Old Finchleians 7s 2 – Alexandra Park 9s 3

SAL Junior Novets Cup | September 23, 2017

Scorers: Piner, Hooten, C.Pernice

With the 5-4-1 formation we played in the previous round of the Junior Novets cup having led to approximately minus 2 shots on target, AP 9s adopted a classic 4-2-3-1 formation for this final group game, with the hope of kickstarting their so far somewhat turgid season. We started brightly, but some hesitant defending then saw us on the back foot. We conceded a corner and, sadly, a goal.

We should have been level a few minutes later. Hooten rampaged forward and drew a save which the keeper palmed across the box. The skipper burst into the area and, with an open goal gaping before him, somehow managed to blast it over the bar. Fortunately, Hooten obviously chose not to read too much into this woeful display of finishing and a few minutes later kindly threaded a delightful through ball to put the skipper in again; and this time he did finish it.

At this point it became clear that OF’s defence was about as solid as Wayne Rooney’s marriage. Hoots was proving a revelation in his new position as a number 9, providing running, pace and tidy link up play. The dual ‘Zainaway’ axis at the base of midfield started to get more and more on the ball and AP 9s were counter attacking with speed and precise passes. It was from one such move that Hoots got a deserved goal to put us ahead, hittng another shot that was too hot to handle and which this time bounced over the line.

Shortly after this came the turning point in the game. A dubious free kick against AP saw a curled shot heading over a packed box for the far top corner of the goal. However, out of nowhere, Sam ‘the salmon’ Edmonson appeared on the line to head it away. The ball fell to Hooten and a lovely passing move ensued. It culminated in Carlo Pernice, who was thriving in the number 10 role, receiving the ball on the edge of the box. He turned his man and beat the keeper with ease.

There was still time for some more sloppy play before half time, however, and lack of tightness to our men and closing in midfield enabled Old Finchleians to get one back.

The second half was much less exciting, aside from a helicopter doing donuts overhead and some more ‘interesting’ refereeing. It was fair to say AP’s defence came into its own though, and there was a willingness to battle and block every ball to protect our lead. In truth, we had plenty of chances to put the game to bed on the counter, but some questionable off sides, unlucky bounces and rusty finishing prevented that from happening.

I still doubt we’ll progress in this cup but we’ve at least now got a small chance. More importantly we have that first win of the season and we proved that if we are willing to work hard and defend like beasts then we have players with the ability to win us games. The league starts Saturday, let’s start with 3 points please.

MOTM: Hooten

9th Team / Match Reports