Scorers: Dodimead, Wharton
In an attempt to subdue the impact of a high number of unavailables, the 5s skilfully managed to negotiate an earlier kick off time of 12pm, designed to allow an in-form Dodimead to play before he was to attend the big (proper) Barnet game later in the day. That was the plan anyway. However, what the captain hadn’t factored in was the potential impact of Burwell’s birthday celebrations the Saturday before. Having gone from being seemingly injury-free following Saturday’s game against Winchmore Hill, Dodimead was unable to walk come Monday morning, with Burwell and his oafishness the likely culprit. Afterall this is a guy who decided that the best send off to give AP legend Dave Gillman was to drunkenly rugby tackle him into a lamppost, thus imposing long-term damage to the Aussie’s hearing. An injured Dodimead faced a week-long nail-biting fitness race, with the captain receiving regular updates which served only to add to the tension.
Having passed a late fitness test, Dodimead, and indeed the whole of the 5s were ready for a tough game against an EBOGS 5s team which was one point and one place above in the league having played the same number of games. The team received a boost from being back at the Racecourse for the first time in an eternity, with the return to the squad of Lewis and the sudden reappearance of Wharton compounding this prevailing positivity.
After a typically brutal Lewis-led warm-up routine, the 5s were raring to go. Unfortunately the game’s referee was nowhere to be found. Having frantically phoned around to find out what was happening, it emerged that Richard Gibbs – one of the few people in the 21 century without a mobile phone – was officiating. Luckily, John Morris volunteered to take a break from his intense preparation for the 1s promotion push and officiated the first half until Gibbs arrived (thanks John, much appreciated).
Having won the toss, the captain decided to face up the dreaded back pitch slope for the first half. The 5s started slowly, taking a while to gain a foothold in the game. While EBOGS weren’t creating too many chances, they had pace on the wings, with Magee putting an excellent shift in on the right wing – both in an attacking and defensive sense. Slowly, but surely the 5s began to control possession, with Rae dominating as the ‘1’ in captain Robinson’s innovative/bold 4-1-3-2 formation. The first goal came after a nice Burwell assist put Dodimead clean through on goal; while his initial shot was straight at the keeper, he showed great composure to follow up and slot in the corner.
Most of the team were distracted for the second goal, with Dodimead and Bowhill embroiled in a minor confrontation with the mental EBOGS number 7 who, presumably frustrated by his team going one behind, had decided to attempt to throw himself around like some hyperactive simpleton. From the corner of the captain’s eye though, it looked like a pretty good strike from Wharton from the edge of the box. Towards the end of the half, Magee was forced off with a hamstring injury, replaced by a lively Angelo.
The 5s lost their flow in the second half, with EBOGS fighting hard to get back into the game. The EBOGS goal occurred under controversial circumstances. After their own player going down quite innocuously, EBOGS proceeded to keep the ball in play and scored following some slack AP defending. It was soon to emerge that the injured player was actually unconscious. Luckily for him, Dr Magee was on the scene and showed a great burst of pace (despite his injury) to help him to recovery.
The rest of the game was backs-to-the-wall stuff at times, with AP squandering several excellent chances on the break. However, defensively there were some excellent performances with Rae and Wharton working hard in the middle, Wright making a spectacular last ditch challenge and an under-the-weather Tobias getting down to make two great saves. It wasn’t pretty, but the 5s showed great resilience yet again.
Overall, a pleasing result, though we need to show more efficiency in front of goal. We have five more games, and realistically need five wins for realistic chance of promotion. It’s not going to be easy, but we definitely have a chance.
MOM: James Rae