I believe my last AP match report came from the top deck of the number 8. A contrast indeed, as the run down of the opening day is currently being ‘penned’ from 35,000 feet en route to Johannesburg. It is surely the first AP match report to have created at this altitude and probably across 3/4 countries. Pioneer.
Any AP members who were fortunate enough to sit in my vicinity on the recent trip to Geneva will know I am not a good flier. Therefore, if this report is extensive in nature, do not put it down to narcissism, more so a means to take my mind of the situation. Also, if the grammar begins to lurch towards the end, it can be attested to the in flight whiskey that is helping me through the above. I arrived at Old Lyonians….
- Intrigued. It was a much changed AP side with a lot of technical ability.
- Impressed. The Lyonians pitch was up there with the bank pitches of South London. Absolutely resplendent.
- An hour early. John Morris erred on the side of caution on the opening day. I wouldn’t have told him at the time but I am actually a big fan of extreme earliness on match day. Excellent work.
We went 4-3-3, built by Cruyffs Holland, perfected by Allardyces Bolton. Lyonians had come up from Div 3 and had many a new face from our days of playing them there. We started well, having Laurence and Ben in respective full back roles gave us a good platform to play out and we had good success doing so. We were getting joy in the wide areas and were creating half chances in the opening 20. Matt Kelly headed (headed) one just wide, Kevin Frugier lifted one past the post.
The deadlock was broken about half an hour in. If there is one thing John Morris loves, it’s an exotic wideman (see Zangl, Patrick and the man known only as ‘Jezza’) and on this occasion it looks like we have come across an absolute gem. Kevin has emerged at AP by way of Cannes and he stood out on Saturday like a clumsy link to the well known film festival in a match report. Anyhow, as if it was scripted, 30 minutes into his debut he drove into the area, fleet of foot and lifted very nicely into the far corner. 1-0 AP.
We ramped up the pressure from there and began to really threaten. It was 2-0 shortly after and for all our tidy football, it was a good old fashioned set piece that brought it about. The dead ball delivery was top notch all day, this time around Matt swung one in, Ozan got up well and guided it back across goal. It dropped into the far corner and we went it with a deserved 2-0 lead.
It was a good first half showing but I stressed to the lads at half time that we needed to put the game to bed. The massive pitch meant the game was being played at quite a slow pace (for the SAL) and if we drifted through without killing it, they might pinch one from somewhere and make it nervy.
Alas, it did go a little flat and we gave Lyonains a little hope. To be fair, they tried to play decent football but probably didn’t quite have the incisiveness required in the final third. We continued to create (and miss) decent chances. Matt was excellent with his back to goal and in the channels but didn’t quite have his shooting boots on. And so, as a self fulfilling prophecy, we let Lyonians back into it. We looked pretty assured at the back but didn’t deal with a cross and it was turned home from close range. 2-1 with 15 to play and we started to get a bit jumpy. It could have turned to disaster had a goalmouth scramble not come up in our favour but somehow, it stayed out. As they always say, if you want a job doing, do it yourself. Patterson (that would be me) stayed up from a half cleared corner, the excellent Harry Thatcher stood up a cross into a great area and the resulting header was thudded high, hard and home. We calmed down a little and could have extended the lead further in the closing stages but 3-1 AP it finished.
A good win and a good performance. Lyonians played the right way but there will be sterner tests ahead. However, exciting times for this new look side. There was a really positive atmosphere amongst the lads. The back 4 wanted to receive the ball, the midfield 3 of Ozan, Lee and Harry were superb and worked incredibly hard and we have some serious options and pace going forward, with Ron still to come back. By no means are we getting carried away but after last season, it’s a nice feeling to win, and win well.
In addition that, a special shout out to Stu for going above and beyond by getting through the 90. Having been up in Glasgow to answer 3 questions on Channel 4s 15/1 (genuinely, keep an eye out for it), he got a nasty infection which made his face swell up. Half way between Popeye and the Elephant man, he soldiered on and was very solid.
Vamps Saturday which I imagine will be a very different game altogether. Time to roll up the sleeves. I began this match report just off the South Coast of England and I sign off just outside Tunisia, so it has at least kept me occupied. I shall however be back for the Derby next week and hope to see you all there. Come on AP!
AP: Pennycook, Pickford, Patterson, Egan, Fernee, Jay, Gunes, Thatcher, Frugier, Kelly, Manu. (Nye, Dan, M Hubbard)