After the regrettable game against Merton last week where we couldn’t muster a point, those who
said we have a point to prove, have got a point. We got our geometry all wrong; our back line was
too flat, we weren’t playing in triangles, the passes were too square, there were hardly any crosses
and for all our possession we were just going round and round in circles. In summary, we really
didn’t really understand our shape.
AP 1s set out to go back to their basics; keeping it tight, compact and making it difficult for the
opponents. A supercomputer calculated an algorithm of alterations to the lineup. Tim Banks returns
to left back in the absence of Browesy , Jed is ushered back into centre half, JJ is back in at striker
and we welcome the returns of our super talented Italian magician, Ed Bassetti, and Gravesy.
After being beaten by Old Finchleians away at the end of last year, we had the rare opportunity to
prepare for the match and brace ourselves for the expected 3-5-2 lineup. The instruction was to
leave their wing backs in acres of space if needed and make sure the middle of the pitch is looked
after. A minute’s silence was welcomed for the late Les Anderson, a true club legend and one of the
1s biggest supporters in recent years.
I would say the away side had the most joy in the early minutes of the game as we struggled to win
the ball back from their defence too often. Had they been a bit more useful though, they could have
caused us problems. All too frequently we saw long balls shanked out of play, flicked on to no-one,
overran to Pat in goal, or well cleared by our new centre half partnership that people are calling
“Jelliot” or “Wough”. The best the oppo could draw up was a couple of corners which were cleared
well. AP managed to get on the ball more and create chances of their own.
The best real chance of the half came as Brough stepped in front of the striker to steal the ball and
proceeded to stride in the midfield. He found a teasing ball towards Ed on the left hand side which
was pint-droppingly close to the defenders outstretched leg. Ed cuts back on to his favourite right
peg and whips a delicious ball in towards the back of the 6 yard box. The ball is perfect for the timing
of Gravesy’s arrival who heads it but clangs high off the inside of the post. The ball drops for JJ but
he lunges for it and can only steer it over the goal frame. Maybe he’s been watching too much of the
rugby. How is that not 1-0.
The half ends zip all.
Within moments of the restart, AP take the lead. A throw in situation down the right hand side isn’t
dealt with by the Finchleians defence and Ed reads the opportunity well as he gets the ball inside the
box, with his defender the wrong side of him. He cushions well and scores high into the goal in a
swift action. 1-0 and that’s the Italian’s first goal since his debut nearly two years ago. I’m sure there
are lads reading this that think they should have been mentioned in the build up to this goal. I don’t
know who took the throw, I don’t know who flicked it on, I don’t know if it was even flicked on, and
I’m not even certain it was from a throw in situation. Ed scored, alright?
AP are far the better side this half as they begin playing the ball more comfortably. With only one
goal in the game, surely they need another although Finchleians aren’t creating too much either. AP
try and capitalize on the goal keeper’s mistakes, of which there were plenty, but somehow he
manages to recover every time. JJ has tackled him at least three times in the box and he also kicks
one straight into Ade from a yard away but the ball rebounds directly into his grasp.
Finchleians throw the kitchen sink in as they change to a 3-3-4 formation but the janitors ‘Jelliot’
keep mopping up. Tom Carter drops in to centre back between Tim and Brough for the final 10mins
to balance the seesaw and give some protection to the left hand side when Tim continues to go
walkabouts. They got a couple of scuffed shots away but Pat in goal insisted there was nothing tough
to deal with. Final score 1-0.
A great three points for Duncan’s Orange smart arses; when we’re in this mood we have an answer
for everything. Having been really compact all game and tougher to break than a Navy Seal, the
defence would have fancied themselves at playing for another 90 without conceding. When you
don’t concede you have every chance of winning a game of football and the boys proved that the
Merton game was a total off day.
A special mention goes to Alex Lanigan for his right back performance. We’ve come to expect his
terrific ability on the ball with his reassuring touch providing a perfect outlet whenever required but
this season he looks fitter than ever as he continues to support the wingers with overlapping runs
even well late into the game. Most importantly for me is his ability to read the game. It’s so hard to
teach but he has the awareness to continually step in and intercept the ball to diffuse chances
before they even dawn. Lesser men run the risk of mistiming the interception or even executing
poorly, both of which would result in conceding goal scoring chances. It is easy to edge on the side of
caution and chose to avoid the interception but the sign of a great player is one who knows when to
go and knows when to stay. Profit is the reward of risk taking. All of that is without mentioning the
obvious benefit this has to our attacking game as the turnover of possession begins the attack.
However, man of the match was a unanimous vote for Jed in centre half who was unbeatable the
way he played. He’s not a small bloke but there are plenty in the division taller than him, yet he wins
headers like he’s 7ft, chases into the channel like he’s an Olympic sprinter and clears absolutely
everything up like he’s teenager who’s organised a house party when his parents have been out of