The term hero is banded around all too often these days, particularly by Laurence Fernee, particularly in reference to himself. Bank of England is a medium/long away day, but by the end of trip to Barnes it felt like a trip to the moon. Those in attendance from the meet at Vauxhall had heard no less than 5 times the tale of the Friday night fire next door.
Originally, we had heard how following a loud noise next door, Laurence had investigated, to find a relatively sizeable fire alight. He forced his way in the door and assisted in helping ‘his mates mum’ out the front door before the fire brigade arrived. Fair play. A not commendable and out of the ordinary evenings work.
However, by the time we reached the opulent surroundings of the Bank sports ground, it had all gone backdraft. Laurence had entered the towering inferno, fireman lifted half a family to safety with his signature core strength before a lone firemen, in awe of this heroism, demanded Laurence shook his hand.
I think, having many of the team subjected to this story repeatedly had some form of negative impact, one that may explain one of the worst starts I have seen by an AP first eleven in many a year. Whether it left the lads feeling emasculated, or mentally exhausted, we weren’t remotely interested in football between 3-3.30. Laurence has offered the exclusive to this very newsletter, but evidently, read it at your peril.
Anyhow, we were, much like Stu on a Monday morning site visit to Morrison’s in Crawley. All over the shop. Bank hustled and harried, we couldn’t complete a pass. Going the other way, their big Spanish (at a guess) lad was causing problems in the most English of ways. For me as a centre half, putting your name on a header and not winning it is criminal, and I must have done 4/5 times in the first 20 minutes alone. We are yet to find the balance between attack and defence this season and our shape was Keeganesque.
The reference of a ‘12th man’ usually has positive connotations, alas when Matt Hilliers invisible mate decides to show up it can be anything but. Usually taking up station 5 yards off the pitch or in yards of space from a throw in, when the mood takes him, Hills can find him with pinpoint accuracy. Unfortunately, he hung back on our own penalty spot about 15 minutes in, Hills headed in his direction, only for the Bank striker to tap past Stu. 1-0.
It was 2-0 shortly after, an absolute screamer in all fairness. It’s the sort of goal when you are p*ssed off at the time you bemoan the lack of closing down. Ultimately, when someone slaps one in from 25 yards in the SAL you should probably just say fair enough (retrospectively, of course). Bank probably could have extended their lead but we clawed our way back. Ronnie hit the post from a set piece before Kev Frugier halved the deficit. Yet again, he was a bit too good for his own good, being booted around from pillar to post all game. However, he just bounces back up, and after a weaving run infield, he clipped a tidy effort inside the near post.
The proverbial good time to score, and 2-1 at the break. We were the better side for the majority of the second half, although it was a pretty open game. Bank looked a bit knackered from their high early pressing and like a Laurence Fernee story of heroism, significant gaps started to appear.
Despite this, the football lemmings (that stereotype is actually entirely fabricated by the way, look it up) of AP decided on suicide yet again. We lost the ball 25 yards out with the overwhelming majority of our team ahead of the ball, it was 3-1 in a matter of passes.
Entirely honestly, I thought that was our lot with about 20 left to play. However, we have shown more fight than quality in the last couple of games and we kept plugging away. We were gifted a penalty with an absolute mess of a challenge from a half cleared corner. Their big centre forward had eyes only for the ball, which was unfortunate, as he barrelled through his own man and Egan to try and get his head on it. Absolutely no intent, but a challenge only matched in absurdity by the scale of appeals against its award. Matt Soldado Kelly had a take the penalty twice due to encroachment, but as we all know by now, he is very good at that. 3-2.
With the clock ticking, up went the skipper to cause some sort of distraction. After a delicate chip had gone awry, it was time to get back to basics. Kelly hooked on, Patterson sort of let it him on the half turn and a like a suspiciously spherical freight train, Ronnie arrived at pace to slot home. 3-3. There was time for a late chance for Bank but Stu managed to turn away on the stretch.
3-3 it finished. A point earned, rather than two lost in the context of the game. A nice, classy, team talk by the Bank skipper in ear shot of our lads post game, describing how we were essentially sh*t apart from the little French fella. Correct for large parts of Saturday, but also a bit of a shocker for them. To play against 10 other poor players, playing beneath even their poor default ability a good 2/3 of the game and failing to win must be a huge disappointment.
A bit of a shame, because I thought they were handy outfit, who played some good stuff and maybe just ran out of steam following quite an intense start.
Anyway, onto next week and the eternal quest for balance and consistency. Keep an eye out for a dour 0-0 or 10-6.
MOM: Kevin Frugier. Speaks little English so won’t be reading this anyway.