I sometimes wonder how members of the first team make it through a day. In the times of google maps, journey planners and 4G, a journey to marginally west of London becomes still becomes akin to a trip to Mordor. That or a day out at the circus. Marvel, as Andy Brown ends up in a motorway traffic jam (who knows what motorway he was on). Wonder, at the circumstances that have led Ronnie and John to be lacing up their boots 20 minutes before kick off. Gasp, as Stu Cook mistakes Barnes for Barnes Bridge. Laugh, as Laurence Fernee leaves his house without his wallet. Cry, as Lee Carlin discovers there are ‘minor delays’ on the Northern line.
Yes I may be labouring the point somewhat, but the message is clear. We had 4 first team players arrive at the ground on time on Saturday and it is an absolute joke. Virtually every away game this season will require an overground train journey or a relatively significant drive. There will be problems with transport at the weekend. DO NOT AIM TO BE ON TIME, AIM TO BE EARLY. You are the first team of a first division side so it is time to start behaving like one. If you are late, you will lose your place in the side. You have been warned.
Anyway, with less than ideal preparations we looked to build on our first win of the season. 4-2-3-1 with a few small changes, the skippers shoulder will be in Quasimodo territory for 6 weeks, McVey out with a gammy wrist for 4. This paved the way for Monero to tuck in at centre half and fans favourite, Matt ‘The Hammer’ Hillier to start at left back. Civil Service’s next fixture will see them line up at Buckingham Palace, however as stand in skipper Martin Egan ‘geed up’ the lads before kick off, this must be have seen an awful long way away.
The early parts of the game were relatively open, with chances coming at both ends. ‘The first goal is massive’, was my analysis, McVey was unimpressed but he was also smashing back £5 worth of chicken nuggets. AP got out of jail, when their jinking winger eluded Hillier, which is more difficult than shaking off your shadow and whipped one across the goal. Their forward blazed one on the full from just over 6 yards, a sitter. Down the other end, the front 4 were lively with their movement and Ronnie was on the bustle, free from 50% of the on pitch abuse that usually comes from myself.
It was AP who made the breakthrough, countering through Matt, who slipped in Ronnie. As the man himself rather arrogantly put it, in that situation there was ‘only one outcome’. Ronnie rounded the keeper and cooly tucked home on his left peg. 3 in 3 for the big man and 1-0 AP. Civil could have hit back almost immediately, Egan steps out of the backline appealing for offside with such confidence and disdain that it basically works as hypnosis on SAL referees. However, this year we have linesmen, which makes things a little more tricky. We stepped up, the flag stayed down, and their forward could only scuff wide when in on goal.
At half time, concentration was the message, ‘warn against complacency’ if you were playing FM. AP went out and did just that, albeit unintentionally, turning the game into a really scrappy one. Defensively, we were excellent with great shape from the back 4 and tireless work from Hubbard and Nicholau in front of them. We could, and probably should have extended our lead on the break but we squandered a couple of chances to put the game to bed. The fact that we could inject the fresh legs of Andy Brown, Dan Gunyon and Phil Gallagher was a testament to the depth we have got, the latter coming within a whisker with a curling strike.
Civil were reduced to ten towards the end a cynical challenge with Matt Kelly in on goal. I unintentionally became everything I had ever hated, vigorously waving an imaginary card in jeans and jumper from the side. Granted, I looked like a prat but it really was that obvious. Egan almost put the cherry on top, in what would have been possibly the greatest moment in football history. For a 10 second period, he became a German looking Yaya Toure, cutting out a ball 30 yards from our own goal, charging up the pitch and unleashing a searing half volley following a one-two. Unfortunately it flashed just wide, and Egan, with the reddest face in South London, returned to his station.
The game petered out to a close, AP defending set pieces and long throws really well, Civil having just the one opportunity which was barged into oblivion by Lee Carlin. So it finished 1-0 and AP banked an excellent 3 points on the road.
Not one for the purists, however, I have never professed to being one. 6 points from 9 games is a great start but it is only that. We need to kick on and use this momentum to get points on the board. Our away record is absolutely incredible, since the start of the 2011/2012 season, we are unbeaten away from home and have only dropped 2 points in the process. Seemingly, nobody wants to ruin the away day p*ss up. That said, we have Nottsborough away coming up a week Saturday, about as difficult as it gets and we will need to be at our best to take anything. That said, I know the lads will be bang up for it (and arrive on time) to really get stuck in (‘they don’t like it back there….do they Park?’)
Enjoy your free week and let’s kick on against Notts. Come on AP.
MOM : Martin Egan. An absolute monster performance as stand in skipper. Didn’t lose a header within 30 yards off him, covered the channels like a gazelle. Ages like a fine Brut.
Sponsors MOM : Matt Hillier
Team : Pennycook, Carlin, Egan, Monero, Hillier, Nicholau (Gunyon), Hubbard, Morris, Kelly, Fernee (Gallagher), Adjekwei (Brown)