Scorers: Crofts, Hodges, Lepkowski, Rutherford
Following a challenging pre-season involving some 30-40 players the new look AP 6s travelled to Southgate with a strong squad of 14 hoping to start the proper business of the league campaign with 3 points.
It was a relaxed start to the day and our ‘circle of stretching’ centred on Sam educating us about his favourite egg laying mammals. All in all it felt more like some sort of Muswell Hill Mums’ yoga class than a warmup for a big match. Fortunately we didn’t take this casual approach with us on to the pitch; in fact we made a blistering start, playing the kind of attractive football that our lovely new kit deserved.
We took advantage of our early dominance with a great finish from Crofty, heading home after a beautiful cross from the right from Terry. The team was looking fluid and balanced and we added a second ten minutes later when Terry popped up at the edge of the box to half volley a cleared ball, showing great technique to strike across it with the outside of his boot and power a swirling shot past a confused keeper. 2-0 AP.
With a strong bench we started to use the rolling subs but it didn’t disrupt our mojo. Robin was tearing their full-back apart at every opportunity and a tenacious run saw him win the ball back and slip it through to Gerry who was lurking on the left. Despite the distance and the acute angle Gerry curled a delightful shot over the keeper’s head to make it 3-0.
Half time came with AP in control of the game but there had also been warning signs from Southgate. They had been guilty of one bad miss and Lloyd had also made a superb game-changing save at 2-0, tipping a long-range drive over the bar.
In the second half a combination of AP adopting a more defensive mentality and Southgate’s best players getting livelier saw AP dropping deeper, but without Southgate creating much. The ‘laissez faire’ approach of the referee made it difficult for the most skilfull players on both sides to get far without getting a good kicking, but at this stage that quite suited us.
Southgate pulled one back with ten minutes to go after AP failed to deal with a couple of speculative balls, but it was literally minutes until we restored the 3 goal lead. Crofty picked up the ball near the corner flag, megged the defender and delivered a gorgeous cross for our big Aussie defender to steam onto and head in.
In the five minutes left there was just about time for us to give Lloyd some penalty saving practice, which he came through with flying colours (a hattrick of great saves), and for Mike to end up with a fantasy football points rating of about minus 35.
So we finished with a 4-1 win and quality performances from 1-14. Lloyd deserved a clean sheet for his performance. The defence was tighter than Scants’ XL shirt, with Sam physically dominating, Oli sweeping up and Harald and Mike looking rock solid off the ball and composed on it. Up front Crofty and Gerry proved an absolute handful, with intelligent movement, great strength and lethal finishing. In midfield Terry made us tick, pulling all kinds of strings, Robin was unplayable at times, Derek and Scants broke up play and showed excellent distribution and Duane and Jamie worked hard on the wings and kept the tempo high.
A great win and performance to start the season and the benchmark has now been set. We’re just one game down in a long campaign and there are sure to be harder tests to come, but let’s get a win on Saturday against Crouch End in the cup and keep this momentum going.
Mom: Superb performances throughout the team, but as Sam and Terry got the glory of getting on the scoresheet and Lloyd got his triple penalty save, I will give it to Robin – didn’t get the goal he deserved but gave us an extra dimension in attack.
Team: Edwards, Myers, Pugh, Rutherford, Krefting, Law, Graham, Hodges, Watson, Crofts, Lepkowski Subs: Scudamore, Scantlebury, Piner
Post match reaction