Cup games have been coming thick, fast and ugly like a barrage of Egan one-liners for the first team. Saturday saw a trip to Chingford in the first round of the Middlesex and Essex cup. The usually reliable TFL journey planner had underestimated my slickness of transition from tube to bus, leaving me about 20 minutes early to the ground. Fortunately, the tactics truck (Kieran’s cab) rolled in shortly afterwards so there was an opportunity to plot the downfall of Hale End in the back. However, Lee Carlin, ego noticeably inflated from the previous week’s heroics, used it as platform to slag off Jake Livermore so I just sat there and listened to that.
We went 4-4-2, Sam Webb coming in, Andy Brown returning and Steve Edelman standing in for Stu. The scouting network had once again done its job, making absolutely no difference to our approach. It is brilliant how the following exchange will always take place whenever we play someone not in the SAL….
Player A : What league are this lot in?
Player B : (Insert any league name and division)
Player A : What does that mean then?
Player B : It’s difficult to say, but they will be ‘no mugs’
Player A : Oh right……*Disinterested pause*……has anyone got any tape?
As with most games, the message was just to do the basics better than them. I guarantee every player will get sick of me saying it but it is what will win us games. Bit of a heavy and small pitch and not the prettiest of openings. The oppo seemed content to pump big diagonals to their wide men, who I would certainly put in the deceptively slow category. We hadn’t really got our passing together but were starting to go through the gears down the right hand side.
You got the impression that we had the better quality but we just had to get the first goal. Ronnie went down under a clumsy tackle. You knew it was a peno by the reaction of the centre half, running over swearing and doing the old double handed diving action. Eventually the deadlock was broken when a set piece (probably delivered to the near post) was cleared to the edge of the box. Kelly scuffed a strike back in and whilst some people will say the skipper dangled an offside leg at it, I would argue that I killed it with the poise of a 30 goal striker. Either way Andy Brown lashed home from about 10 yards to give us the lead.
We doubled this before half-time with a really nice move down the left. Tom Thrale claimed he fancied a goal and my word was he wrong. However, he started the move down the left, which opened up through Sam Webb who in turn fed Matt. Matt nicked it round the defender and clipped it home into the far corner with all the confidence of a man who knew there would be a fat girl waiting for him on Upper St that night.
2-0 up at the break but still a bit of frustration. We hadn’t quite got it going and we had been a touch sloppy in the TRANSITION. The second half drifted away, subs rolling on and off like some sort of crap relay. This rule in my opinion turns the game into a total joke and I hope it never gets anywhere near an SAL league fixture. We defended pretty well bar a couple of mix ups, Steve enjoying a little tiki-taka down by the corner flag. We should have put the game to bed long before, but eventually yet another Kelly penalty wrapped it up. Despite this, the lad wasn’t even saved any food post-game. Lawrence undoing all his good in bringing 6 packs of electrical tape along by eating the same amount of sausages. No I in team lad.
Anyway, a solid enough win, even though we weren’t at full tilt. We have a good little run going and if anything are probably a little too harsh on ourselves at times. Can’t really argue with a comfortable victory and our 3rd clean sheet in 4. Big game at Finchleans Saturday which I am well up for.
MOM : Good performances from both wingers and obviously a brace from Matt. However, Andy edges Lawrence for a lively display down the right. If Lawrence hadn’t let his hunger get the better of him, I would have taken it to deadlock.
AP : Edelman, Carlin, Patterson, Egan, Thrale, Brown, Kelly, Gunyon, O’Leary (Fernee) , Webb, Adjekwei (Hillier)