Saturday was dreary…actually I’m not sure it was. We made our way to local rivals, Crouch End Vampires, which, like an evil duck, was sure to be a feisty game. The football pitch looked more like a farmers field as the grass was as long as my…well, it was long. The AP lads were looking pasty after their 6-0 pasting the previous week. They couldn’t afford another pasting otherwise they’d be so covered in paste people would mistake them for Papier Mâché. Duncan’s Oranges welcomed back skipper Tim who’s missed all preseason with an abdominal injury. Also greeted into the team was newcomer Matt Browse who has been teetering on the edge of 1s football for months. Unavailable were Banksy and Gravesy, both cup Red (they had other stuff on).
The first 30 mins were tough to endure for the away side as they were run ragged by Vampires who switched the ball more times than a street magician. Camped in their own half like they were hiding from actual vampires, AP attempted their expeditions, through the head height long grass (okay maybe I’m being dramatic) up the pitch but came to no fruition. The orange defence looked strong and capable of dealing with everything thrown at them as they kept batting away clipped balls over the top. However, the deadlock was finally broken from a poor corner which couldn’t beat the first man – but oh wait, it somehow did beat the first man! A bit of pinball in the box and it bounced in off the big centre mids chest from 1 yard out. Third conceded goal from a corner in two games. AP responded and ended the second half the stronger side as they directed numerous balls towards the strikers which never fell into anything clear cut.
We began as we ended the first half by knocking on the door including a terrific chance from Emmanuel who feinted an uncomfortable number of times before running the ball into the keeper’s arms. What a mazy run! And I’m not just saying that because of the long grass. Surely he had to get a shot away at some point.
As legs became tired the game stretched and edged towards an even game. As AP took a few more risks to try and win the game, left back Matt Browse got caught on the ball and Vampires countered down the wing for a nice cut back and a fluky scuffed kick finish into the bottom corner to make it 2-0 and leave a lot of work for AP.
We kept pushing with chances getting clearer cut and more frequent. The best of which was a deep cross which found Dan 12 yards out, who stretched and toed it towards goal only to be denied by some impressive reflexes by the goal keeper. This chance might have happened at 1-0 but I can’t really remember. There was also a good free kick from Alex Lanigan which was tipped over the bar – but no corner was given. Probably justice though as it wasn’t a free kick in the first place. Apparently Tim missed some good chances too but he doesn’t want to mention them.
Vampires finally buried us in the last minute to make it a flattering 3-0, with another counter attack down the wing and a cut back, similar to their second goal. Either that or I’ve completely forgotten their third goal and I’ve just assumed it was the same.
All in all it was a tough game and Crouch End were a little more experienced at playing together and capable of crafting a game to suit a poor pitch. The biggest frustration for AP was that when we did get in good areas, we seemed to make a lot of poor decisions and a criminal number of scuffed shots. It could have easily tilted our way on a different day but we will always make it difficult for ourselves if we continue to concede sloppy goals from corners.
Man of the match would be Alex Lanigan who created the majority of our opportunities going forward and was happy to deal with cross field balls until the cows come home – and on a pitch like this, it was a real possibility that cows might show up.
Did I mention the grass was quite long?
By Timothy Banks