Old Mead’s Force Rivals to Swallow Bitter Pill

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Sports in Chiswick

Old Meadonians

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This was a titanic struggle worthy of the final but it meant that one of these teams, either visitors, Winchmore Hill from the prestigious Southern Amateur League, or the cup-holders and Amateur Football Combination Champions Old Meadonians, would exit the cup at the comparatively early stage of the third round. Neither side are experiencing an easy ride this season.

Hill are retrenching after a run of four successful and fruitful seasons and Meads, with six years of plenty under their belt are suffering from an injury list as long as your arm including five who have represented the league and found themselves starting forty year old Barry McGuinness and having on the bench two former skippers, ex Ryman star Kevin Quinn, and Dermot Jordan who are both late thirty somethings.

This is not to distract from the contribution from this experienced trio this season. They make up for any lack of pace with buckets of nous. Hill, who for me were well prompted throughout by the best player on the field in Neil Hurst, were the more cultured throughout but Meads were never going to come quietly and shaded them in the commitment department to just deserve the win. It took the visitors ten minutes to take a merited lead when failure to clear a corner saw the ball driven from just outside the area low past the despairing dive of Travis Glenn.

Meads were level ten minutes later when midfielder Alex Hugh Jones peeled off his marker to crash in a header from Colin Hawkins’ swerving corner. Minutes later midfielder Peter Lovell fed striker Leon Smith thirty yards out. He was past his marker in a trice and gave the keeper no chance with a rising shot into the roof of the net from twenty yards. With five minutes to go to half time there came a bizarre incident: Once more Smith’s pace put him through to lob the keeper. The ball was hooked onto the post and clear by a defender but an independent spectator taking photos on the goal line said it was over the line by two feet.

After the match when Meads’ manager Rory Vermeulen was asked why there was no protest from players and the dugout he replied that the referee’s assistant and the referee himself were not going to change their minds. Later on we were to see two similar Man.United efforts go unrewarded in the glare of TV cameras so this underlines the difficulties faced by refs and assistants at a lower level. The second half was to be a white knuckle ride with the visitors laying continuous siege and shots raining on and around the hosts’ goal and with young second team goalie Travis Glenn earning his spurs with several point blank saves.

It is difficult to recall Meads actually getting out of their own half. It seemed only a matter of time before Hill equalised as with a degree more steadiness this appeared inevitable. With twenty minutes to go Quinn replaced the tiring McGuinness to stiffen up Meads’ midfield and see them through to the whistle.

There was a clear lesson to be learnt as Meads scored their two goals from no more than four chances whereas the visitors must have had double that number of chances for their one goal return. If this was a bitter pill for Winchmore Hill to swallow they certainly did not show it as they were still drinking in the Meads’ Boathouse Bar three hours after the match.

Team: Glenn, Pointer, Hanley, Salanson, Lovell, Rhone, W. Gerrish, Hugh Jones, McGuinness, (Quinn), Hawkins, Smith.

January 31, 2007