Bank of England 4 – Alexandra Park 3

SAL Senior Div 2 | February 11, 2017

Scorers: Cass(2), Reader

A real treat this week as we travelled to the salubrious surroundings of Banks ground. Carpet in them dressing rooms a greeting almost as welcoming as Nigel Grimes. And a pitch to play football on. The weirdest thing was Bank playing in Chelsea’s white kit, logo and all. A bit creepy really.

Anyway with points to play for this was a fine opportunity to go one better than the home game when we pulled off a remarkable comeback after a night on the lash. This game was just as remarkable.

Missing a few usual suspects, we still fielded a strong team. Martin continued his sterling work in goal. A back four of Alex, Sam, Elliott and a debut in the 1s for Tom Redford. The midfield three of Stephen, Tim and Jon with a starting front three of Emmanuel, Adam and Jordan. Isaac and Jay Cass started subs.

From the off Bank were at us with slick passing and super movement. This caused us some early discomfort as we adapted to a team playing three at the back. Although they bossed the play we hung in there and battled through the early stages but the stage was set for what would be a tough afternoon physically. Bank created half chances without Martin really being tested, and we actually managed to get our own game going with Jordan always looking dangerous on the right and the guys in the middle working hard to create openings. Adam was working the channels to some effect and we had opportunities if not clear cut chances in their area. The pressure finally told and we conceded the first goal. Then as so often this season injury hit us. Martin went down to collect another tame shot and jabbed his dislocated finger from a couple of weeks ago. This time the yells of agony made us realise all was not well. Unfortunately, there was no coming back from this and Tim took the gloves. Jordan moved to midfield and Jay came on up front. Within minutes Jay was taking their defence to task with some great touches and the equaliser followed as he took a through ball down and lobbed the keeper from 20 yards. A quality goal. This gave us some impetus and Jay and Adam were linking well. Then just before the half we scored a second. Jay latched on to another through ball and raced into the area. Jay and the defender both appeared to slip but the defender had a hand on Jay and the ref gave the penalty. Adam tucked this away as usual. Regardless of the score Bank had battered us for periods and we had expended a lot of energy chasing ball, especially the midfield guys. Emmanuel had to be replaced with Isaac after his boot fell apart. We realised we needed to tweak things to help shore up the midfield so we moved to a more pragmatic 4-5-1 for the second half. It said a lot for bank that neither Alex or Tom had really been able to influence the game much in an attacking sense.

Second half and it was normal service resumed. Then after 10mins Jordan dazzled their guy on the touchline with a slick drag back. He fired it into Jay on the edge of the area who had two defenders in attendance and his back to the goal. Even now I’m not quite sure what he did, but it was some kind of Cruyff turn that left the defenders for dead. The keeper advanced but Jay calmly slotted in. 3-1 and we could hardly believe it. Tim in goal had already shown himself pretty handy in goal with a couple of good stops but what followed has elevated him to the level of his name sake Gordon. Firstly, he made an amazing double stop from two rasping efforts. This was followed by a block and a header off the line. Both Elliott and Sam were doing their best but it was beginning to resemble the Alamo in our area. We failed to hold possession long enough to give ourselves a breather and they scored a second with probably 20 to go. On the touchline I was in pieces with nerves. Tim pulled off another couple of great saves and everyone was throwing themselves at everything. Jon had to come off with Emmanuel coming into midfield, you can tell it was desperate! Even with all this pressure we had openings as Jay was constantly looking to get beyond their defence. He had a couple of decent shots and Adam and Jordan were backing up at every opportunity. Then with 10 to go the pressure finally told and despite Tim’s best efforts Bank equalised. At this point a point would be a great result. With five mins to go we broke down field, Jay got to the by-line and fired in a low cross with two guys in there we had a chance, it scuffed up off one and wouldn’t come down for the second chance to be scored. Then for the second time this season we were hit from the breakaway by a super shot that had Tim beaten from the moment it left the guys boot. Beaten at the death again. This was a real kick in the teeth after so much effort was put in by all. And it does feel like we had been mugged, but in the cold light of day Bank were probably the best team we have played this year apart from Polytechnic in the cup. And the fact we never gave up and actually scored three goals in a game we probably only had 30-40% of possession is a credit to everyone. It would be harsh to pick people out for special praise but Tim was sensational in goal, not just the saves but his general handling and his kicking. Thanks Tim. Jay up front was a constant threat when we could get the ball to him and scored a couple of goals worthy of goal of the season. A great debut. Adam, Jordan, Steve along with Jon have amazing energy and regardless of frequently being passed through they chased, harried and broke forward at every occasion. Everyone was excellent in their application and spirit. Bank were superb at times and it could have been a game we lost 3 or 4-0 but we never lay down. Finchleians next week and the chance to play on another great pitch and play some good football.

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