Injuries undoubtedly cost us this game, with the squad picking up more knocks than Man Utd in the week before an international friendly – except these ones were genuine.
The loss of Scantlebury (groin), Pope (ankle), Myers (hamstring), and Croft (“I’m done in skipper”) meant that by the end of added time we had a makeshift 11 which included a nobbled striker and two hamstrung/cramped up fullbacks that couldn’t really run. In my case, with running around pretty much all I have to contribute, this meant I was about as useful as that Vamp’s striker’s bookshelf.
Anyway, despite the bad luck, the football was as good as we’ve played (finishing aside). We dominated the first seventy minutes. The new boys Mike, Jack and Charlie fitted straight in and we played some really nice football. Pete hit the post from Charlie’s pullback, with Terry, Robin and Tris also causing them problems. At the back it was all fairly comfortable. My only complaint at half time was that we weren’t positive and aggressive enough in their box. There is nothing worse when watching from the sidelines than repeatedly seeing the ball flash across the box with no-one getting on the end of it!
We did early in the score half, however. Pete got it with a free kick that bobbled its way through a crowded box, like a confused grandad at a party, before somehow bypassing the keeper and dribbling into the back of the net. To give Pete his due though, in recent weeks he has proved he is devastatingly effective at accidentally scoring from set pieces.
For the next five or ten it was all AP. However we didn’t get the second we merited and then the aforementioned injuries disrupted our momentum. They got a pretty undeserved equaliser and from there, with Vamps utilising their rolling subs, it was difficult for us to up our game again. It went to added time and that little bit of extra energy got them the goal although we also had chances to take it to penalties – pretty impressive considering our patched up state.
Unfortunate then and we are out of the cup. That said, if we had been more ruthless when we were on top – at various stages of the game – we would have won and I think Vamps will be feeling fortunate that they pinched it.
We only have the league to focus on now and I expect us to keep playing the great football, but match the dominance with the will to win that has brought us our victories. For AP 6s injuries, unlucky bounces and poor refereeing aren’t to be seen as excuses, they are obstacles we are occasionally going have to overcome as we resume winning ways.
Big game Saturday, let’s make sure we give a good account of ourselves and come off the pitch with no regrets.
Mom: Ummed and ahhed over this. Mike Pollard, Jack and Charlie all had great debuts. Pete had lovely feet in midfield. Jamie was very solid dropping in at the back. Oli edges it for being his usual reliable self though.