Alexandra Park 9s 2 – Polytechnic 7s 1

AFA Junior Novets Cup | November 22, 2014

Scorers: C.Wilson, Springer

To mention again the lead up the Saturday was stressful, Saturday was just as stressful, but enough badgering on about that.

This week was the first of my seasons 9s tenure where we didn’t start on the front foot. The opposition were of top quality and were 2 divisions above us and unbeaten in their respective division in South London. They were most likely confident of victory, but little did they know. Before I continue I would like to say a massive thanks to previous games Man of Match club and stalwart Steve Pollard. Also to Bryan King who kindly offered to referee the game, a true gent and club man (unfortunately not by giving us any extra decisions!).

With our formation being untested in the wide open areas of a school I am glad I never had to goto and the amalgamation of new ones players, anything could happen. Polytechnic started well, they passed the ball around and showed great movement. Fortunately for us they hadn’t truly threatened, largely due to a defensive trio of M Pollard, Robinson and Alec Wright. They had much more work to do than other weeks due to the barrage that our midfield faced from the quality opposition. Time went by, and albeit on the backfoot we still looked strong and the game continued at 0-0. Gavin Minton in a lonely role up front, I offered him zero support, but he ran well and didn’t give up, he even came back to help in midfield.

After completing the first half subs we continued in much the same fashion. Oliver Peach managed to get himself free of a player and was felled down by the opposition. Chris Wilson managed to get his hands on the ball for the free kick as Jon Gallaway wasn’t willing to sub himself on just to take the free kick. On a wet pitch handling the ball was always going to be an issues, thankfully Chris kept this in mind and kept his free kick on target. A clean free kick into the corner of the goal. Not quite a goal against the run of play but a goal nonetheless.

Confidence was boosted because of the goal and the opposition became wary we could cause them some trouble today. Peach once again broke free and played a good one-two with Mike. He then released the ball out wide to Gerry, who put in a great cross along the ground which was sent home by the new Shane Springer. It was a big debut goal and put us two nil up.

Half time approached, there could be nothing bad to say, we were doing well. Forgetfully expecting that Polytechnic might change their formation, we kept things the same with the standard rotation of substitutes. The game was more open in the middle of the park, the game was quickly stretched. There was the temptation to gamble on the 3rd goal to kill the game but you don’t go all in on two Jacks. The game was tense and tight and I looked for us to hold out.

There were cries from players to adjust the formation to cope with the attacking nature of the opposition, they were resisted. With around 30 minutes to go, after around 10 failed attempt to clear the ball, including one struck against my back, 4 miskicks and some luck for the opposition they crossed the ball in to be headed home for an outstretched Paul Williams.

They were back in the game, it was tight. The game still being open. I tried to plug the gaps in the middle of the park, but it was a difficult affair. We had a few chances to finish off the game, we were attacking well in parts. Winning many a throw in on the right hand side in attacking positions. A few attacking free kicks led to nothing also. Minton had a strike, but it was outside of the post, I knew a goal now would finish the game.

With Polytechnic attacking and a potential 30 minutes of Extra time on the cards, we had to stay resilient. The opposition were in our box, but we had magnitudes of men behind the ball. I give great credit to the opposition for not going down under contact, twice their players were tripped but stayed on their feet. With very few minutes remaining a ball over the top from Polytechnic was gloriously touched down, hearts were in mouths… onrushing Paul Williams made himself as big as possible, made with further ease as Paul hadn’t played football in a while. He pushed the ball over the bar, saved a definite goal and was a great save. The whistle blew after a long second half, victory was in our hands.

It was a great win, and with no disrespect to our previous opponents these guys were very good. In a game played quite defensively, there were some great performances. Minton hassled and ran well. Wilson and Springer both scored. Peach hurried well in the middle and attacked well, alleviating pressure on our midfield. Paul did a match saving save and look solid throughout. Robinson defended well, some great defensive headers, Alec Wright was immense and brilliantly judged when to make the tackle and when to stand up and hold firm. But once again a courageous performance, described as “a wall”, “quality”, “a rock”, “an animal”, and all by the same person. So this week he takes Man of the Match.

It really was a great win. Some tweaking required here and there, but onwards to the next game.

MoM: Wright

9th Team / Match Reports