Crouch End Vampires 0 – Alexandra Park 4

SAL Senior Div 2 | October 14, 2017

Scorers: Bassetti, P.Banks (2), Arowosafe

After having lost three weeks ago away at Crouch end in the cup and winning two weeks ago at home to Crouch End in a different cup, AP returned to Crouch End for their away league fixture with only one thing on their mind; how have they still not cut the grass? Just like actual vampires, Crouch End Vampires kept coming back for more.

The 1s managed to field practically a full strength side if it weren’t for Brough completely buggering up the perfect attendance. Having said that, replacement centre half, Chrissy B, is pitching a very good claim for a regular place.

Right from the get-go AP practiced their metaphorical asphyxiation as they began to suffocate the opposition in their own half. It was helpful having played Crouch End twice in the last three weeks as we knew they like to play from their deep lying midfielders. The word ‘press’ doesn’t really do it justice. Despite some underwhelming results this season, all of a sudden things have started to click for AP and I don’t mean Hill’s knees!

Ten minutes in and we grabbed our first goal. I can’t remember how the ball was lofted over the top to our Italian Stallion, Ed Bassetti, but it seems likely that it could have been me with a perfectly executed rabona or Jed with a lofted pass. Either way Ed caught the ball on the volley with his apparently weaker left foot which powered home past the outrushing keeper and into the bottom right hand side of the goal. What a strike.

Our front three were more than a handful as Ed and Banksy continued to run at defenders down the left with Reader stretching the back line like he was teaching them yoga. Okay, maybe that simile was the bigger stretch. Sure enough, Tim looked up and saw a gaping hole in the back line and played Reader through on goal but couldn’t beat the once again outrushing keeper.

Our next big chance was from a corner. Eds ball whipped all the way through the middle of the box and onto Chris’ foot at the back post for a simple enough tap in; but he just didn’t get enough on it and the ball went just wide of the back post in a devastating fashion.

Banksy made in 2-0 with his first goal of the season as Tim one-two’d with Reader to get to the byline. With Lanigan screaming behind him, Tim exchanged the ball quickly with the defender as…he turned and laid off for Alex who whipped in a sublime cross into that famous corridor of uncertainty. I’m surprised Reader didn’t put it in the goal himself, but it was such a ball that Banksy was there to help it into the goal with some part of his leg. He’s owes that one to the delivery…

Banksy had a chance to get his second before the end of the half as Jed was played through down the right hand side. His clever pull back beat the defenders but Paul couldn’t strike cleanly and the fumbled shot fell wide of the post.

A sour note in the first half was Captain Tim picking up an injury to his neck. After missing pre-season, Tim could have done with the fitness so this injury was a real pain in the neck. But that serves him right for putting his neck on the line in the first half. As it quickly stiffened, Tim didn’t know where (or how) to turn. This gave an opportunity to bring on Gravesy who was close to starting the game as it was neck and neck between him and Tim in the selection process. Tim deliberated continuing the neck jokes for a lot longer, but chose to wind his neck in.

The referee was probably the most pleased man on the pitch at the end of the first half as he managed to implement a sin bin due to some standard whinging from a losing side. AP, on their high horses, did their talking on the pitch.

Duncan’s orange cavalry, romped into the second half as they left the first. AP had the wind beneath the horse’s wings on a field which probably was more suited to horses than a footy game. They weren’t hoofing it though as they constructed some lovely possession based football from the back.

AP went three to the good when Banksy picked out a long splitting through ball to Emmanuel on a counter attack. With the ball bouncing and only the keeper to beat, Emmanuel attempted the lob which was the obvious choice. The lob went a bit bandy but the ball went in and the game was beyond doubt. This was followed by another Vampire sin bin in conjunction with another hidden smirk from the ref.

AP were now the far dominant side, particularly down the right hand side with Jon and Alex creating all sorts of havoc. Jon having one of the best chances finding himself delightfully through one on one, but couldn’t beat the keeper.

AP’s were looking better and better and this was shown by their fourth. Banksy found himself on the left hand side and played the ball into the channel for Emmanuel. Emmanuel pinned against the touchline with nowhere to go, pulled out a delicious back heel which split his two markers and was timed perfect for Banksy who had sprinted to support. Banksy now running at the two centre halves, cut inside on the edge of the box, could have opted to slot through Bailey for his second chance at a one on one, but instead chose to bend round the far defender into the far corner for his second of the game.

Crouch End did have some spells of dominant possession in the second half and lumped a lot of direct balls towards our goal but our defenders and goalkeeper dealt with it like childs play.

All in all it was an all-round brilliant team performance with sheer class all over the park. The defensive side was well drilled from all 11 players and offensively we caused chaos from our strikers, great pressing from our midfielders and support from the full backs throughout. Every single player deserves a special mention for their performance and I’m sure everyone went to bed happy with themselves, including the referee. There can only be one man of the match though and that would be Mr P. Banks who led the line tremendously and like the opposite of painkillers he gave the defenders constant headaches.

It’s interesting that I didn’t whinge about the grass that much now that we won.

Team: Wood, Hillier, Bollington, Redford, Lanigan, Fowler, T.Banks, Wood, Bassetti, P.Banks, Reader, Graves, Arowosafe

By Timothy Banks

1st Team / Match Reports