Scorers: McVey, Kelly
Following a dearth of match reports, the first team summary returns with yet another tale of woe. ‘You make your own luck in this game’, nine times out of ten is a phrase uttered by somebody likely to be a prat. It does however hit the nail on the head when trying to explain another AP disappointment on Saturday.
The attitude, application and preparation were miles better than the week before. We were well prepared for a Civil Service side who had won 3 on the spin to pull themselves above us in the relegation battle.
If there is a word that could sum up the first hour, it would be comfortable. The oppo had a new number 9 who had apparently been terrorising the division in their recent upturn of form. He got absolutely nothing from our centre half pairing, as Civil lacked ideas beyond the speculative through ball in behind. We looked dangerous on the break and a nice break from left to right saw McVey slot home to give us a 1-0 lead. Civil had a chance late on in the half that was blazed over.
The only time confusion really arose was the frequent application of the most bizarre interpretation of offside rule I have seen at any level. What is ‘active’, what is ‘inactive’, the pitfalls of the modern laws are plentiful. On Saturday afternoon however, ‘inactive’ was taken to new extremes, with the flag only being raised when an offside player literally touched the ball. This lead to the comical situation where the oppo forward ran 40 yards to close down Stu from an offside position, with the flag only being raised once a bemused Stu had allowed the striker to put a toe on the ball.
Having questioned this decision, we were told that we didn’t understand the rules. So for future reference of all AP teams, charging directly and deliberately towards the ball from an offside position is therefore NOT ‘making a gesture or movement which, in the opinion of the referee, deceives or distracts an opponent’ No distraction there.
Anyhow, we were a goal to the good at half time and had played pretty well. More of the same was the order but we weren’t quite able to replicate our attacking threat. That said, with 20 to go it had the feeling of a game that might just be drifting towards a 1-0 win. There wasn’t great quality from either side and very few opportunities. However, out of a nothing channel ball, Ricky missed his kick for their skipper to stroll in on goal and slot home. It was a cruel one and shouldn’t blight an absolute monster performance at centre half. As I know too well, just the perils of a position.
We battled back, albeit in a somewhat laboured fashion. The game was all of a sudden wide open with both sides looking for the winner. With 3 minutes left to play, we probably all thought we had got it. Matt has been amongst the goals and seized on indecision between their centre halves, to power in on goal and roll home. Good finish under pressure.
With those situations, you always have one more attack to repel and we had yet another ‘what-if’ to add to the list. A soft free kick was thrown into the box at a point where one solid clearance probably would have brought about the final whistle. However, a number of bobbles and air kicks later, it found its way to a civil player who smashed home.
2-2 full time and utter deflation. It was a good performance against an in-form team, I couldn’t ask for anymore from the lads by way of effort. Unfortunately, it’s fine margins in the top division. We can bemoan our misfortune but over a 20 game season, you get what you deserve. This is one of a handful of games this season where we have taken a point where we should have had 3. It has happened too often to be luck.
Entirely honestly, we need a miracle to stay up at this point. The league is so congested that we will need at least 9 points from a possible 12. That said, 6 of those will be to play for against Winchmore Hill who are down there with us. If you want to go all Opta about it, every single point we have taken this year has come from 5th position downwards.
What we can take heart from, but what is also so frustrating, is that when we have had decent availability and prepare properly we give anybody a game. We just need to give ourselves the best possible chance.
MOM : The back line defended better than 2 goals would suggest, Jay Hughes linked play very well up top. However, Les Manu was at his direct, near unplayable best down the left hand side. Has been excellent since coming up a couple of weeks back.
AP : Pennycook, Carlin, Patterson, Shaw, Hillier, Nicholau , Hubbard, Manu (Fernee), McVey, Kelly, Hughes (Gunyon)