Alexandra Park 8s 2 – Crouch End Vampires 1

SAL Minor Div 4 North | April 18, 2015

Scorers: Arowosafe, Lepkowski

After the disappointment of the Winchmore draw (in which we’d controlled play without finding the win), it was great to bounce back against one of the league’s promotion hopefuls. Mike Pollard came into the backline alongside Uli and was utterly superb, with Spinks battling and Asim throwing himself into challenge after challenge. In midfield, Korek and Cowen were up for the physical challenge and on a tight pitch Cass and in particular Varrall were finding real joy going forward with quality out wide. Emmanuel gives the 8s a new dimension up top with his pace, and when rotating with top-scorer Glassar and the evergreen Lepkowski (playing back to back after the Legends game) the 8s have a real variety to the attack. James Kennedy and Derek offered composure and quality on the ball when called upon.

In a tight first half, the deadlock wasn’t broken. Varrall had come closest, desperately unlucky to hit the far post with a curling effort on one of many promising forays down the left. Frustration for the Vamps, who needed victory in their promotion chase, was bubbling over. Challenges were becoming later, whilst reactions to decisions were becoming more hostile – with Emmanuel the victim of a particularly undue verbal onslaught just before the break after being blatantly fouled. The half-time team talk was about keeping our cool. Physically, we were matching the Vamps at their own game – it was time to beat them at ours.

A touch of class gave us the lead. Cowen flicked on to Arowosafe, who took an elegant first touch, powered into the area and fired into the roof of the net with aplomb. Get in! More chances were followed but it was the Vamps who found an equaliser… 1-1 and as the game veered from end-to-end, Gustavo made a crucial, quality save to keep us level.

With about 20 minutes to go, the Vamps aggression swung the game in AP’s favour. Harrison was scythed down by a hard and late tackle… no major harm done, but after receiving his warranted booking, the Vamps midfielder let his teammates down. After being repeatedly warned, he continued a foulmouthed tirade of dissent which led to a second yellow and a red. He wasn’t finished there. A short delay to the game followed as he initially refused to leave the vicinity of the field, potentially swearing his way into more punishment until one of his more level-headed teammates saw sense and led him away.

The deserved winner wasn’t far away. Arowosafe laid off Spinks to swing into the box, the danger wasn’t cleared and Stephen scrapped the ball back into the box. Cometh the hour, cometh the man – who else would you want the ball to fall to but Gerry Lepkowski? The Scot cooly slotted past the keeper. 2-1.

An inevitable barrage of long balls followed, but the defence coped admirably – marshalled by MOTM Pollard. We’d earned a deserved and highly satisfying win. A further red card followed after the whistle as our opposition “thanked” the referee for his efforts. A big, big win. Well done lads!

Up the 8s.

by John Spinks

MoM: Mike Pollard

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