I could basically copy and paste a lot of last week’s match report into this space and be done with it. Another higher division team, another quarter final, another come back and another defeat on penalties. It is however, a lot more disappointing this week.
Old Owens was always going to be a huge test. Coming off 120 minutes the week previous, against a team only once beaten in Division 1 this year was tricky. Physically, I would hope 7 days recovery would be fine for such a group of supreme athletes. Mentally, to recreate the level of intensity from the week previous was going to be real test. Getting ‘up for it’ wasn’t much helped by a pitch at New River that was an absolute disgrace. Ultimately, this is amateur football and we can’t take ourselves too seriously, but it was literally the worst pitch I have ever played on. We played 3 or 4 games to get to a Quarter Final stage, so to have to play it on that was depressing. I can only apologise to Old Owen’s.
Egan was absent with a back injury so donned his best ‘sophisticated manager’ jacket to fill in for the gaffer who was ooop North. I am sure Mourinho owns a pair of beaten up Timberlands somewhere as well. Lee Carlin stepped into the breach at centre half after we were let down with a last minute cry off. Tom and Marc spent the warm up chasing the groundsman round the field looking for excess tape for the goals which capped off less than ideal preparations.
It was no surprise we started sluggishly, it was just totally flat. Owens dominated the play and took the lead with a bozzler of a free kick from range. It moved in the air, didn’t it Stu (WINKY FACE). The lead was doubled before the half, when we couldn’t clear and a low effort crept into the corner. We never got going in the slightest, Ronnie was totally isolated and frankly, we didn’t get near them.
We were a bit shellshocked going into the half to be honest. The ‘Ginger Mourinho’ tag is one thrown around like confetti these days but to be fair, Egan’s switch to 4-4-2 at the break changed the dynamic of the game. Our deadline day signing Pedro was introduced wide left, adding Portugese to the already exotic mix of Scottish, Northern Irish and Scouse. We really are a united nations of a side.
The change in attitude and tempo was almost instantaneous. There was no point having a spare man in a midfield area that looked like something from the Somme and the extra man up top allowed us to press much higher. The chances began to come, Mcvey driving into the area and slightly over hitting a cutback that would have seen us notch. From the following breakdown of play, Pedro killed the ball on the edge of the area and smashed in an absolute stunner off the underside of the bar. He has some insane technique. One of their lads summed it up best after that when he said ‘we have a game on our hands now lads’.
As the first half was all Owens, the second half was all AP. The momentum had changed. As I have mentioned before, the spirit of this team is almost as strong as its 90’s style drinking culture. Egan’s last roll of the dice was to ‘chuck the big lads’, Munero and Patterson, up top, which is something I am sure he picked up whilst undertaking his FA and UEFA coaching badges.
Now believe it or not, when I first rocked up to the Racecourse to play for Nigel Bagley’s 8th team, I told him I was a striker who could play at centre half ‘if needs be’. This immediately made me an out and out centre half and the rest is history. Ever since then, I have beem, to much p*ss taking, saying I should get a run up top. I have been describing myself as a Theo Walcott type striker, I can’t pass the ball but I am rapid and my finishing is actually decent. I doubt anyone remembered these words when Sheildsy hooked one over the top just inside the oppo half. Anyway, Patterson (back to the third person….) burnt the centre half for pace, got onto a ball running away from goal and with his first touch looped it up, over the keeper who had taken a couple of steps off his line, and into the far corner. Half the sideline (about 4 people) came onto the pitch, Stu came up to celebrate, it was marvellous. A finish the skipper had ‘no right to score’ – O’Leary. K and was the second last minute equaliser in as many weeks. I said it last week, I will say it again….knack of scoring big goals. And if you think that devoting a paragraph to my goal is somewhere between a touch and massively narcissistic, I would certainly agree. However, those that know my footballing strengths (shepherding, headers back to the keeper, knocking it out for a throw in) can probably vouch for the fact that this may be the only time I will ever have the opportunity to write a match report in which I lob the keeper with seconds left to play.
Onto extra time and we wanted to avoid penalties after last week. Both sides looked exhausted but I just felt it was there for the taking. At the end of the first half, Kelly hung a corner up for Patterson who arrived for his second with a thumping header. Far more of a centre half’s goal that. I think we all thought it was in the bag, especially when Stu superbly clawed out a free kick with about 3 minutes left to play. Then in added time, of added time we cheaply lost possession with the corner flag calling and managed to stick it straight into the keepers arms. He walloped one forward, it was flicked on and a scuffed finish trickled agonizingly into the corner. Devastating.
Penalties came and went yet again. It went quite far into sudden death, and we were a couple of cross bars away from victory but once again, dumped out on a shoot out. Absolutely gutted to be honest. Unbelievable spirit again from the lads, to turn around a 2 goal deficit against a team only once beaten in Div 1 is undeniably a great effort. That said, this team is one that wants to win, and we know we let this get away from us.
If nothing else, the last two games have shown that there is nothing to be afraid of in Div 1. Owens were a good side, a decent bunch of lads and it wouldn’t surprise me if they were missing a couple of players. That said, I think they know they probably got away with one. We need to pick ourselves up and throw the kitchen sink at getting promoted. Since losing to Poly back in early October, we haven’t been beaten ‘in game’ and that includes 3 fixtures against top tier sides. After the last 2 weeks, I am absolutely desperate to have a go in Div 1 next season. Let’s pick ourselves up for a massive game on Saturday. Get there on time, no excuses.
MOM : Alex Patterson. 2 goals and tucked away the 4th penalty. That’s basically a hat-trick.
Team : Pennycook, Gunyon, Patterson, Carlin, Thrale, McVey, Munero, Kelly, Fernee, Shields, Adjekwei (Casper) (Pedro)