And so a glorious day worthy of midsummer greeted us upon our arrival at Old Parks. The pitches looked great and even more surprisingly we had the majority of a team well before KO. Weird.
Fresh from beating Civil Service we were in good spirits and were keen to get another three points, but to their credit Parks were to prove a tough nut to crack. We started with AP’s favourite Jayden in goal and a back for of Jed, Gary, Charlie and Adam. Jed standing in for Fabb who was hit in the calf by a sniper in the warm up. A nasty pull, so best wishes with it Fabb. Midfield was late stand in Nick, skipper for the day Dillon (I know, I must be crazy) and Tom. The wide men were Benson and Kurt with the Banimal up front. On the bench was Jay to enjoy the touchline banter.
This was a fast and furious game in steamy conditions and both sides went for it from the off. We probably edged the early encounters especially in the midfield where Dillon was dominating. Benson was always a threat on the right and a good outlet. Jed was being quality at right back (annoyingly good). Parks were a threat and had a guy playing wide who was packing a set of afterburners. He was proper quick and practically left scorch marks on the turf. Fortunately the experience Gary told and he managed to get him to pull his hamstring. I suspect Kurt’s voodoo doll came into play. After a couple of scares Gary and Charlie settled down and more or less had their forwards in their pockets for most of the game. 25 mins in and Dillon picked up the ball inside their half and strode towards their area brushing off one challenge before unleashing a low drive into the far corner. 1-0 and we probably just deserved it. The half continued in a similar vein with both sides playing at a high intensity with little in the way of clear chances. We certainly created more openings and forced several corners. Unfortunately the ref was being a little bit picky and stopping the game over some very trivial challenges from both sides which was frustrating. When their keeper went down with a twisted knee I thought they might be in trouble. As he laid there his concerned team mates wandered off and left him, apart from a couple who stood over him like they were looking at a road kill. Despite my entreaties to leave the pitch he wanted to carry on, so I laid my hands on his knee and like Lazarus he was resurrected to full health. The half came and we regrouped.
Jay came on for Kurt to give us a bit more guile. The second half was a more torrid affair as Parks came out the blocks much quicker and began to dominate play. This was mainly due to our inability to keep good possession in midfield and up front. We were not sharp enough with passing and without possession a few were not putting in the required effort to win the ball back. Any team can only function as a unit and each player needs to understand that one area of weakness weakens the whole team. We had occasional break outs but they defended well. At the back our clearing was adequate but gave little respite. Ironically enough they scored from a through ball that their striker finished well even though he was half a yard off side. I don’t say that out of sour grapes but as a Benitez fact. Nevertheless it counted. The last 20 mins were frenetic and we created some great chances with Jay getting the ball under control and feeding the others, but Lazarus in their goal repaid my kindness by making three or four great saves from Adam, Nick, and Banny. To be honest we probably should have won it but alas that is football.
So an away point was all we got but it was a well battled point. And as I said afterwards, that was a game that we would have lost last year, so our resilience is encouraging but we know we must be better with the ball.
Everyone performed well, with Gary and Charlie proving solid. Adam once again proving to be a great left back even though he is a midfielder. The skipper was great in the first half but seemed to have the energy level of a man twice his age in the second half although Tom, Nick and him covered a hell of ground and all put in a shift. Kurt, Banny and Benson were very good in flashes but unfortunately couldn’t keep up the intensity.
Overall a workmanlike performance with flashes of what we can do. So this week we go again but we must be more incisive. But I will never knock the commitment and application. Good effort boys but three points this week, get yourselves up for it