Scorers: Adjekwei 2, Kelly
I think we all learnt a lot on Saturday. Lee Carlin gets absolutely irate with some forms of ‘magic’ (card tricks etc are fair game, anything involving props not so). Laurence knows an MI6 spy operating in North London, it is true because she has showed him her badge (words fail me). Finally, if we weren’t before, we are certainly promotion contenders in Div 2.
Crouch End made the trip up to Preston Manor on a blustery, arctic Saturday. We had got the better of the Vamps at their place, the 3-0 victory being the catalyst for this fine run of form on which we currently find ourselves. We were expecting a real battle, in the first fixture they possibly underestimated us a little. The pitch has taken a bit of a bashing over the winter months, so it was immediately deemed ‘not a day for pretty football’. ‘Turn them early and see how they fare’ is a good one. ‘Make the mistake long’ is becoming a bit of a cult favourite.
It was probably the strongest 14 I have ever played with at this club and I liked the quality of the warm up (good cone separation, a keep ball with more than 4 passes). The emphasis was the usual, work rate, intensity and doing the basics well.
We started pretty well, the game was being played at 100mph (Kieran aside….darts song) but we don’t mind that. We should have been ahead when Ronnie capitalised on a poor goal kick, a ricochet took the ball over the keeper and in. It was hooked away by a sliding defender but was apparently a yard or so over, thus re-igniting the debate over the use of goal line technology in the SAL.
The vamps gave as good as they got and created a few chances of their own. The first goal was always going to be big and we have developed a real knack of getting ourselves ahead at key points in the game. When it came, it was a touch of class. Kieran was whipping balls in for fun, at least I hope he enjoys it, and his half cleared free kick dropped to Matt Kelly just outside the area, who took it down and curled beautifully into the top corner. Tekkers etc…
We doubled the lead soon after, in a rare show of distribution prowess Patterson span a ball over the top to Kelly, he kept his composure to slide in Ronnie who tidily slotted home. I couldn’t tell whether there was offside at any point but it looked it and judging by the oppo appeals, I would guess it probably was.
The momentum was with us and it should have been game over right on half time. A Kieran corner eluded everyone was creeping inside the back stick. However, an incredible reflex save saw the ball clawed out. The player in question just happen to be their fullback. Everyone basically stopped playing and looked at the ref, Marc even picked up the ball. The whistle went and a free-kick was given against Marc for handball. At this point, the old ‘play to the whistle’ cliche could be flagged up but I have honestly never seen anything like it at any game, at any level. So 2-0 at the interval….
Fortunately, Ronnie extended our lead soon after the break showing a level of athleticism that comes with the tag ‘zumba veteran’. Kieran pinged in a set piece and Ronnie leapt in between two defenders to head home, a finish which I think even surprised him a little. It fully justified the Ronnie arm pump, see the Didier Drogba celebration adapted for the needs of the amateur game.
Credit to Crouch End, their heads didn’t drop and they came back at us. They won a penalty that I think everyone was a little embarrassed by the award of. However, Stu, a man who turns into the incredible hulk when touched in any way during a set piece, proved too big a target to beat. The peno was well struck on the slick surface but AP’s number 1 got down really well to turn around the post. He stood up with the look of a man expecting to be mobbed but all that really happened was that I sort of half jumped into him.
They did pull one back with about 25 to play, a goal that was very similar to the one Sturridge got at Old Trafford on Sunday.
We were pushed back for the rest of the game and weathered the storm, albeit slightly nervously. I would never go as far as mentioning individual tackles but it would be simply wrong of me to deprive the skipper (me) of a mention of the last ditch masterpiece that saved a certain (may not have been certain) goal.
It finished 3-1, not a stellar game but a battling performance that completed a top double over the Vamps. I am not sure the last time we have done that at first team level, but it must be a fair few years. We are on a good run and I tip my hat to the work rate and attitude of the lads. We have games in hand on the teams above us but could do with them dropping a few points. In the meantime, we just have to keep winning but as with last year, we seem to have got into that habit. Another big game awaits next week, let’s kick on.
MOM : A few contenders and no poor performances. Tom Thrale and Andy Brown in the mix but I will give it to Ronnie for two well taken goals. An asset and a gentleman.
AP : Pennycook, Carlin (Fernee), Patterson, Egan, Thrale, Gunyon (Hillier), McVey, Kelly, Brown, O’Leary, Adjekwei (Munero)