Bank of England Reserves 0 – Alexandra Park Reserves 1

SAL Intermediate Div 2 | March 7, 2015

Scorer: Taylor

From the pains of last weekend’s loss to the panes of Bank of England’s illustrious windows, our profligacy in front of goal has proved costly to both us, and now BoE, as a Dan Wilding (aka last weekends man of the match, Dan Wildibg) wayward volley found glass instead of net. The full back was at his elegant best for the rest of the weekend though, and it was no surprise he had a hand in the only goal of the game: a sumptuous curling delivery whipped in at pace for Mark Taylor to meet. The super sub still had a lot to do mind, but managed to guide the ball with a bullet header from the edge of the box past the despairing keeper and into the far corner. Thus concluded the smash (quite literally) and grab in Barnes. But I’ve gotten way ahead of myself and ruined the cliffhanger ending now. Let’s rewind a little:

The game started a little more ominously than the grandstand finish, with seven guys sitting down a little nervously whilst Keith chewed through the jiffy bag of oranges that Bank of England’s affable rambling caretaker had kindly given us for half time. The tentative silence was ostentatiously broken by Keith’s kitsch mobile ring tone announcing an update in our team mates battles to get to the ground. As people began to filter into the changing room it was becoming apparent that we would be without a fair bit of the muscle in our team as Dave McLoughlin’s car – inhabited by Dave, Mike Graves, Taylor and crucially our footballs – would not make it in time for the whistle. Mercifully we boasted 11 players beside the stranded three and not a square peg in a round hole lined up for kickoff after a furtive game of piggy in the middle with a borrowed ball.

The tepid warm up may have contributed towards a lacklustre first half an hour. The ball was definitely more slippery than average, and we were certainly out of sorts with having a flat pitch to play on (despite a semi final going on, we’d been treated to the expansive pitch 1 at the notorious ground). What ever the reason, we could not pick out a team mate for the life of us. Adam Reader was thanklessly running channels and chasing lost causes. Ollie Hubbard was once again playing piggy in the middle as their midfield interlinked with the attack effectively. Not even the arrival of our estranged colleagues ten minutes in could pick up our performance. The issue seemed to be psychological: Playing on a large pitch was making the defence a little cautious and had us sitting a little deeper than we probably should have been. An offside trap was looking a bold, if not foolhardy prospect as the referee was struggling to keep up with play: but we weren’t exactly helping ourselves.

My last match report ended with a manifesto to not concede three goals in the first hour. A preposterous notion that seemed to be going unheeded with the exception of one man who didn’t even read the report: Lloyd Edwards must have taken exception to the reference to England in our opponents name – what with it being Rugby season and all – and despite the six nations taking a break, the Welshman certainly wasn’t putting his feet up (figuratively speaking, as he was actually raising his feet to block many a shot). He was having a running duel with the striker I was supposed to be marking, and made some solid saves to keep us level: the kind of reaction stops which looked easier than credited purely because his initial positioning was so exceptional.

It took a substitution with ten to go in the half to drag us back into the game with Graves acting as a more robust outlet for our long balls. The utility man was bringing Leslie Manu into play and a cutting dribble across field by Manu had us create our first chance of note with Ozan Gunes pulling his shot wide. Graves went close with an attempt of his own later and we looked like the more threatening team going into the second half.

Not much to say at half time. Not many oranges either. But we knew if we carried on where we left off and tightened the banks between midfield and defence we should get something out of the game. BoE were starting to look a little jaded in the middle and possibly a little dejected at not being a goal or more up. But such is football, and when the referee adjudged Wilding to have brought down their winger just outside the box rather than awarding a penalty, and then ignoring another player going down in the box under the attention of Reader, the writing did seem to be on the wall. We needed to score first though and with time running out the game did seem to be heading towards a draw. Cometh the man, cometh the hour as with 10 minutes to go Keith introduced Taylor into the game and with possibly his first touch he (not for the first time the season) delivered us a crucial three points.

Time enough to weather what seemed to be an eternity against a team who still looked very dangerous on the counter. Indeed a fast break by their tricky left full back had us ironically relying on Bank of England to bail us out. Thankfully his final pass squared the ball to Edwards rather than their open striker. After that we sat a little deeper, defended a little narrower and saw the game out relatively comfortably.

So a big ugly win against a decent team who had beaten our closest rivals comfortably the weekend prior; a team who’ll hopefully take some points off Actonians this weekend too. A pleasing change of roles, considering the losses we’ve accrued this season whilst being the better team. Credit to Keith for two crucial substitutions in the game, and Ozan who won everything in the centre and spurred our revival in the second half. Johnny Hammond was also faultless and Les Manu put in a fine captain’s performance! Next up Carshalton in our last home game of the season: Let’s toast our final pasta and gravy with a win!

MoM: Edwards

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