Old Mead’s Reach Semis in Defence of Cup Title
London Old Boys Senior Cup Bealonians 0 Old Meadonians 1
London Old Boys Senior Cup holders Old Meadonians got into the semi-final courtesy of a first minute goal and eighty-nine minutes of almost continuous dogged defence at Fairlop on Saturday.
A sleepy start by hosts Bealonians allowed strikers Colin Hawkins and Leon Smith free passage down the right from where Smith slid the ball into the path of mid-fielder Will Gerrish who couldn’t miss from ten yards.
If this was meant to deter the hosts or draw their sting it didn’t work as they swarmed all over Meads, in the process bringing out a superb virtuoso performance from their second team keeper Travis Glenn, deputising for injured Kris Sayers.
Throughout, Glenn performed with great assurance, what is mistakenly termed routine tidying up around the area, claiming, catching and punching, often surrounded by more foes than friends, as the crosses, corners and free-kicks rained down. This was just as well as his colleagues didn’t always stick their heads above the parapet to clear what was an accurate aerial bombardment.
As if this weren’t enough Glenn punctuated his performance with a series of heart stopping saves. By the twenty minute mark he had arched back to turn over a shot dropping behind him and at full stretch turned a fierce header from a corner onto the post to safety. For good luck, when normally immaculate sweeper Dan Salanson turned a back pass into the path of an incoming striker Glenn’s timely advance denied him the angle and forced him to attempt a swerve which beat the near post.
The fact that between these acts of derring-do mid-fielder Dwayne Rhone cleared a header from another corner off the line shows what pressure Meads were under. If this gives the impression that the hosts were using route one this is not so. Generally they were the hungrier and apparently the fitter of the two sides. They built well from the back, kept possession in mid-field and with the aid of an excellent overlapping right back managed to get behind Meads defence almost at will. They sensed Meads’ indecision in the air at the back and were soon causing trouble with a series of well flighted free-kicks and pinpointed crosses and corners.
At the other end the visitors had to be content with breakaways and sporadic raids. On fifteen minutes Smith just failed to control a ball coming from behind him over his shoulder and then his turn and shot from twenty five yards was just wide. Hawkins, doing the job supplier and supporting his partner also had a fierce shot from a narrow angle saved at the near post. The second half saw no let-up in Bealonians’ pressure and Glenn continued to be in constant demand.
With half an hour to go Meads’ coach Paul gambled on the return to fitness of centre back Alastair McCombe and mid-fielder Henrik Jacobsson to give more air power and this bolstered both the defence and mid-field to the final whistle. We then adjourned to the warmth of the bar to enjoy Bealonians’ hospitality and watch JW on TV emulating Travis Glenn whose final ‘claim’ of the afternoon was the MoM award.
February 7, 2007