2nd XI - WON 1-0 (Away) v Southbank Cuaco, League.
Goalscorer - George Michaels
A trip to South London always creates a more determined feel amongst the group to come home with all 3 points and make a statement of intent. With a full squad at our disposal we started the game in our traditional 4-4-2 formation with Mario between the sticks; Defence consisting of Rob, Sean, Kyri, Christos; Midfield anchors of Lenos and Adam with Kieron and Niam on the wings, spearheading the attack both our 'big men' Pani and George 'Beef'.
Old Stationers won the toss and decided to swap ends and play uphill first half, a tactic we believe works very well in that the first 45 we grind down our opponents in the difficult conditions to set us up for a more attack minded free flowing 2nd half.
From the off, we immediately put the South Bank team under pressure, playing good football, moving the ball about and creating space for each other. We carved out numerous chances with good link up play and used our big talismen to pull the southbank defence all over the park. Pani had a glorious chance to grab our first goal heading just wide from a long throw-in from Christos, then a few moments later Kieron had a curling free-kick crash against the crossbar and bounce out to safety. The best chance of the half fell to George, when a through ball found him in space on the right hand side of the box one-on-one and hit the crossbar again!
We regrouped and maintained our focus, sure that once we grabbed one goal we could go on to get a few more, but at this level it only takes a lapse in concentration to concede with the game at 0-0.
Instantly, George had another two glorious chances to score and failed to hit the target after doing all the hard work to create the space and beat the defender. We managed to control our impatience at not scoring and maintain our belief that we always score, we haven't gone a game in 2 seasons without scoring and in the 70th minute we grabbed that all important first goal. Another 'Delap' throw-in, this time from Adam landed inside the six yard box with George rising with two defenders to scramble to ball home! 1-0! Instant relief and a drive to get the 2nd and kill the game. South-bank didn't give up and threw men forward but the work rate from each player and the strength of our defence stood firm and snuffed out any chance they had of snatching a equaliser.
Once again a massive performance from everyone all over the pitch. Our forwards never stopped making life hell for their defence, our tricky wingers with quick feet stretched and gave us good width while both our centre midfielders, big and powerful with great footballing technique to control the tempo and the defence with a clean sheet says it all to the GK delight. Another 3points, 3rd league win on the bounce. Bring on next week.
4th XI - WON 4-0 (Home) v East Barnet Old Grammarians 6th XI
A first win for the 4th XI after a fragmented start to the campaign due to an ever-changing line up was most welcome, particularly on a day when many ex-Stationers were in attendance on the touchline for the annual re-union. Saturday also saw the return to the club of some fantastic talent in the form of Justin Zacharia, Jamie Brindle, Tony Hunn, Wayne Scott and George Attrill, and their experience blended smoothly with the 4th XI regulars Jake Gilligan, Chris Morphites, the two Harrys, Dean, Tommy and young Rob D. We also had the gifted and speedy Josh up front for a big chunk of the game and his pace and hold up play allowed a 4-5-1 formation to move up and down the pitch as a unit.
Playing a neat passing game, we held onto the ball for long periods of time but in truth we struggled to carve out clear chances in the first 45 minutes. Nevertheless at half time we all felt it was just a matter of time before we got the first goal and expected the game to become more open from that point. And that is how it played out, with Tony Hunn coming on as a sub and making an immediate impact after 50 minutes, controlling a pass in the left channel and turning neatly past his marker before crossing hard and low from the byline for the incoming Rob D to crash home from 5 yards.
Not long after Tony was in the middle of things again, this time finishing neatly after some nice passing by the midfield. 2-0 up and you could feel the confidence flowing.
EBOG fought valiantly and made some forays up the pitch, but I have to give huge credit to the workrate of the team as the oppo struggled to get any shots at goal, most often finding themselves blocked by a diving challenge or shuffled out wide where danger evaporated.
Our play was considered and made possible by the impressive movement of the team, and some of the passing was top quality. George Attrill linked up nicely with Rob on the right flank, and Tommy Capaldi did likewise on the left with Harry and the ever mobile Justin Zacharia, whose neat touches and quicksilver feet drew a couple of gasps from those watching on the sidelines. Class is permanent as they say... Chris Morphites and Jamie Brindle were always composed at centre back and won pretty much every challenge they made, and it was good to see their presence of mind to then find a team mate to set up another move when they had the ball at their feet. Young Harry H was strong in the centre circle, linking and jinking with Justin and the impressive Dean, and our young wingers Rob and Harry kept the EBOG full backs busy with their pace and guile.
We had huge possession in the second half and in the end it paid off, with further goals coming from Justin, who prodded past the goalie after a mazy run inside their full back, and finally a quality finish from Josh, who latched onto a Dean through ball and clipped the ball neatly over the diving keeper to bag our fourth and final goal. In between times George Attrill contrived to miss a penalty, and we had a few other chances via Justin, Rob, Tony et al.
It was a great team performance, and the blend of youth and experience offered an impressive balance which few teams in our division will match. It can only bode well for the 4th XI and the club to have some returning sons and was most appropriate on the offical Re-Union Day.
5th XI - WON 8-1 (Away) v Alexandra Park 10s (League Cup)
Scorers: Blackmore (3), Phillips (3), Kyriakides, Zaf Akin
As the scoreline would suggest, we did outclass the oppo somewhat, who were maybe a bit out of their depth against us, but we shouldn't be anything less than proud of our collective efforts. We played well as a team, with some fine individual performances too. We decided to use our 4-5-1 formation again, this time with Ron Hanson being kind enough to deputise for Dan Avis, forming a solid back four of Murphy, Amato, Hanson, and Zaf in front of Karl Francis in goal.
Our starting midfield 5 of Nelio, Craig J, Ross W, Mike D, and Alex K provided a good balance and collective work ethic to our game, with Billy Phillips playing the lone striker. I must say, Billy had a fantastic first 20 minutes, with him Alex, Zaf and Ross Wright linking play up particularly effectively. Billy put us in front fairly early on with a good solo effort. As the half went on Alex combined well with the others and worked some great chances down the left side, but unfortunately his shooting boots weren't on, and we didn't convert. However, the pressure was relentless, and it seemed only a matter of time before we'd get a second goal.
Honestly I can't remember the exact sequence, but we got to half time 4-0 up, with Alex and Zaf both scoring (Zaf with a really excellent placed freekick), and (I think) Billy getting his second. Right at the end of the half we almost let the oppo back in, but Murphy made a fine goal line clearance, to put us into the break in a commanding position.
Second half we pushed on, with Ajay, Nick P, and Ross B coming on in place of Mike D, Nelio, and Alex K respectively. The team continued to push on, with a number of good chances being created for but not taken by Ross Blackmore, who nevertheless eventually did bag a hatrick, but could have had six (as could Alex, I think they had an unofficial 'anti-goal' competition going on). Billy also got his hatrick too, which was very well deserved. We made full use of the roll-on / off rule, with both Ross W and Craig J getting knackered and injured respectively, which allowed us to bring Mike D and Alex K back on. Ajay was a monster in the centre of the park, winning almost everything he set his mind to.
Really the only bad thing in the game was we surrendered the initiative for about 5 minutes and allowed the oppo to get a consolation goal. But, apart from that, an excellent performance all round on a bright sunny Saturday afternoon. Well done all. Men of the match: Ron Hanson (selfless performance at CB), and Billy Phillips (great hold up play, and really clinical finishing).