What a marvellous win for the mighty AP. I actually travelled up to Bounds Green expecting the game to be called off and to be half way through a pint at the proposed kickoff time. There was a little bit of standing water kicking about but it was credit to the OF facilities that the whole thing wasn’t underwater. They also had some cracking nets, best in the league in my opinion. All this said, the ref could well put the kibosh on it but I think news filtered through to him that Tom Thrale had already generously lathered himself in tiger balm (there’s an image). Once the tiger balm is on, the game simply has to go ahead. If not, some random and unexpecting member of the public could well have been on the end of a ‘hard but fair’ challenge out of the blue, Thrale protesting vehemently that he ‘didn’t touch him’ en route to Enfield Magistrates Court.
The oppo had only lost the once in the league and are always a decent outfit. We had to ‘play the conditions’ which was fantastic, as it gave me a plausible explanation for distribution which is erratic at best. A relatively even start, the oppo were testing us down the right hand side, whilst Matt was working the line well for us at the other end. The deadlock was broken by everyone’s favourite scouser, whose name I have been spelling incorrectly all season. Marc McVey, drove through an area of the pitch which would have been better for ducks (LOL), taking it early on his left peg and smashing it inside the near post. Great finish from just outside the area.
We began to turn the screw a little and we were defending really well. It wasn’t crash, bang, wallop stuff, just good shape and discipline leaving Stu without too much to do but deal with a few crosses. We were playing the more effective football in the conditions, even if you had the ability to build from the back it was certainly not advisable. I consider the square ball a continental luxury at the best of times but it was actually pointless to try and do anything with the ball in your own half. We were doing our effective work in the final third and could have extended our lead through Matt then Andy. Right on half time, the latter doubled our advantage with an excellent team move. We built the play down the left, before finding Kier on the overlap. O’Leary put the delivery right on Champagne Alley and Andy arrived late at the back stick to head home. 2-0 AP, top goal and I cannot wait to use variations of Champagne Alley as the season progresses.
We expected an onslaught to kick off the second half and we were defending the end where trench foot was a genuine possibility. Again the shape was good, Stu’s handling was smart and kicking decent apart from the occasional quick starts that give me a minor episode.
We pushed for the third, Matt deserved a goal and was only denied by the outstretched leg of the keeper. Eventually it was McVey that killed the game. Another winding run, a bit of pinball and a slotted finish. OF were pretty much spent from then, strange as it may sound the game was actually closely contested until this point.
A lovely goal by substitute Sam Webb followed for the fourth, driving into the oppo area after a neat move and beating the keeper with the instep. The lads were desperate for me to put the fifth down as an own goal, but Danny ‘The Tractor’ Gunyon had put in yet another big shift and his deflected effort skidded off the surface from 25 yards into the bottom corner. Bit gutted to lose the clean sheet to a totally shanked cross but it really couldn’t be helped.
Cracking performance by the lads and a really good three points. You could see OF were a handy side but we played the conditions better than them, probably due to the fact that we had less of a short passing game to abandon. To be fair (as Lee began every sentence with on Saturday) I shouldn’t talk our quality of football down. We played some good stuff in the right areas, scored some decent goals and defended really well. There is also that underlying motivation and team spirit, that I do think is making the difference. We don’t seem to have lost a 50/50 in about a month. There is nothing to be afraid of in this league and we should really look to kick on from here. One point of note, training attendance has to better, if we all get there it’s worthwhile, if 3 or 4 of us are it’s crap. It could genuinely make the difference in a league which is absolutely wide open.
Anyway, back in the cup Saturday, let’s keep it going.
MOM: Good team performance. Matt Kelly led the line superbly and at times made two decent central defenders look a bit silly. That said, it goes to Marc McVey despite not even receiving the newsletter. Scores goals, gets stuck in, hates cowboy boots.