Old Finchleians 7s 1 – Alexandra Park 10s 1

SAL Minor Div 4 North | October 7, 2017

Scorer: Daly

After a mixed (for want of a better word) pre-season for the 10s, and a September which brought only cup games (losses) and friendlies (abandoned after 30 minutes in farcical circumstances), the first weekend of October gave the team their chance to mix it up in their first league game of the season. Despite the underwhelming pre-season, spirits were high amongst the squad going into the game against Old Finchleians 7s.

El Capitano Robert Holder won the toss and made the wise choice to kick against the wind and slope in the first half – a decision that is familiar to most amateur captains – and even with the environmental challenges, AP were the dominant force in the first half. A strong midfield effort in shielding the back-four meant that Finchleians chances were few and far between during the first 45.

Midway through the half, the hustling and harrying from Nelson Daly (playing just behind the striker and captain, Holder) paid off, as he pounced on a parried Holder shot to finish smartly from 15 yards. AP had taken the lead and were in the ascendancy, but Finchleians were threatening on the counter.

Finchleians made a substitution midway through the first half; as their proper ‘keeper had turned up late, he quickly donned his kit and made his way into goal. Why a simple ‘keeper change is noted here will all become clear shortly: a clearer example of the Chekhov’s Gun principle you will see nowhere else.

The second half began much the same as the first, with AP looking likely to add to their one-goal advantage. However, Finchleians were again dangerous on the break, and on around 60 minutes they made their breakthrough, a low cross into the box that evaded everyone was deflected onto Gayton’s foot and into the goal. It was a blow to be back level given the dominance AP were exerting, but there was still the belief there was another goal in the game. An AP one, for that first sweet win of the season.

And there so nearly was; Holder scored from an offside position that was then disallowed, and several crosses from Phillip Mallalue were just missed by the encroaching attackers of AP. Finally, we came to the final five minutes of the game, and where our substitute ‘keeper friend made himself the villain of the story (from an orange perspective, of course). Two AP corners in quick succession put pressure on the Finchleians’ defence. The second caused an almighty scramble in the six-yard box as boots, knees, hands, heads dived into a ruck reminiscent of a Looney Tunes cartoon fight; when the dust had cleared the ball had somehow popped up on the other side of the box, where an AP player (hard to say who; the details during this confusing episode were a bit hard to pin down) shot on goal – it was destined for the net.

But alas, AP were to be denied the last-minute goal by a Herculean save from the Finchleians ‘keeper. Flying to his left he scooped the shot back from the line and it was cleared. The whistle went and a frustrated AP team left the pitch. Despite so many positives from the performance, the draw really did feel like a loss.

Nonetheless, it was still a first point on the board in the first game of the season. While the team are rueing the fact it could have been three points, it still represented a solid start and performance for the 10s. Continuing in this vein with a bit more ruthlessness in the finishing, and that first win will not be far away.

Sam Gayton

10th Team / Match Reports