Old Mead's Form Crushes League Strugglers
Amateur Football Combination Premier Division: Old Meadonians 6 Hale End Athletic 1
Ahead of their Amateur Football Alliance Senior Cup Final clash with much-fancied champions of the Southern Amateur League, Nottsborough, next Saturday, a rejuvenated Old Meadonians found some timely goal-scoring form to crush league strugglers Hale End Athletic at Riverside Lands on Saturday.
In a bold plan to accelerate striker Colin Hawkins’ return from long-term injury, Meads’ management started Hawkins and kept fellow striker Leon Smith on the bench. The result was a first half in which the visitors edged matters territorially, bringing the best out of the hosts’ defence, three first class saves from keeper Shannon Toyne and giving Meads the chance to turn round one up from an Ed Glover penalty on the half hour.
This was despite the hosts conceding the majority of possession and seeing Barry McGuinness limp off on twenty minutes with a groin problem. Hawkins was thus able to ‘play himself in’ and was soon showing that his innate ability to hold the ball up and distribute had not deserted him as his colleagues were to find to their advantage throughout. It was Coach Paul Rumley who took centre stage during the interval, in an attempt to instil confidence, urging the team to generate self-belief to exert pressure.
The effect was immediate as right wing-back Peter Eguae began to make himself felt, effectively running the game for opening part of the second period. It was he who instigated Meads’ second fifteen minutes on, threading through traffic into the area. When the advancing keeper blocked his shot the ball spun across to the left where Kevin Quinn made no mistake from fifteen yards.
Five minutes later, Hawkins’ cool head allowed him to look up and lob the goalie from the edge of the area for Meads’ third and then immediately to wriggle in from thirty yards out and put the game beyond doubt. At this point Hale End took their consolation, the ball going in off a head similar to that of Alistaire McCombe from a corner. Meads’ next was notched by Leon Smith, coming off the bench to outpace his marker on the left and score from the narrowest of angles.
With five minutes to go there was still time for Glover to head in from Dwayne Rhone’s cross and for Hawkins to show fallibility by lifting the ball over from six yards. The MoM award went to keeper Shannon Toyne for his first half saves.
The post-match briefing was enlivened by manager Rory Vermeulen’s reaction to the suggestion that Meads’ management had been guilty of playing mind games in past seasons and were doing the same now by hyping their squad’s present injury problems: He pointedly looked skywards, yawned caustically and said anyone who believed that would believe anything.
There was no time for such trivia and the loss of seven players to retirement and iconic skipper Jack Costello from injury was enough to focus the mind on essentials.
Team: Toyne, Salanson, Palmer, McCombe, McGuinness, (Eguae), Hugh Jones, Lovell, (L. Smith), Quinn, Rhone, Glover, Hawkins.
April 8, 2008