Seemingly, a lovely day for a game of football at the Racecourse. The sun was out, I arrived in a snappy post pay-day jacket that must have given the lads a little inspiration. Further to this, we had about 15 printed copies of Kipling’s ‘If’ waiting for us in the dressing room. Egan had outdone himself in a quest for inspiration, yet unfortunately had forgotten to include any pictures. In doing so, he had already lost 75% of the audience who will forever think Kipling is someone who makes exceedingly good cakes.
It’s a shame really because whilst Laurence is probably the sort of bloke that would ‘make one heap of all your winnings and risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss’, he could probably do with the ‘never breathe a word about your loss’ part. I reference Vegas night, a £50 note and the roulette wheel.
Anyway, it was an opportunity to get back to winning ways after a midweek defeat. The pressure was off to some extent, with Poly playing an Actonians side with nothing to play for, we knew the title would almost certainly come down to the last day. This would give us the opportunity to try and play a bit of football and relax a little (in theory).
I thought we started off ok, it wasn’t particularly fluid but we were trying to do the right things. We were looking dangerous down the right flank and Ronnie was running the channels well. I managed to offend Martin by telling him he wasn’t allowed to take a free kick 25 yards out, that was about all that happened.
After about half an hour, we went ahead, Ronnie putting us infront. As one of only 36 of his Linkedin connections (I have no idea how that came about) I can confirm that the correct spelling for the Exposure Control Advisor (EMEA) is Adjekwei and not Adjekwai. I will also now seek his advice in attempting to control the exposure in our dressing room. Not a pretty sight. Anyway, Ron managed to get in behind the oppo defence, powered away from the centre half and slotted left footed in the bottom corner. Tidy finish.
We then proceeded to batter Old E’s for the rest of the half, Chris Nicholau looping one against the angle of post and bar, before Egan had a point blank header superbly saved.
I really thought we were in control at the half and to be honest, thought it might end up 3 or 4. Unfortunately, we were now playing against a pretty fierce wind up the slope which meant anything over head height was coming back. Still, we were relatively comfortable until with about 30 left to play we were hit with a bolt from the blue.
We lined up to defend a set piece about 35 yards from goal, a nailed on crossing opportunity. However, the oppo player hit an absolute screamer downhill, with the wind, that flew in off the post. He could strike that dead ball another 100 times and not repeat it, an unbelievable hit. 1-1.
Following the equaliser, we huffed and puffed but were really poor in the final third. It’s not easy to be fluid on a hard pitch but it was pretty insipid. We would work our way into good positions, before flicking in a weak cross or an over hit pass. It was sloppy and as with Tuesday night, our play wasn’t direct or incisive enough. We seemed happy to pass over responsibility in key areas and hope that somebody else would make the difference.
Fair play to the oppo, whilst they didn’t particularly threaten beyond their goal they battled away for the point. We looked like we could have played on all afternoon and not scored again.
I went ballistic at the final whistle, just felt like too many people were hiding for my liking. On reflection, whilst I think we needed a kick up the backside, it was probably just a case of it ‘not happening’ for a few too many of us. We had a more constructive conversation in the dressing room, once we had all cooled off and talc’d up. I am a big talc advocate, possibly the only one in my generation. The long and short of it is, we forget about this blip and to paraphrase, man up for the final game.
So, the result means Poly go top and we have to beat them on the last day of the season (whereas 3 points would have meant a draw was enough). To be honest, I am not overly fussed by this, it makes the task in hand very black and white. Poly are the only team to have beaten us by more than a goal this season and ever since they hammered us a few games in, we have been saying we owed them one on the return. At that point, if you had given me the opportunity to go there to seal promotion, let alone win the title I would have taken it in a heartbeat. Everything that has happened the last few weeks totally goes out of the window and it is effectively a cup final. We have pulled out our best against the better opposition, often when we have been in the underdog position. The lads have been immense this season and I have got a quiet confidence that we can go there and do a job. We will all pull together and put in one more massive effort on Saturday. Let’s leave absolutely nothing in the tank, it’s a long old summer with no regrets! It’s up for grabs now….
MOM : Thrale. His attitude was the example.
AP : Pennycook, Gunyon, Patterson, Egan, Thrale, McVey, R.Hubbard, Nicholau (Manu), Kelly, Hillier (Fernee) Adjekwei