Alexandra Park 9s 2 – Norsemen 7s 3

SAL Minor Div 4 North | October 3, 2015

A full squad arrived to the Racecourse for the 9’s the first league game of the season. After two loses so far this season, we were determined to improve on previous performances. This, unfortunately, was not helped by the lack of a competent goal keeper, and we were forced to resort to putting the largest player between the posts in the hope that shots would hit him and rebound off!

After winning the toss (the first thing I’ve won all season!) I had that difficult decision that many of the best premier league mangers and captains have to contemplate, do you play uphill or downhill in the first half? We opted for Uphill, as that’s what Gus wanted 2 weeks ago and I figure he had a reason for it (something to do with the Sun and goalkeeping). So the AP 9’s lined up in the classic 4-5-1 formation ready to put right the poor cup performance of 2 weeks ago.

The squad consisted of a few players making their AP debut, and some more their first game for the 9’s. We stated off shakily, and were on the back foot early on. Under sustained pressure and quite frankly an abysmal piece on goalkeeping (sorry lads) we were one goal down within the first 15mins. An attempted cross by a Norseman player floated over our goalkeeper and into the top corner. It was a poor start. After this first setback we started to get the ball down and play some decent football. Once we starting stringing a few passes together we created a few chances of our own. Ben and Bart were causing the opposition particular difficultly on the wings, and Gerry kept finding himself in good positions in the centre of the park. eventually a mistake by the Norsemen keeper caused him to spill the ball, and Crofty, like any great striker, was in the right place at the right time to take advantage. We were level again at 1-1. All was looking pretty even for the next ten minutes or so, when, not for the first time, injury struck the 9’s. Gerry pulled a Hamstring and will be out for a few weeks yet (it’s times like these I empathise with Eddie Howe!). A quick rearrangement and a few subs and the 9’s were back with a vengeance. Unfortunately it was at this point the Norseman team broke down the right wing, put in a cross that our keeper failed to come and claim, and a header by their striker (who I have since been informed usually plays for the 4’s) put Norsemen 2-1 up, which is how the first half ended.

After a rousing half time team talk, and no playing downhill, we started the second half with a surprising amount of confidence given that we were losing. We looked solid going into the second half, with our defence putting in some fine performances. The second half also saw rise to some fancy footwork by the 9’s, with classy flicks from Asim, Kaan and Heddy, and Ben running circles around their fullbacks. It was only a matter of time before we broke them down again, with a run coming down the left wing, a great cross into the box and a strong headed finish by Robert Holder for his 4th (I think) of the season. I knew it was too good to last, and Norseman with re-galvanised after we drew level again. Both sides were having equal possession, but it was Norsemen who got the next goal. Another break down the wing and header into the top corner. A more agile keeper would probably have reached it! Feeling that we were equal to our opposition AP got our heads up quickly and attacked solidly for the rest of the match. Highlights were a suburb ball by Jon and a great run by Robert, who lobbed the keeper beautifully and the ball bounced into the top corner. It was a brilliant equaliser, or would have been if it hadn’t been incorrectly disallowed for offside! Ben also managed to break again down the right wing, was one on one with the keeper who unfortunately made a good save.

Overall it was a positive performance by the 9’s, and I was impressed by our determined play and unwillingness to give up on the game, we deserved a point! There is great potential there and out first win is coming, I can feel it!

MOM: Joe Nichols, who was solid at the back for his AP debut – well played!

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