Old Finchleans 6s 1 – Alexandra Park 7s 3

SAL Minor Div 3 North | March 7, 2015

Scorers: N’Gola(2), Spencer

After a 5 week layoff due to a decidedly damp February we turned up at Oakhill Park in balmy spring sunshine. I was concerned that we might be a bit rusty and we couldn’t afford any more slip ups in our late promotion push. Still we were facing a side we knew a lot about having already beaten them twice this season, and nearly gotten into fights in both occasions. We knew we would be in for a physical contest. For a while I was wondering if we were in the wrong place as the oppo didn’t rock up and start putting nets up till 10 mins before kick off. At least they had brought along their Pit Bull named Tyson to savage us if we won!

The game started in pretty scrappy fashion, the pitch had clearly taken a pounding by the weather and was extremely bobbly. In the first 20 minutes our pass completion percentage was running at about 8%, while it was virtually impossible to run with the ball and chances were few and far between. Things were fairly even, but we grew into the game, with Tris getting a couple of half chances. Charlie had come in for the injured gaffer and added composer and solidity at the back. On 35 mins the introduction of Banny and Ditmar swung things in our favour, with Terry moving more central where he could start influencing the game. Then the breakthrough came, Banny chased a high through ball, the keeper came for it but couldn’t get near it as it bounced in our favour and Banny nodded home. We went into half time 1-0 up.

The second half began and we were caught napping. An unnecessary free kick was given away in the middle of the park and a decent ball into the box wasn’t dealt with. The ball dropped to the feet of a Finchleans player who made simple work of smashing it into the net. It was 1-1 and we had it all to do again. However the second half was a like a different match, the game opened up and chances appeared at both ends. We had ours with Banny heading a great chance wide and Tris having a decent effort saved. But Gus also kept us in it, making two fantastic saves, one when their player went through, he was quick to come and meet him, closing the angle and parrying it out. The second was a reflex diving save into the left corner, which he turned round the post. At the other end Sam had a fabulous dipped half volley from outside the box acrobatically saved by their keeper. As the half wore on we started to take control, with Jack and Roman locking down the midfield, Sam and Terry spraying balls forward and Robin taking the game to them down the right. Still the game was on a knife edge and my nerves were jangling. So I was thankful when we were able to grab a second. It came from a corner, a great whipped ball from Sam was met by Tris who headed towards goal. What happened next I’m not quite sure, but Banny, the defender and the keeper all went for it and somehow it was scrambled home. As he peeled away in celebration no one could deny Banny his 10th goal of the season, and it was 2-1.

In the latter stages Dan came back into the fray and looked sharp up front, getting in behind the Finchleans back line. Unfortunately two great chances to wrap up the game went begging, the second should have been tucked away as Dan raced beyond the defender only to put it agonisingly wide. Then at the other end we really rode our luck. I’m sure a somewhat panicky lofted back pass was not what Gus wanted, but as he rushed forward I watched aghast as his attempt to control it with his chest and dribble past two Finchlean forwards resulted in the ball in the back of our net. Thankfully the ref had seen something I hadn’t and blew for a foul on the keeper (which Gus later informed me was an elbow in the back putting a stop to his mazy run)! Still we survived the scare, and it was with great relief that Dan finally put the tie to bed with a classy finish having broken the offside trap, 3-1. It was a good end to what had been a difficult test. Still it was no more than we deserved, having played the better football for the most part.

There were several good performances, with Tris holding the ball up well and showing ‘a good touch for a big man’, Banny getting his two goals and Roman making a solid debut. I was please in particular with the defence, James worked hard to shut everything out, while Charlie showed his class dominating in the air and carrying it forward. But I’m gonna give man of the match to Mike for his commitment and winning every header despite not being the tallest player on the pitch.

MoM: Myers

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