2nd XI - WON (Home) v Southgate Olympic Res.
After last seasons three way title shoot out between Old Stationers, Old Garchonians and Southgate Olympic. A reunion with rivals Southgate Olympic had the team excited. Victory today would culminate in to Stationers’ 4th win since their opening day defeat to Ibis.
The game kicked off and instantly Old Stationers were applying pressure to the Southgate backline. After a succession of corners, Pani found the net with a powerful header from Sam’s cross. However before celebrating, the ref deemed a foul to have taken place a ruled out the early goal. Shortly after Kieron slid a teasing ball into Pani, he held the ball up in the box before being taken out by the defender, however once again the ref waived it on and the game remained scoreless.
The sheer pressure and quality from Stationers eventually prevailed, a George Beef shot struck the outstretched arm of the Southgate defender, leaving the ref with no choice but to award the penalty. Kieron Stepped up and calmly sent the keeper the wrong way and the ball in to the bottom left corner, 1-0.
The second goal came from another set piece; Lenos rose to meet the ball in the box and head the ball in. He managed to wriggle his way free from the defence to score unmarked, 2-0. Lenos and Adam were bossing the middle of the park, snuffing out most of the momentum Southgate tried to build.
Just before the break, everyone was treated to a really special goal. Left back Sean tackled the Southgate winger, before passing the ball to Sam who was progressing just over the halfway line. He unleashed a thunderbolt from his right boot from at least 40 yards out. The ball beat the keeper and flew in to the top right hand corner, a front-runner for goal of the season already, 3-0.
George Winter got Stationers their fourth, he beat a player on the left side of the box, tormenting the defender before drilling his shot past the keeper in to the top left corner of the goal, 4-0. The keeper was left with no chance of saving his shot.
Sam then jinked in the box before being brought down, Pani placed the resulting penalty in to the bottom left corner to make it 5-0. The sixth and Pani’s second followed after a twisting run from Niam, he squared the ball across the box for the target man to score at the back post, 6-0.
Kieron also scored his second; a penetrating run down the flank from Sean saw him cut in on the left side of the box and release the ball to kieron, he lifted the ball into the top corner. A composed finish from the majestic winger made the score 7-0. The final goal came just before the end of the match; Sam evaded the Southgate defence before rounding the keeper and walking the ball in to the net, 8-0. Final whistle.
A really strong performance from the team, the fact that the defence was hardly mentioned shows how good they are working as a unit, limiting Southgate’s attacking play. George Beef didn’t manage to score but came close after bringing a goal kick out of the sky and beating two defenders, but his shot went wide. Midfielders Lenos, Adam, Sam and Kieron worked hard all game and dominated the middle of the pitch. Rob once again covered more distance then Mo Farah. The big score line should boost the team going in to next weeks game and hopefully we can come away will all three points again.
5th XI - LOST vs Winchmore Hill. Scorers: Ross Blackmore and Craig Jones
An annoying game for many reasons this one. We missed three or four really excellent chances, so a game we feel we really ought to have won has instead turned out to be a defeat. The first 35 minutes we played calm composed football, using our 4-5-1 formation as well as we know we can, this time playing Ron Hanson in the forward position, with Ron regularly finding both Alex K and Ross B pushing up on the wings. We enjoyed a lot of possession, and at times seemed able to cut the opposition open at will, only for them to get the opener with a break against the run of play that we didn't deal with at all well. Ross Blackmore got us back on level terms fairly swiftly with Ron Hanson providing the assist. However, there were signs we were taking some aspects of defending for granted, with our midfield players too focused on attack and not quick enough to get back when the ball had been lost.
We were caught out on about 35 minutes when the oppo broke down our left side, and easily converted the centred cross from the middle of the area; a number of our players with looks on their faces suggesting they thought others had been culpable, but no one really entirely blame free themselves. It was collectively a poor goal to have given away, and let the oppo back into the game. The last ten minutes of the half we surrendered all our self-composure, and seemed to just allow the oppo to play, which really shouldn't be happening with a five man midfield.
Half time came, and we all knew we had to replicate the first 35 minutes, and would be fine, as long as we took our chances. A debatable decision saw Darragh's headed goal on about 55 minutes that went in inside the post, and through a hole in the net out of the back. The referee didn't see the ball go in, and took it that the effort had gone just wide. One of the senior oppo players told me after full time that half their team thought it was a legitimate goal, and had he realised at the time they would have told the referee as they are a 'fair team'. Well, that's a nice sentiment, and I'm sure it was meant well, but unfortunately the other half of their team including the goal keeper did not display the same sportsmanship at the time when it would have counted, and the goal was not given.
We are not entirely blameless in our own misfortune here either, as our own Ross Wright said that during the warm up the ball had gone through the same hole on three or four occasions, but we didn't raise the matter with the referee before the start of the game. One to remember next time lads...
It turned out this was quite a key moment. If I've got the sequence right, this would have levelled the game, and given us all the momentum. Instead, we had several minutes of our players arguing intermittently with the referee, and in that period the oppo broke and got a third, mostly due to our central defenders getting caught out too far forward when filling in for central midfielders who had gone AWOL. 3-1 down still with 20 minutes to play we switched to 4-4-2 as a formation, and the change of shape immediately made a difference for us, with a lot more pressure going on the oppo. Craig Jones got a goal back to make it 3-2, and our tails were up again.
Then, Ross Blackmore got through onto a great Alex Kyriakides cross box pass, only somehow to miss the goal from just three yards out with the keeper stranded. We still weren't done though, and kept on flying forward to try and salvage at least a point. There appeared to me to be a stonewall penalty - Alex Kyriakides was clean through on goal, with a long passed ball dropping nicely over his shoulder just outside the six yard line, only for a defender to plant a hand firmly in the middle of his back and push him face first on the ground. I don't think it could've been a clearer penalty to give, but the referee waved play on.
With our concentration lacking the oppo broke, heavily outnumbering our defence, and tapped in a fourth to seal a win. Not a win they particularly deserved, but here is the main point: They didn't waste time arguing with the ref, got on with the game, and finished all four of the chances they had.
My own view: We had more than enough 'in the locker' to win this game, with any formation or combination of players, but we failed because we stopped working hard enough for each other, and lost our shape. We got drawn into arguing with an official over decisions, but in doing so we literally and metaphorically took our eye off the ball, which cost us. If we had stayed focused and got on with it, I don't think we'd have lost this one. This is a lesson to learn for us as a team, because we will have to deal with the same circumstances again this season, and we will need to do much better next time.