Old Mead's Lose Premiership Crown To Albanians
Amateur Football Combination Premier Division Albanian 5 Old Meadonians 3
League leaders Albanian emphatically earned the title of successors to Old Meadonians’ A.F.C. Premiership crown by taking a leaf from the book by which Meads have previously lived, the ‘scorebook’, and putting five past a hitherto habitually stingy defence at Mill Hill on Saturday.
This was only the second time the champions have suffered thus in their eight year reign of plenty, the last time being in a pre-season Greenland Cup game three years ago, which Meads were treating as a trial.
Nottsborough the perpetrators on that occasion were rushed out of the A.F.A. Senior Cup later in revenge for their effrontery. This time there can be no time for a come back as, in one fell swoop, Albanian effectually ended Meads’ tilt at an eighth successive title and doused an outside threat to their hopes which was more mathematical than logically likely to be fulfilled.
In the past few years Meads have made a point of cultivating a high conversion rate but now, by an ironic role reversal, it was their hosts who converted five of the seven chances they created while the visitors uncharacteristically spurned five of those they had. Meads’ customary slow start was also punished as Albanian capitalised within two minutes when Allie McCombe’s clearing header struck the back of a striker’s head and fell conveniently. Even so, although the hosts took the lion’s share of opening possession, before ten minutes were up Meads’ Leon Smith had been thwarted twice by the excellent home keeper who was to make telling saves throughout.
Albanian were two up before, on forty minutes, Smith atoned by heading in Kevin Quinn’s corner at the back post. Yet before the halftime whistle there was still time for Colin Hawkins to dip one just over from the edge of the area and for the hosts to redress the balance, hitting Meads on the break.
The visitors showed their innate resilience by putting on pressure immediately after the break and pulling one back when Smith, who was on fire, powered through to slip the ball past the keeper. This was a signal for Meads to throw caution to the winds by slipping into an ‘all or nothing’ gear with a high back line and keeper Shannon Toyne sweeping at the edge of his area. Any hopes of recovery appeared dashed with ten minutes to go as an astute lob from fully thirty five yards sailed over Toyne’s head into the net.
Undaunted, just when it might have been thought to be all over, skipper Laurie Pointer took up the cause, got the bit between his teeth, ran in a beeline from the edge of his area, played successive one twos with Smith and Hawkins and fed the back of the net from ten yards.
Albanian then put an end to Meads’ aspirations with the best of the bunch. Their breaking left back took a centre on his chest and from eighteen yards skimmed a magnificent halfvolley beyond Toyne to have the last say. Meads could at least take solace from the fact that they persisted to the end and heart from the sight of long absent (from injury) club captain Jack Costello coming on for ten minutes.
Team: Toyne, McCombe, Pointer, Quinn, Eguae, (McGuinness), Rhone, (Lovell), Gerrish, (Costello), Hugh Jones, Glover, Hawkins, Smith.