The 6s finished 2013 on a high with a second victory of the season over a tough Finclehians side to return to the top of the table for the Christmas break like some terrible X-Factor ballad.
With a number of unavailables the squad was lean and mean, but also a bit full of Christmas dinner and hungover. We started with a progressive 3-5-2 formation and an aim of dominating the narrow pitch, with the evergreen Wayne, and the hungover green Robin, on the sideline.
Despite having the slope against us we started well and our midfield three were on top. At the back we looked organised and, although the new system meant defenders sometimes lacked cover when OFs broke, Sam, Oli and Mike P were not to be beaten. It was probably the most cohesive three man performance I’ve seen since the Busted live DVD Nick made me watch last year.
On the attack the lack of width meant that Tris and Jan were left a little isolated and the long balls we played into them gave the Finchleans defence plenty of opportunities to physically batter them. You are welcome boys. Nonetheless, when Pete and Terry did get wide and drift into the space we created chances and only some wayward finishing, normally involving a failure to get a clean contact on the final shot, stopped us taking the lead.
With around half an hour gone Finchleians got a goal they probably didn’t deserve. A goal kick fell short but Finchleians were on it quickly, spreading it wide into space and finishing well. This rocked us a bit and we had a bit of a mad five minutes where we could have conceded another. Fortunately we rode it out, broke up the other end and scored. It was all a bit messy but from where I was, trying not to throw up a turkey dinner just outside our penalty area, Tris was maybe fouled, everyone stopped to appeal for a penalty, the defender tried to tackle/clear it and the ball bounced off Jan and looped the keeper.
So we went into the second half level and looking for a winner down the slope. There was plenty of space and we brought Robin on to exploit it, but our finishing and final balls were still either slightly off or thwarted by some decent stops from Finchleans experienced keeper. Additionally when we did look to beat players, with Pete and Jan in particular showing some nice footwork, it was too often down the middle and we were simply crowded out.
We scored with ten minutes to go by pressing high, winning the ball (*cough*, me, *cough*) and playing in Tris, who played in Jan, who finished into the corner. Finchleans put a few balls into the box, mainly from free kicks, but Lloyd’s handling was impeccable. Olly knocked someone out. I incensed the referee by taking a throw on. Wayne almost scored. All pretty standard 6s fare really.
As away wins go this was up there with Southgate as our best of the season so far, as I think OFs are much better than their league position says. Lloyd, Olly and Sam were, as always, rock solid at the back. Nick had his best game of the season at left wing back and contributed massively on and off the ball. Derek patrolled defensive midfield and performed the holding role brilliantly, Terry covered every blade and Pete again demonstrated his skill (despite not managing to shin one in from a set piece). Jan and Tris battled up front and ultimately made the difference. Wayne and Robin came on and gave us the renewed impetus to push on and win. MOM though goes to Michael Pollard for having a stormer.
We are at the halfway stage of the season now and in a fantastic position. A big thanks for your efforts so far and I hope you’re enjoying it as much as I am. We have a few weeks to relax and take stock and then nine massive games to look forward to in 2014. Try and fit a bit of exercise in among the eating and drinking and I’ll see you in January for the title push. Let’s win this division!