched sides, it can make a real difference. The lads had been thinking about this one all week and defeat just wasn’t an option. Crouch End were top and unbeaten, so we knew a poor performance was a nailed on defeat.
It was windy, freezing and the pitch was heavy. Tom Thrale was banging on about it being ‘perfect conditions’ but I think he was just trying to be hard. It was never going to be a day for pretty football, we packed the midfield playing what in Football Manager terms would be described as a 4-1-4-1 formation. We have some legs in midfield these days, so Matt wasn’t going to get isolated up top.
It was a high tempo start, we had the territorial advantage without creating too much. We were strong in the tackle and winning anything 50/50. It was the sort of game that we thrive on which speaks volumes about our footballing philosophy. The goal when it came was an absolute screamer from Jonnie Munero. The ball broke to him on bounce the left hand side of the area about 25 yards out. On the half turn, with Thrale overlapping I for one was hoping for a 10 yard pass. Instead he swivelled and hit an effort that dipped, swerved and flew in just under the crossbar……. and then she made me breakfast (muneroism). You know it’s a belter when John Morris starts wheeling away down the touchline. And wheel he did.
We pushed forward looking to press home the advantage. The oppo were almost level but for an important goal line clearance by Thrale, Edelman also made a smart stop with his feet. That said, you did just feel we were the more purposeful side. A break down the right found Kelly in space and he delivered into what I am happy to label a ‘great area’. Nicholau tangled with the keeper, reacted first and tapped home the loose ball.
2-0 at the break and we had been playing really well. We were working our ankle socks off and were dangerous on the break. A couple of pointers from the gaffer around the second ball but ‘more of the same’ was the order. I told the lads not to be too self-congratulatory but a good 30% didn’t know what this meant. Therefore, I fell back on the tried and tested Saturday afternoon ‘wind analysis’ and what it would mean for our tactics. This can either be ‘we are with the wind this have lads so it’s going to carry a bit…’ or ‘we are against the wind this half lads so it’s going to hold up…’. It was the latter for the second half on this occasion. Great insight.
So, the wind was against us and we expected Vamps to come at us a bit. They applied pressure but we were resolute at the back and restricted them to half chances. It wasn’t quite the kitchen sink, but even if they had literally chucked one in, Egan probably would have had a crack at heading it away. We defended brilliantly as a team and Dan Gunyon in particular was doing a fantastic job screening in front of the back four. We had to work very hard and keep our focus, but as the half drifted away you had the feeling it was going to be our day. Vamps lost a man with a few to play through sheer frustration and we rounded it off on the break. Mark Mcveigh bounded away like a scouse antelope and tried to cut back on his left peg, only for an onrushing Vamps full back to sweep it off him and past his own keeper.
3-0, a cracking result and performance. It was a hard but fair game, but ultimately nothing less than we deserved. Best showing of the season and should give us belief moving forward. We looked so much more so solid as a defensive unit and really sharp on the counter. There is no need to be too self-congratulatory (there it is again) as it is only one victory. However, we can certainly afford to enjoy this one and build on it against a decent Norsemen side next. Well done lads.
MOM : Good performances all round. Egan was in his element but Dan Gunyon just edges him. Different class.
AP : Edelman, Carlin, Patterson, Egan, Thrale, Gunyon, Nicholau (Adjekwei), O’Leary (Munero), McVeigh, Brown (Fernee), Kelly