Scorers: Dewan, A.Smith(2), Reader
With nine goals in two games so far this season, and six different sources, AP Reserves look like we have a considerable amount of depth in our squad as well as bags of goals!
Things started off well despite it being immediately apparent that we’d be a little more pushed than last week – both metaphorically and literally – as a far more physical Old Stationers team began to close down our free flowing game. Despite this, we found ourselves creating some decent chances with the ever industrious Aaron Akrong proving a real handful for the defence. Unfortunately this rhythm only lasted 15 minutes before tragedy struck as their striker went in a little reckless and late with a shin high stinger on our former captain. The referee bewilderingly deemed the challenge fair and was happy to let play continue if not for the apparent agony that McLoughlin was in. I must confess at this point that I’m a little squeamish when it comes to injuries: Presuming a hairline fracture and envisioning an ambulance (conventional or possibly air) being required to whisk Dave off the pitch, I quickly trotted off to the clubhouse in search of his dying wish (“something cold”).
With both central defenders incapacitated or AWOL, it was left to the skipper and Liam Stevenson to hold down the fort at the back. Not only did they do a sterling job (with Oz throwing in a few Cruyff turns at last man for good measure, but we seemed to be doing a little better on a whole, especially with Alaine driving the play with a little more freedom out of the whole. The deceptively youthful playmaker was unfortunate to see an effort rebound off the post near the half hour mark. Thankfully Ollie Dewan – who seems to have an Ozil-esque quality to his play – was at the right place at the right time for the second week in a row to slot home from the rebound.
Before the end of the half the pendulum swung as a liberal idea of closing down and a cruel deflection left Matt Thompson, – who had an impeccable game by the way – stranded by a long range effort which bounded in. The flukey nature of the goal didn’t stop their goalscorer calling Dave out during his celebration though, pegging the chairman as “an old boy trying to mix it”. They then added injury to insult (to injury) by bagging another in the closing stages of the first half.
A demoralising time to score. We slumped to half time a little dejected; somewhat cowed by the oppositions physicality. Keith took the opportunity to implore us to go back to our original game, and start playing with a bit more expressiveness. The message worked and we started the second half with much more composure. After 20 minutes we got the just rewards of our endeavour as a long “one-two” between James Simpson and I somehow landed me at the byline delivering a cross into the corridor of uncertainty. The ball took a wicked deflection from the first defender, rolled agonisingly behind their keeper and was generously chaperoned into the net by Akrong.
Back on level terms and it seemed as though it’d only be a matter of time before we scored again, as our frequent forays up the pitch were leading to sustained pressure and a decent amount of set pieces. Keith had already talked to us about our set piece structure before the game and it was already paying dividends, with Ozan Gunes coming close with a header. The best quality you can hope for in a corner is consistency, which Dan Wildng happily supplied in his next effort: a peach of a cross which had us queuing to get on the end of. This time I was the lucky recipient and gratefully glanced the ball into the far stanchion for the lead.
This turnaround looked to take all the wind out of Old Stationers sails, as further gaps began to appear whilst they pressed for an equaliser. One of these gaps was aptly extorted as a decisive last ditch tackle by Gunes turned defense into attack as Dewan set Adam Reader through on goal. The nippy striker was returning from a nasty sprain obtained midway through preseason and had been struggling to find his touch thus far in the game. Not a bit of it here though as he bore down on goal and struck neatly under the keeper so decisively that he never looked like he was going to miss.
An industrious and strong performance by everyone; particularly Simpson who was neat, composed in possession and never afraid to put some hard yards in, setting a good precedent for the rest of the team. Onwards and upwards now as we see ourselves become the familiar early pace setters for the league. Let’s stay there this time boys!