Goals: Kadua, Brade
Nothing quite says pre-season like Donkey Lane. Goals more tape than metal, grass up round the knees and thankfully, incredibly small pitches. Another patchwork AP first XI lined up against Old Garchonians, who have decimated both the
Third and Second Divisions in recent campaigns. Wedding season had hit, meaning John Morris had to innovate to create something resembling balance with the 11 available.
Despite a rushed warm up consisting of 2/3 sprints and a couple of ‘heading the invisible ball’ jumps, we started off very well. Garchonians had defeated us in the most one sided 1-0 ever last pre-season and I was worried we might not see an awful lot of the ball. However, the first 30 minutes consisted largely of incisive AP breakaways, ‘big headers’ and lots of very, very poor set pieces. The pace of Les, Nana and Ashley was causing all sorts of problems and complemented by the red faced guile of Jack Morris, there were moments of real quality. We deservedly took the lead when Ricky switched a superb ball into the path of Nana, who controlled well and tucked inside the near post.
Garchonians inevitably worked their way back into the game, some nice moves down the left causing aggro to auxiliary full back Martin Egan. A weekend on the cricket tour of Kent, unlikely to have been ideal preparation when facing
a wide man likely half his age. Egan battled through until half time, as did AP, and a 1-0 half time lead was probably about right.
Garchonians came out strong second half, buoyed by the introduction of Judas himself, Rob Hubbard. A furious AP faithful would have surely given him a torrent of abuse, had they been in attendance/existence. As it was, it was left to me after a couple of ropey touches to tell him not to choke on his debut. Needless to say, he curled in a fine strike with his next touch to make it 1-1. Life.
The parity was short lived, not the most intricate of AP build ups but a lovely finish. Jack managed to turn a thrown in into an ‘area’, and it broke to Ashley who slotted home from a very tight angle.
We were absolutely knackered and struggled to keep the ball as the second half wore on. Garchonians eventually levelled with an archetypal ‘soft goal’, a set piece that drifted all the way in with the AP back line far too deep. 2-2, and so it finished. A good work out, an encouraging performance and a game played in the right spirit. Garchonians are a good bunch of lads and I think they will have a shot at the Div 1 title if they have a bit of luck.
On the AP side, some really positive performances. We defended pretty well for the most part, Ricky winning almost
everything. Les was absolutely outstanding on the left, as he has been all pre-season. He is one of a few players I give the advice to not to play it simple, as he is totally unplayable when running at backlines. Alleyn was his
usual box of tricks, despite John calling him ‘Alexis’ for 60 minutes.
Also a special mention for Jed and Ashley for coming up, working themselves into the ground and putting in very good performances. I would love for them to stay with the rebuilding 1s, as they could add a lot of quality.
On to the next one with optimism, despite my personal wedding unavailability. Come on AP!
AP : GK, Thatcher, Patterson, Shaw, Egan (Tom), Kadua, Alleyn, Wood, Manu, Morris, Brade