1st XI v Old Blues WON 3-0 (Away)
As we arrived in standard Stationer’s fashion, half the team lost or stuck somewhere near Hanger Lane, you couldn’t help but get the feeling of deja vu. But when we eventually did get out onto the pitch, with 5 minutes before kickoff, we found the opposition finishing off their hour long warm up! Apart from all this, there was still a quiet confidence amongst our ranks, thanks to two previous impressive cup displays.
The game kicked off and right from the start we were on it. Unless my eyes were deceiving me, I had just witnessed an Old Stationers first eleven put ten passes together, and create a chance, without the other team even touching the ball. However, at that point, against the run of play, Old Blues hit the post. With our own post still vibrating, we sweep up field. A great bit of play amongst our boys up front, interchanging passes then the ball then lands to Matty Taylor on the edge of the box but oh no, it’s on his left peg! We all know what’s going to happen here .... he’s only gone and slotted it in the bottom corner! Great finish! One nil, go on the boys!
With our confidence growing and growing, we had James on the left, beating people for fun, Adriano and Sean up front, interchanging, holding the ball up nicely, crosses being whipped in, and old Blues hardly getting out of their half. It was only a matter of time before it was two. This time Sean got in behind the old Blues back four, calmly rounding the goal keeper, and from a tight angle confidently rolled it in for number two. We’re in dreamland now and there’s only 20 minutes gone.
Finally Perry is called into action, the old Blues winger slices across from the right, typical, that’s going in ... But no! Perry acrobatically tips the ball wide like a young Shaka Hislop!
Just as I was thinking to myself, everything’s going so well Jamie Reece’s breakfast decides to make a guest appearance! Luckily by that point, Marcus, who lives in Ealing about 10 minutes from the ground, finally graces us with his presence.
So, Jamie’s off, Marcus is on at right back and Third Choice over to left back: it’s a good job Third Choice can use both feet! We finished the first half as strongly as we started, with the boys in midfield and upfront terrorising the Old Blues back four. It could have easily been three by half time. Old Blues look shell-shocked.
As we returned to the pitch for the second half, I knew we were in trouble when I looked over to see the Old Blues team in a mighty duck style huddle with their manager reading them the riot act. Not what you want to see, bearing in mind they’re flying high near the top of the league. And so it proved, they came out a different team and looked determined to turn the game around. But we were more than up for the battle. With Marc Smith and Matty Taylor outnumbered in centre midfield, fighting like warriors for every first and second ball, and the wingers doing their utmost to help out the fullbacks, fifteen minutes crept by. It was at this point that the game started to get more and more heated, the tackles started to fly in and the tempers started to fray. To make matters worse, a heavy fog started to engulf the pitch making it feel more like a battlefield than a football pitch. As the long ball started to fly into our box, you could hardly see it coming. But Ben Jackson and Jamo somehow managed to bravely put their heads on everything. On they came, through the smoke, wave after wave, valiantly repelled by the magnificent boys in yellow and blue. Just as I started to think it was going to be our day, the ball fell kindly to the opposition striker, but somehow, going the other way and from point blank range, Perry managed to push the ball with his finger tips round the post. As we cleared the resulting corner I looked through the mist at Ben Jackson’s muddy red face, and I finally thought it was going to be our day. And so it proved. Minutes later our very own Adriano (Marcus Archer) made a driving run at the heart of the Old Blues defence, with opposition defenders bouncing off him, then just the keeper to round. The keeper slid out, Marcus pokes it past him and is about to put the ball into the empty net and the keeper desperately grabs his foot as he is about the shoot. Penalty! Our very own Stationers version of Frank Lampard, the ever reliable Tom Jackson, steps up to take the penalty and you know there is only ever going to be one outcome ... bottom right hand corner, great finish! We love him dearly. 0:3 and minutes to go.
With the opposition truly beaten, the referee blows the final whistle. What a result!
Great performances all round. We are finally starting to play as a team instead of individuals and show what we can truly do. A special mention must go to James, Jamo and Sean. These boys are all under 18, and are punching well above their weight, but never stop to amaze me week in and week out. Great strength, great character, great skill. Much love to all my dedicated readers, Norsemen at home next week, go on the boys! X
Reserves. vs Weirside Rangers Res. WON 2-1 (Home)
Goal scorers: Sam 1, Louie 1
This week saw the team participate in a top of the table clash. Weirside came into the game top of the pile, with Stationers two points behind but with a game in hand. The squad consisted of 12 players due to a couple players not showing up but the flexibility of the players allowed us to field a very strong starting 11.
The defence was made up of; Mario in goal, Rob, Kyri, Paul and Sean. Sam Started on the left wing, Adam and Lenos occupied the middle; Kieron was tasked with the right. George and Louie started up front. Having only conceded 5 goals this season the team was in a confident mood.
The opening ten minutes were tensely fought, although the pitch didn’t allow for neat football a real battle had emerged with both teams making tackles and pressuring high up the pitch. Our Wingers managed to get to the by-line but were unable to find that final pass to break the deadlock.
A silky move between George and Sam on the left saw the first shot saved by the Weirside keeper. Weirside also created their best chance of the half from the wide areas. Their right-winger got free and managed to slide the ball across the box, thankfully the incoming attacker wasn’t able to score, putting his chance wide of the post. Kieron whipped in a couple of crosses that just evaded George, Louie and Sam.
Playing uphill the team found it difficult to find the opening goal, but that wasn’t for the lack of trying. George and Louie did all they could up front but chances were difficult to come by, both teams defended deep and the half ended evenly at 0-0.
