Scorers: Arowosafe, White, E.Brough, P.Banks
There is must win games and must not lose games. Our last home game of the season was somewhere in between, which could have caught us in an awkward position. As it was I endured something far worse.
We lined up with our very own Neville Southall in goal and a back line of Lanigan, Brough, Taylor and a debut for Matt Browse. Midfield of Wood, Graves and White. The front three were Reader, Arowosafe and leading the line Paul Banks. Phillips, Korek and Bailey made up the bench.
For the second week running we came out the blocks like a train and hit Actonian’s hard and within 10 mins we had missed two glorious chances with Adam and Paul making the miss look considerably harder than scoring. I looked to the heavens and said a small prayer. Mike, Jordan and Jed were totally bossing midfield and moving the ball quick and effectively from side to side. The breakthrough came from a Jed through ball that Paul was never going to catch it was that bad, fortunately Emmanuel put on the afterburners and nicked in front of the defender and highly suspect keeper to lob the ball in. It was no more than we deserved. Actonians as expected were being physical with a fine selection of kicks from behind, trips, pushes and showed an extensive grasp of the English language when decisions went against them. It wasn’t long before a late tackle took Emmanuel out. Unfortunately, he dislocated his shoulder on impact with the ground. It was a shame as he had the beating of their full back every time. Whilst nursing him on the touch line we scored our second with an imperious header from Elliott. We kept the pressure up and the third followed with Jordan powering in a header after their keeper failed on take off to reach a crossed ball. Jordan was finally showing the player he can be with a powerful performance. Korek had come on for Emmanuel by now. Defensively we looked solid with Martin dictating to the back four what was required. Matt and Alex at full backs were pushing on where possible and Sam and Elliott actually looked like they had played together before. So 3-0 at half time led to the usual Egan chest beating about keeping our foot on their throats and that Actonians always bottle it. Even Jordan was so fired up he got a drum banging speech in. Wow! What could possibly go wrong?
The details are now sketchy as I went to call an Ambulance for Emmanuel. Before I got to the pavilion it was 3-1! In the next 15 mins I received two messages from Max. 3-2 then 3-3. This was so AP1s. After letting a 2-0 lead slip the previous week I feared the worst. I returned to a scene resembling the Alamo or Rorkes Drift. Actonians raised their game and their voices as they berated the ref over most decisions. Gradually we raised our game and began to get more of the ball and finally scored when Egan’s kick was deftly flicked on by Mike. Paul ran through and controlled the ball, held off the defender and slipped the ball in. 4-3 and all we had to do is see the game out. We seemed to be managing the final minutes until Actonians won a corner. As the ball looped over Elliott decided that their guy was the love of his life and duly tried to hug him to death! Strangely enough the ref gave the penalty. I slumped to the ground as if Mike Tyson had laid a beauty on me and began to feel strangely sympathetic towards Arsene Wenger. Fortunately, we didn’t have Cech in goal, we had Egan. He dropped to his right and saved the penalty, which to be fair was a pretty embarrassing effort. From there we cleared the ball and the ref blew the whistle. 4-3 and 3 points.
A thoroughly engrossing game that sent me through every emotion. As usual the collective effort was immense and the first half had some of our best football this season. But we are prone to missing sitters and conceding sloppy goals which is not really going to cut it if we are going to go for promotion next season. At present we are third top scorers in the division and with the chances missed we could easily be pushing top spot. Likewise, we have conceded the third most goals. This says it all.
It’s hard to pick out individuals as the team performance was superb and that is what has showed this year is that if you work for each other anything is possible and I love the fact we never ever give up. But Martin has been a revelation in goal and has made crucial saves at critical points in games which have spurred us on and Saturday was a prime example. Matt had an excellent debut and think the boy has a great future at the club if he carries on in the same manner. And probably Jordan for finally manning up and showing he can be a beast of a player. Roar! Everyone else was just basically brilliant. Even though you guys are killing me. One game to go, 3 points and mid table mediocrity beckon. I bloody love it.