Scorers: Parker, Pugh
After the thrilling derby victory the previous week another long drive up to Barkingside was always going to be a bit of an anti-climax, and behind the scenes it had been a chaotic build up to the game. We had 5 regulars out, then another 2 cry-offs and then to top it off we lost our keeper on the morning on the match… not to mention our top scoring missing kick-off. However it is a testament to the strength in depth that now runs through our club that I knew I would be able to draft in able replacements. And so it was a much changed 6s side that took to the field. Despite this we started the stronger of the two teams. John was holding the ball up well and Marco was making a nuisance of himself up front. Early on John went through on goal and slotted past the keeper, but the whistle had gone for what must have been a very marginal offside decision. In centre midfield Sam looked strong and it was him carrying the ball forward that created the first goal. A driven cross from the left was flicked on and John controlled well and swept the ball home, putting us a goal up. We were playing well and looked dominant. However Old Parks came back at us, and not for the first time this season we switched off. Just as it seemed we would make it to half time ahead Old Parks hit back. The ball into the box went through two players legs (yes mine included) and we were beaten to the ball at the far post, the game was level. We had been giving them way too much space on the wings and so at half time we had a reshuffle, and changed formation.
The second half was as tight as Richard Gibbs. Banny injected some pace up front and we had the better chances, but clear openings were few and far between. However the patched together defence looked reasonably solid and Gus deputised ably in goal. At times we laboured, giving away the ball too easily, and I was disappointed with the lack of tracking back when the ball broke down. It looked like being another frustrating afternoon, but we kept on pushing and battling. Last week we had shown good fight and we weren’t about to give this one up easily. If anyone was going to break the deadlock I expect few would have put their money on the skipper to do it (a man who had never scored an AP goal), but with just 10 minutes to go, that was exactly what happened. A free kick from the left was swung in by Terry, the Parks defender rose but could only flick it on, then time seemed to stand still, the ball dropped and I went for it with everything I had. As I lunged forward boot connected with ball and I watched stunned as the ball crashed into the roof of the net. For a split second there was disbelief, but seeing the celebrations it was time to go wild, we were 2-1 up. The final few minutes called for concentration and lots of it. Parks tried but failed to break us down. Banny had a decent chance to put the game to bed, but he put a free header wide of the post. The team player in me wanted him to bury it, but secretly I was glad Banny didn’t want to steal my thunder! And so it proved to be the winning goal.
All in all, we weren’t at out best. No one I think had their finest game of the season, and we need to improve and get the balance right. That said it is a good sign if you can win when you’re not at your best, and we needed this one. Another 3 points is in the bag. Tempted as I am to award myself man of the match, I’m not Gallaway. John came in for us upfront and looked composed with good control and a good finish, so he gets it this week.