Scorers: Kralik, Piner, Vickerstaff
Saturday saw AP 5s embark on the beginning of what is destined to be a long and successful AFA cup run. Coming off the back of two straight losses, the signs were good when the captain arrived at London Victoria at 11.45 to join up with the rest of the lads for the beginning of a three hour round trip to Reigate. People often say that in the modern game – when you have likes of Piner living it up in his Wood Green mansion and Dodimead living his rock star lifestyle – the magic of the cup is long dead. However, the fact that our multinational and sometimes mentally slow squad all managed to make it to the specific meet place at the right time surely suggested that something was in the air.
Without elaborating too much on the pre-match travelling aspect of the day, I feel like I should implore my players to start showing some initiative. Sure, yes I am an inspirational and wise leader; however, just because I don’t explicitly tell you to purchase a ticket for a train prior to travelling, doesn’t mean that you should just stand there waiting for my arrival before doing so.
Anyway, to the game. Having won the toss, we decided to play up the ridiculously steep Regatian hill and against the wind in the first half. This seemed to focus our minds and we completely dominated the half both in terms of possession and territory. Indeed, we quickly went 2-0 up following a nice Vickerstaff goal and a lovely rapid passage of play which led to Marek getting the second. At this point it looked like we were in for an easy afternoon and that it was likely that we would have plenty of time to get back for the fireworks.
However, this would have been boring. Regatians scored a freak goal towards the end of the first half, coming directly from a corner. With our implosion the week before fresh in our minds, this inevitably sparked unease throughout the team which was soon alleviated by a lovely third at the end of the half. Piner (who had a quality game in CM) started the move with a delightful through ball to Harald and following some classy football involving our marauding German right back and Dodimead, Piner received the ball back and smashed it into the top corner. So we went into half time on a high, knowing that if we kept playing sensible and patient football, it would almost certainly be a matter of how many.
Unfortunately, our second half performance was under par. We were sloppy in possession, and struggled to find any real penetration on what was a bumpy pitch. While defensively we had looked relatively solid up to this point, Regatians’ second goal summed up the team’s more general dip in performance. One of their only two decent players picked up the ball from inside our half, skinned Robinson a couple of times, before going on to glide past an equally hapless Burwell and shooting it in from the edge of the box. Having created (and wasted) a few strong chances the inevitable came in the last minute when they equalised.
Having played for AP for over three years now, this is where these games typically end, with a demoralised and tired team being there for the taking. However, the 5s should take immense credit for their extra time performance. As well as having further chances to score (hitting the woodwork twice) we again dominated possession and, most importantly, showed real fight – winning our 50/50s. At the same time, we have to be thankful to Tobias for making a couple of brilliant saves.
While we ultimately struggled to make the breakthrough, our extra time performance shifted the psychological balance back in our favour and we went into penalties in a positive mindset. Our first three penalty takers (Dodimead, Hyde and Magee) all put theirs away comfortably. Amid this, the Regatians takers, reeling from their sudden realisation that Tobias was German (after Piner shouted it from across the pitch), crumbled under the pressure, with Tobias making two smart saves. Up stepped Scudamore to slot home the winning penalty and in turn achieving full redemption for “JAMIE”-gate two games earlier (I should probably mention that he has more generally had a really good couple of games since).
There’s so much more to tell, including the captain’s race against time to make the fireworks, a Tobias cappuccino purchase which almost led to him missing a vital train but none of that is too interesting either…
MOM: Tobias Mittermaier