Old Lyonians 5s 2 – Alexandra Park 9s 3

SAL Minor Div 4 North | January 23, 2016

Scorers: R.Holder, Ait-Idior, Croft

Having not played since mid-December it was a rusty and slightly unfit 9’s squad that made the long trek up to Harrow (well it’s long for us!) and after a slight miscommunication in which we all went to the wrong ground, we managed to get 12 players together 15 minutes before kick-off. Again the 9’s were hit with the keeper curse, and for the 5th time this season had to put some fat guy in goal instead! Other than this slight weakness, and the 4’s nicking our players (curse you Pat!), it was a strong 9’s squad that lined up for the first half. Our choice in keeper nearly proved costly, when within the first couple of minutes he spilled an easy shot into the path of an opposition striker, who only had to tap it into an open net. Luckily the aforementioned striker, for reasons best known to himself, spooned it high and wide, such a miss is rarely seen, even in our league! Having survived a close shave, the 9’s had an opportunity to take the game by the scruff of the neck, and really dominate. Unfortunately, we did not take said opportunity and spent much of the next ten minutes under pressure, with Old Lyonians have several shots on target. One of these shots took a nasty deflection, wrong-footing the goal keeper and ending up in the back of the net, we were 1-0 down.

As so often is the case, we it took going behind for us to snap into action, and we started putting some passes together. One particularly good move saw a great one-two between Crofty and Freddy, led to a shot being stopped on the line, but luckily the ever dangerous Robert Holder was on hand to bundle the ball over the line to level the scores. Thus followed our best period of the first half, when we started to put the opposition under pressure. A few more chances were created, the best of which was a shot by Freddy (a 20-yard pile-driver no less), was tipped onto the bar by their goalkeeper, and the following header was again saved by the keeper. But just as I thought we were better team, Old Lyonian’s decided to step up their game, and put us again under pressure. A few saves from our impromptu goal keeper, and some quite frankly superb defending from ever playing in the back four, we somehow managed to keep them out, and it took some help from the referee for them to break us down again. Old Lyonians won a free keep about 20 yards out, and the ref quite clearly said “keeper, on my whistle”. Our keeper then proceeded to set us his wall when the free kick was taken and scored before he was finished. When we complained that he never blew the whistle, it didn’t seem to bother him as he seemed to think he did. Shame really, because the ref had a good game other than his inability to blow a whistle loud enough for anyone to hear! So we were behind once again, and not having the best of the game. We had a few chances, but they had more, and again our back four managed to keep us in the game with some sterling performances from each of them. The best of our chances came from corners, one of which Joe hit sky high from about 25 yards.

The half time whistle came as a relief to AP, and a change in positions and tactics were needed. Crofty and Freddy were put upfront together, Nathan was put to the wing with Jon and Matt securing the centre of midfield. Some stern words were said and we were resolved, to get properly stuck in during the second half. It was a completely different team that stepped onto the pitch for the second half, every single player did what they asked and stepped up their game. From the very kick off we started putting together some slick passing moves, movement off the ball was better and passes were actually going to feet, this was more like the AP9’s that I know! Heddy was giving their right back hell down the left wing, Freddy was constantly putting their defenders under pressure, especially from passes Crofty was putting through to him, and Matt was winning tackles that he quite frankly had no right to be winning! For the first time all game our defence could have a bit of a rest, and even started to become a little bored! It seemed only a matter of time until we were level, and it was Heddy who did the honours! Receiving the ball on the left wing, he cut back inside and from quite some distance hit a phenomenal shot looping over the keeper at going in the top right corner of the oppositions goal. I know I say this every other week but it is surely a goal of the season contender!

Having drawn level, we were not content, and kept pushing for the winner. To aid in this venture, Robert was brought back on, and immediately started creating chances, and nearly scoring with a lob of his own! Old Lyonians were struggling with the increased defending they were now having to do, and soon an attacking move saw the ball fall free in the box. The ever dependable Crofty pounced on the loose ball and before the opposition knew what was happening he had it in the back of the net! We were ahead for the first time in the game! This meant that they were behind for the first time in the game, which is not something they took a liking to! Old Lyonians started throwing everything they had at us, and we were suddenly under immense pressure. The defence were just about holding firm, and the keeper needed to intercept a few through balls and even save some one-on-ones (save is maybe a strong word, the shots sort of hit him as he stood there stationary). At this point it was necessary to bring on Galloway to stop these attacks forming in the midfield. This helped stem the tide of attacks with Jon putting in tackle after tackle in the midfield being a strong physical presence. Even so it was a very nervous last ten minutes. The 9’s had chances to put the game behind doubt, with a couple of Freddy’s shots being saved or put just wide, but the best opportunity came to Heddy. Their keeper, for reasons best known to himself, gave the ball straight to Heddy while being miles off his line, all that was needed was a chip into an empty net, but the shot flew about a yard wide of the right hand post. If he hadn’t have scored such a spectacular goal earlier in the match I might not have forgiven him! Anyway we did manage to see it out to full time with our one goal lead. Not an easy win, but a massive one, this puts us 5 points off top with two games in hand. It will be an important game when we host top of the league next week!

MOM: A hard decision this week, Freddy, Crofty and Heddy were constant threats in attack, and Matt and Jon were solid in midfield when needed. However, the stars of the show have to be the defence (minus the keeper). It was Alex, Roman, Joe and Dalziel that kept us in the game during the first half, and made the comeback possible. If I had to pick one of them, and it’s hard to do so as they all played so well, I’d have to go with Dalziel, as he managed to keep their best player under wraps for the entire game, many by bullying him. Also because when he made a vital goal saving tackle in the final few minutes he starts yelling “NOT IN MY HOUSE!”. Classic Dalziel!

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