A chance to regroup, and discuss team tactics for the 2nd half with the belief that we could snatch a goal as long as we maintained our focus and continued to fight for each other. The Second half saw Pani replace Kieron, leaving George and Pani upfront and Louie on the right wing.
The start didn’t go according to plan and Weirside managed to steal an early goal after the break when a cross from the left was floated into the box and the forward leapt to head the ball over Mario and into the right side of the goal. Although we was kicking downhill Weirside took the lead, the team had a real battle to turn this game around.
Straight away Old Stationers replied with a sharp move, Lenos passed the ball into Pani who pulled a defender out and slid the ball into George who was cynically chopped down on the edge of the penalty area. Adam drilled in the resulting free kick but the keeper managed to get two hands on the ball. Stationers really began to knock on the door, looking for the equaliser to rescue the game. Sam wriggled his way into the box but his looping shot just evaded the goal.
George pushed hard trying to find the opening goal; another cross just missed him at the back post, while Louie began to really frighten their defence with his powerful runs in behind. George was then swapped for Kieron leaving Louie in the free role and Kieron back on the right flank.
Approaching the final quarter of the match, trailing 1-0, some crucial tactical decisions were made in an effort to get the equalizer. Kyri changed the formation, going with 3 at the back while leaving all 3 strikers up top that resulted in maximum effect. The move of the match then followed with ten minutes to go, Kieron quickly played the ball into Pani who released a first time pass into Louie who was running in from the right side into the space behind the defence. A thunderbolt of a strike proved too strong for the keeper and Louie had brought us back into the match, 1-1.
In the dying minutes the team wasn’t happy to settle for a point, Weirside sat deep and invited us on, so we went for the kill. A perfectly weighted ball from Kieron played out wide to Louie saw him skin the left back and fire a low cross across the 6yard box that beat the defenders to meet the oncoming Sam, who forced the ball into the net, 2-1.
In true smash and grab fashion the game ended and Stationers walked away with all the points and climbed above Weirside in the table to go top! A tremendous effort from the whole team, the defence was solid and disciplined, our midfielders were tough and creative, and the forwards fought endlessly until the final whistle. A solid Old Stationer performance against a well organised team.
A special mention for Mario, at 0-1 he pulled off a ‘Neuer’ and made a huge save, the ball was played across the box and he hurried across his line before stopping the shot from point blank range. A save that deserves as much credit as a goal would.
Next week we are at home to Ibis, hopefully we can take all three points, watch this space.
5th XI v Old Lyonians, WON 5-2 (Home)
Scorers: Phillips (2), Kyriakides, Glenn Hunt, Dan Avis
It's late, so I'm going to try and keep this report short and to the point.
Interesting match tactically. After much thinking about the insufficient support we've given to Billy using our 4-5-1 formation, this week we went for a 4-4-1-1. Which Alex K suggested was a bit like playing 4-4-2. Well, not quite. When you have Billy playing the deep striker role with his energy and indefatigable ability to play at a million percent right until the final minute was a great foil to Alex operating as an out and out lone striker. The first twenty minutes or so our shape was solid enough, and the opening exchanges were fairly even. However, as Alex got into the game he chased down every ball and the oppo defenders looked very uncomfortable, especially with Billy in behind him, and Nick P and Jay G (welcome back Jay) pushing forward in support. There was a period when we exerted a lot of pressure, and the oppo conceded corner after corner, but we just couldn't quite convert. Nevertheless, we had the initiative, but knew we needed to score, with our numbers due to go down to ten players at half time with Jay off to work, Ross Blackmore helping the 3's, Campbell dropping out unannounced last minute, and Toone AWOL being a good samaritan.
Our opener was a really nice team goal. We broke down an oppo attack on the edge of our own area, with (I think) Darragh winning the ball, Mike D getting on to it, squaring to Nick P, who clipped the ball over for Murphy to run on to. Murphy arced his pass over to Alex K, who fed Billy. Billy used his pace to beat the last man, and finished bottom right corner, with the keeper having no chance. We got a second off a corner a few minutes later, with Alex K side footing in from just outside the six yard box. We probably should've scored more in the half, but we were firmly in control.
Second half was much tougher, with us going down to ten. It was going to be a matter of hanging in there until Toone could join us and take us back up to 11. We started alright, slowing the game down, and keeping possession, but slowly and surely we started to lose our composure and looked more and more hurried. Whilst Glenn Hunt in goal (again, welcome back) was well protected in the first half, in the second half gaps started to open. The oppo got one about 15 minutes in. Then another 5 minutes later. Were we going to fold? Probably we might have if we'd carried on as we had done, but there were two changes made. The first was Dan Avis and Darragh agreeing to swap positions, with Dan coming into midfield. At first his extra running energy didn't appear to be making as much difference as it usually does, with him missing out on a few tackles, and the oppo continuing to attack. But actually his presence there started to turn the tide, with the oppo having a bit less time on the ball. Dan played much higher up than Darragh had done, and though this left bigger spaces in front of our defence, it was a risk that worked out for us, and pushed the oppo back enough for us to regroup behind. With Dan having changed the momentum of the game, we were then finally joined by Toone who immediately took over in goal. So for the last twenty minutes we were back on even numbers with the oppo, and were able to release Glenn to play left midfield. Once we'd got back to even numbers the game swung back in our direction. You sensed the third goal would be decisive. We got it. And then a fourth, and a fifth. Avis getting a header, Billy scoring an scorching shot from outside the box, and Glenn Hunt deservedly getting on the score sheet after so generously going in goal.
The most rare thing of all. Every team in the club won on the day. Which is a real rarity, and a great club effort.
A good Saturday afternoon. Well done all.