Alexandra Park 0 – Merton 0

SAL Senior Div 2 | September 9, 2017

Saturday morning was delightful with intermittent grim spells predicted for the afternoon; not a metaphor, just a weather report.

The opposition come into the game confident after they managed the double over us last season. AP come into the game confident after a successful pre‐season and a delightful brand new kit. Unfortunately we didn’t have the balls to go with it. The new balls were stuck at the DPD depot which is a shame because our training balls are lighter which means, just like DPD, you can’t get a decent delivery.

For me, it was a true delight to see captain/ comedian Timothy back in the squad after nearly a month out, although with no training sessions under his belt he was sure to suffer from iron oxidisation (rustiness). With Hawky, Belletti, Sunny and Reader out this week, the squad, would be more like an Ostrich; pretty strong in the middle but perhaps not the best wings for the job at hand. The 1s managed to bring in centre mid, Phil Lee, all the way from the 6s this week; a selection that raised a few eyebrows around the club. Tim hopes the 1s team will keep raising eyebrows throughout the season, so much that it will be painful for people to keep their eyebrows that high. With the new sin bin in effect for the first time, Tim made sure all players were instructed not to call the ref a dodgy prat, or worse.

What’s the opposite of end to end? Because that’s what the first 10 minutes was like. “Start to start?” No! I mean everything was congested in the middle. Merton, all in yellow looking like they’ve been gunged in custard, were perhaps enjoying the more possession but kept gettng stuck in the final third, like they were playing in actual custard. It was the AP midfield that was pouring the custard as they were impenetrable like rocks in the middle, similar to an avocado…

We finally had our biggest breakthrough when a ball was played into Banksy’s feet who turned and played Eman through first time. This was similar to the breakthrough the avocado had when it got a bit trendier in 2012. Eman, clear through with just the keeper to beat, couldn’t believe his ears when the ref blew his whistle. The defender had stepped up far too late and Eman must have been 4/5 yards on side, but it certainly pulled the wool over the ref’s eyes. Dodgy prat. We will never know if Eman’s audacious lob would have still missed the target if he hadn’t heard the whistle.

Towards the end of the first half, Tim saw fit to bring on himself and Phil for fresh legs. Tim slotted into the midfield like one of those toddler games where they slot wooden shapes through the correct holes. Phil, however, was not so wooden. He managed to demonstrate his ability to play in the big leagues when he received the ball in his own half with his back to goal, holding off the opposition striker with ease. What seemed like 5 minutes later, Phil was still holding off the striker before he finally released the ball, much to the joy of everyone playing and watching.

Tim had been ballsy by bragging of his intimate knowledge of his own Bankopress tactics which he claims to have invented but is actually hardly different to a standard 4-3-3. Now he had a chance to put his mouth where his balls are by substituting himself into an unfamiliar wing position. Within minutes Tim found himself through on goal from a pass from Banksy in a typical BoP move. Without the necessary pace, Tim awaited the arrival of his accompanying forwards but could not find either. Big chance wasted. Tim didn’t have to wait long for his moment to make up for his missed opportunity when a Banksy cross found him at the back post. Tim could try and head it back across for Eman lurking, head it straight at goal or take it down and shoot. Unfortunately, he got it all wrong and headed it cluelessy wide. Oh dear. If that miss wasn’t a ‘sin’ then I don’t know what is. Later that night, for fair retribution of his sin in line with the new rules, Tim was asked to sit in the bin for 10 minutes. He was rubbish. However, he refused.

The second half began the same as the first; with a centre kick. Also there were barely any chances to speak of in the opening 10 minutes. As the game grew on, AP looked the likely side to snatch the winner. Eman created his own chance by skilfully poking his way through but his strike couldn’t beat the on song keeper. Gravesy hustled his own opportunity as he was moved into the centre forward position. His desire to battle the defenders paid off when he got strong volley away from the edge of the box which was deflected towards the keeper who pulled off another great save…Possibly the best chance of the game fell when Kwame powered into the box, jinked past two or three defenders and chipped back delightfully for Banksy who couldn’t direct his header on target. But it wasn’t meant to be and the game ended egg-all.

To summarise, the opposition looked strong, good in possession and extremely yellow but struggled to turn their dominance into any clear cut chances. Our terriers in midfield battled the ball back by cornering Merton into cul-de-sacs like hooded teenagers, whilst balls over the top were dealt with by the fantastic four at the back. They weren’t without any chances as you can never prevent this 100% in a game but on reflection I can’t remember one proper save that our keeper, Megan, had to make. Ourselves, upfront we had a dozen or so half chances with an extra couple of opportuniNes which probably should have been buried. At times, our makeshift wingers struggled to provide the cuttng edge and killer instinct that will be required to break the deadlock. Man of the match would have to be one of the Fantastic Four defenders for which I’d pick Hillsy who was Mr Fantastic himself. For reference, I’d say Lanigan was The Human Torch, Brough was The Thing and Redford was the Invisible Woman.

The day didn’t stop there though as the clean sheet celebrations carried on into the late evening. Umpteen pitchers of San Miguel later, it was time for the annual tug of war which has never been done before and might not ever be done again. With four men per side, Redford showed his defensive instincts by tying his end of the rope to a nearby concrete block. Gravesy, full of beans at the front, refused to believe the game was over and carried on pulling even when the rest of his team had given up; he was yanked onto the gravel helplessly. Brilliant. Tim & Redford bickered on the way home about who would be better in a 1 v 1 tug of war. When they got home they found one of Redford’s suit ties and began their grudge match. Nobody won though, it was a tie.

1st Team / Match Reports