Scorers: Wood, Tabram, Bates, Smith, Johnson
As December snuck into the season, having hit the half-way point (there or thereabouts) in the season we arrived at the trusty New River to battle once more against old foes. It had been a tough lesson for the team the previous few months with victories being less plentiful and defeats far more common as many would have liked. Nonetheless the will and determination of these players was something to be admired, a testing, positive yet fruitless match against the mighty Nottsborough the week before had not dampened spirits as we faced an old rival, one who, earlier in the season, magnanimously tore us asunder on their home ground.
But this team has grown, matured and developed over the months, learning from mistakes and developing new found strength and much of it was on show on a cold, muddy New River pitch. Reverting back to a flat midfield 3, with the ever-young Jason Smith back in the fold (albeit temporarily) we looked to stamp our authority onto the match and give us a solid foundation for our attacking talents to flourish. And oh, how it flourished. We took a very early lead, with Jed Wood who, managing not to throw himself onto the ground in the penalty box after a through ball from Nick, simply slotted home within the first 10 minutes. We were rapidly knocked back from the heavens with Winchmore Hill getting an instant equalizer (can’t remember the goal, and let’s be honest, who cares?). But this mattered not to our resolve, again we contained our opponent and waited for an opportunity to strike back and we did not have to wait long. Alex Tabram finishing wonderfully from some slack defending giving us a 2-1 lead. This lead was not to remain for long, however. Sensing weakness we rapidly struck again, our marauding left back Charlie latched onto some fine play from Tabram to (maybe luckily) guide the ball over the onrushing ‘keeper, 3-1 and what a performance!
However, in the 3s we consider ourselves to be showmen and entertainers, and there is little to watch in a one sided match, so duly we gave them a goal in consolation. Such is our kindness to that of not marking anyone from a corner. 3-2. With the roaring fans on the sideline duly entertained, we decided it was time to finish this duel in the first half, this time orchestrated by Nick who dinked the ball over the onrushing ‘keeper (badly it has to be said as the ball deflected up into the air) and watched as the covering defender tried, in vain, to prevent he ball floating over the line. 4-2. But we would not continue to be so cruel, rather than giving them a goal back we felt it unfair to take any more than that lead into the second half and so decided to spurn 4 golden chances in the name of fairness. We felt 8-2 would be too embarrassing.
Half time came shortly after and many an inspirational word was said; “hold tight”, “kick them”, “panic” and other such valiant phrases before heading back into the fray. The second half was different from the first. We had hit them with many a mortal blow but, much like the Black Knight, the opposition continued in their vain attempts to get a result and were closer to hitting the referee than they were to hitting the back of our net (thanks to Matt Thompson’s great last ditch challenge and some fine defending all round). As the final whistle drew near, we decided to cut the head off this beast once more, but not without prancing around in their penalty box for a minute before JJ dealt the killing blow. 5-2.
Alas, there was much rejoicing. Our epic battle had left us absolute victors. Something to build from and take into the next match. Long may our attitudes and abilities continue.