Alexandra Park Reserves 7 – Old Blues Reserves 0

SAL Intermediate Div 2 | February 7, 2015

Scorers: Spencer (2), Gunes, Hubbard, A.Smith, Bolger, Shaw-Morris

Two one-on-one’s missed; the woodwork rattled twice, and a dubious offside given: it would be fair to say we weren’t particularly flattered by the handsome scoreline. There was something of a gulf in commitment and sharpness this weekend which shouldn’t do our confidence any damage before going into this spate of must win games.

Here’s a roundup of the goals:

After a brief opening period of squandering chances, the deadlock is broken about 20 minutes in with a goal of real quality: The ball brakes down the left. Sam Bolger passes infield to Tom Spencer who does what all good strikers do and looks to pass it to the best crosser on the pitch before hightailing it into the box. This results in a beautiful 6 nations inspired play with the ball moving from deep left to right back, bypassing Ozan Gunes through a degree of fortune. An inch perfect cross back to Tom sees the striker barely break stride to rise and head back across goal, past the wrong-footed keeper.

2-0: Another break down the left. Sam cuts the ball back from the byline to yours truly in the box. Clearly knowing my limitations I decide to dummy it for Les Manu who does well to fashion a shot which is rebounded into my path. I try to get another shot away quickly as the keeper is still prostate from Les’ effort and the ball traverses by way of one of their defenders hands past the recovering keeper. The goal stands – despite someone’s protestations for a penalty for the handball – and the crowd go wild!

3-0: When I get on the scoresheet you know the floodgates are truly open. Sensing this, Spencer wilfully presses straight from kickoff, cutting out a meek pass by the centre back with an air of derision. Bolger races ahead through a defence at sixes and sevens and receives the ball on the edge of the area. He could carry on – he’s under no impending pressure – but instead he elects to cooly curl the ball into the far corner to obtain a just reward for a first half performance that he’s been the centre of.

On to the second half. We use the respite to remorselessly unleash Matt Kelly upon an already beleaguered Old Blues side, and the golden boot contender wastes no time affecting things in the business end of the pitch. A well timed run sees him collect the ball on the edge of the six yard box where he is subsequently dragged down by his marker. Ozan Gunes steps up to take the penalty he was so unjustly denied earlier in the game. He confidently dispatches; sending the goalkeeper and driving the ball right into the opposite corner.

5-0: Kelly swings a corner high and deep into the back post. It’s going in as well if not for the guy on the back stick who is edified to nod the ball away. Unfortunately for him though, “away” also happens to be “straight at Mike Hubbard”. The guy has one of those knacks of managing to be in the right place without looking like he ever moves at all. He instinctively swats the ball before it settles and bags the 5th.

6-0: Amongst some pretty scrappy goals in the second half this one’s actually quite decent: With Spencer back on the pitch Kelly is given free reign to do some damage further infield. His and Fraser Shaw- Morris’ quality of movement have proved a breath of fresh air after the unimaginative display in the final third last weekend, so it’s fitting then that the two combine effectively for the 6th: Matt drops deep to collect and has time to assess. Shaw-Morris runs a lovely little American Football style route from the flank and Kelly plays a well weighted through ball into his trajectory as he cuts up the field. The offside trap is beaten all ends up and Fraser has time to draw the keeper out to expose the right-hand side of the goal before he calmly taps the ball through the gap, like he’s playing 5-a-side.

7-0: Capping a stellar introduction to the second team, Nick Bates bags himself a well earned assist. He wouldn’t have got many easier weekends after spending his recent Saturdays battling for the clubs only first division outfit, but he certainly doesn’t look like he’s using the opportunity to have a breather, especially as he dances toward the byline and lays a ball down the corridor of uncertainty. It’s anyone’s ball in the centre as Spencer vies with defender and goalkeeper for the decisive touch. Who am I kidding? It’s Tom’s ball, all day, despite the odds. He stretches to get the decisive touch and apologetically helps the goalkeeper up. It has after all been a tough day at the office for them.

Phew, that’s that: the magnificent seven. But before I wrap this up it would be criminal not to note a few exceptional performances: Mark Taylor once again put in a dominant performance in the middle, Johnny Hammond was a reassuring presence at the back (and was unfortunate to be goaded into a yellow card), and Dave Mac dusted off a 9-iron I had no idea he owned, spraying passes about nonchalantly. Two big fixtures now which could decide our season: Although we can’t kid ourselves into thinking the midfield battle will be won so compliantly, we should be encouraged by our creativity and movement in the final third and use it as a template for the remainder of the season.

MoM: Gunes

2nd Team / Match Reports