Goals: Adjekwei, Hawes
Saturday was one of those days that left me sickened. Not in a Daily Mail, outraged, sickened by modern society way, more a solid boot in the nether regions way. I travelled down in a director of football of capacity due to suspension, donning an absolutely sumptuous piece of oversized knitwear. Despite cries of rascal, I think all in attendance were aware that fashion had met football in a big way.
Zone 6 including a change at Epsom meant that Salesians comfortably picked up the longest away day of the season. Lee ‘Opta’ Carlin kept us entertained with tales of Erik Lamela’s 26/27 goal haul for Roma last season (actual total of 19 goals in 62 games) and the story of when Jay bought a basketball as a teenager. If you bring Jay up in any conversation Lee is actually contractually obliged to tell that anecdote. Ask him to share it one time.
We went 4-2-3-1 on what was a rather decent playing surface, we had bested the oppo 1-0 at the Racecourse earlier in the season so had an element of confidence about us. The first half began with AP play as dazzling as the March sunshine (somewhat) and our front 6 looked lively. Salesians were playing a defensive line from the Tim Sherwood playbook which gave us a decent chance of getting in behind.
We went ahead after 10, Marc worked a yard on his swinger on the edge of box. He got a solidly struck shot off that could only be parried to Joel to tap home. Unfortunately that lead lasted a matter of minutes, either a wild miscue or the best disguised ball of all time caught us napping. With the body shape of a man switching play to the right flank, the Salesians midfielder somehow looped one onto the penalty spot which was tucked home. Bit of a freak goal but a 30 yard straight ball over the top when we were relatively deep should have been eaten up.
All credit, we kept playing in our stuff in what was a decent back and forth. The oppo had more of the ball but we looked dangerous on the counter. Ronnie couldn’t prod home when squaring up the keeper, whilst Stu smothered the best chance at the other end.
Matt Kelly was exceptional down the right hand side, it was probably a good move to get the little chap out of the hustle and bustle of the middle of the park. He made a goal from nothing after half an hour, a half clearance dropped out of the sky. With a beautiful turn and burst, he got into a great area and whipped one onto Ronnie’s head to power home.
2-1 at the half and we were probably good value for it. Egan went off with an inflamed hamstring/face, but fortunately Ricky was waiting in the wings. Salesians grew into the game and began to keep the ball that bit better than us. That said, Stu remained relatively untested and Joel had one off the line. Ronnie then had to come off with a strain, which again exposed the frailties of naming 2 subs in a club of 10 teams.
Disaster struck however, after we couldn’t quite get a definitive clearance from a corner. The ball sat up for their centre half who hit an absolute banger from 25 yards. 2-2. If our defending could have been a touch better for their equaliser, it could have been a lot better for their winner. A clipped corner towards the penalty spot allowed a totally free header back across goal. Decent head but no challenge whatsoever.
We tried to battle back but there was just nothing left in the tank. From the sidelines, just a sickener. There was no lack of ability from AP, we competed well and at this late stage in the season, we look like we have a midfield and forward line that has clicked into gear. That said, Salesians looked a lot fitter than us down the stretch and we couldn’t react when they pushed on the last half hour.
Unfortunately, Saturday has been symptomatic of our season thus far. A blank from a game where we could have taken a point, or even all three. However, the league table doesn’t lie and Parks on Saturday is win or bust. Having been a spectator on Saturday, I can take a lot of confidence from how good we looked in patches. We just need to put it all together and quickly.
MOM : Matt Kelly.