Goals: Milligan (3), Kortevoss (2), Glassar
On Sunday, having brought 3 points home from Potters bar, I found myself thinking back to the opening day of the season (OK, I didn’t actually, but I’m running out of original ways to start match reports.)
Many of you may remember that our first league game, against Southgate Olympic, saw us race into a 3-0 lead by half time, which meant that while the second 45 was still hard work, the result never really looked in doubt. “This Captaincy lark is easy” I probably giggled to myself complacently on the sideline at the time.
Since then it’s all proved rather less straightforward and a great number of our subsequent wins have instead been very much in the balance at half time. However, even for a team that has made more comebacks than Rocky, this one against Old Owens was a bit special, as with 20 mins to go we were 2-1 down against a team with no points – not exactly title winning form.
Before the game we spoke about making a good start and not giving them something to fight for. About ninety seconds later we were 1-0 down and only the presence of Andy’s daughter prevented me from vocally inventing some new swear words. A lax pass sent Owens on the counter and their mysteriously good number seven (subbed off before half game, ran off towards another game….) looked to have curled one in from distance. Andy pulled off a fantastic save, but Owens were fastest to react to the rebound.
From here the only way was up and it became a bit scrappy and end to end. Some good work down the left saw Louis cross and Pete on the end of it. I thought we might kick on from here, but soon after we were behind again. A long ball down the middle saw their pacey striker latch on and toe it past Andy, and Sam was just unable to keep it out.
I can’t remember much else from the first half apart from Andy making a great save that was given as a goal-kick.
At half time we made the obvious switch to 3-5-2 as we’d had players redundant at the back and been outnumbered in midfield. Straight away we looked a lot better, pressing higher up the pitch and putting Owens under pressure.
Chance after chance came and went, past the post, tipped onto the crossbar, headed over from the goal line, blocked in the box. I imagine it was great for any neutrals watching, but I was starting to wonder whether I would be able to invoice the club for the post-traumatic stress disorder I was developing.
But then it came. Kommt die Stunde, kommt der Mann. A lovely flick from Louis/Pete/Terry? set Jan up and he emphatically half volleyed home.
The floodgates hadn’t just been opened they’d been blown off their hinges. Pete added a third when Louis played the ball to him on the edge of the box and he slotted it into the far right corner. Jan got a fourth when he was set away and finished emphatically in the bottom corner. Louis got the fifth with a sumptuous chip, executed while under pressure from a defender, which caught the keeper marginally off his line.
Pete added the sixth and completed his hattrick with a long range half-volleyed drive that just about reached the goal – fortunately, the keeper flapped at it and kindly added just enough extra momentum to see it over the line. This nudged Pete’s ratio of goals that can be described as ‘embarrassing’ back over the 50% mark.
Somehow there was still time for us to miss another open goal (no names) and for Owens to grab a consolation.
In the end a great win and the belief and hunger to get back into it was incredible. Now we just need to start games like that as well.
I’ll dish out some ‘mad props’ now. Andy was great in goal and made some really important saves to keep us in it. Mike, Oli and Mike were composed and organised at the back, with Jamie filling the gaps intelligently once we switched to a back 3. Pete, Terry and Jack grew into the game showing their ability on the ball. Robin’s energy and pace down the right played a major role in the 2nd half improvement. Charlie again showed great pace and movement, Louis made an instant impact to our squad with his classy forward play and Jan is Jan.
Finally some apologies to Sam, who has been huge for us this season but was sacrificed for the tactical switch and Nick, who gave us some much needed versatility and experience on the bench, but who was difficult to introduce because of the crazy way the game panned out.
Crouch End again Saturday for the fourth, and definitively final, time. We know exactly what it takes to beat them. Let’s take control of the game from the start this week.
MoM: Mike Pollard was excellent for the whole 90 minutes, Jan’s cameo was superb, but Pete Milligan, our very own Frank Lampard, edges it for a hattrick and his role in the turnaround.