The Veterans competitive season ended all too quickly after it had begun, in unlucky circumstances on Saturday. Trekking across to the South has always been a challenge for those less dedicated souls at AP. But you’d think that at the age of 50, Sanger should by now have got over the need to stay at home and watch Arsenal get tonked by Utd, or the need to stay at home and play happy families with the wife’s nieces because they were visiting for the day (wimp Shuter). Even with those two missing we had a strong line up, with Howard Williams and Chris Allen returning to wear an AP shirt for the first time in over a decade…good to have you back boys and travelling down from the Midlands and Cambridgeshire, and Kurt making the journey from deepest darkest Suffolk perhaps Sanger and Shuter could learn a lesson or two from you all.
The line up was Bent between the sticks, a defence of dying Swan Rice and can’t run, won’t mark Edwards, Findlater, an injury’s always just around the corner, Williams or H or Fi Fi to his mates, Midfield was strong with Tenko and Adrian Smith in the middle who could both still walk into our top 3 teams, Hedgley and Janno, up top we started with head down Fletch and I need a fag Foley, the bench of Mark Smith, Alan Montague and Chris Allen gave us confidence we could something from the game.
Nottsborough was always going to be a tough nut to crack, but at an impressive refurbished Kingston University venue, we started positively and took the game to them. The first half we played expansive football, and I’m not talking about the waistlines here either…using the width provided by Williams, Hedgley, Findlater and Allen well. Smith had a good effort drift wide of the post, Foley scuffed shot, not to be his last scuff of the day and Montague had a curling shot well held by their keeper, we also missed the target with a header which should have put us into the lead. At the other end, Doug was sweeping up nicely any breaks and covering H who liked the thought of being in the oppos’ half and Taff who liked the thought of strolling around without a care in the world! Tenko and Adrian won good tackles to set us going forward, but alas we didn’t have the cutting edge. At the other end, apart from one flap at a corner, Tony was untroubled by a few shots off target and a few crosses which were ably dealt with. The 2nd half was much the same, but Nottsborough upped their game making it a more even contest.
Their keeper tipped one over the top from Fletch and Tony was forced into a couple decent saves as the game opened up. We took the lead when a quick throw from Tony found Kurt marauding down the right, he picked out Fletch and his flick on was into the path of Tenko who buried it into the bottom corner – great goal. This irked Nottsborough, and the tempo was soon end to end. Doug, Mark and Adrian Smith, H and even Janno and Taff was making good tackles to keep them at bay. With 15 minutes to go, just when it looked like we would hold out, a pass out of defence was intercepted and Notts moved the ball across the pitch to leave their forward one on one with Tony and he found the corner with a decent finish.
The game went into extra time and during this period, they had the better chances clipping the bar with a cross shot and Tony made a good save low down. At the other end Montague was denied by their keeper and a chance went begging from a corner. To be fair there was not much in it and probably rightly so it went to pens….whilst we were discussing who should take them, Skipper Mark was rushed into giving his penalty takers by the ref, who to be fair had had a very good game, this was not ideal as Mr Foley was not in our top 10 penalty takers… They put away their first three pens, we missed two of our three one of them the aforementioned scuff, Tony saved their fourth and Fletch then scored, leaving Tony to save the last penalty to keep us in it…alas it was déjà vu from the 4’s a couple weeks earlier and they buried it to win the game. We were down but not out, as it was a good team performance, and just like the good old days we had a good drink and catch up afterwards, not surprisingly we were the last to leave yet another South London ground. With the Johnny Wotton effect we now have the makings of a good Vets team going forward, all we need is the commitment from the boys to get some friendly games between the cup and we’ll match any vets teams out there.