No Revenge For Mead's As Albanians Hold Them To A Draw
Amateur Football Combination Premier Division: Old Meadonians 1 Albanian 1
Even in their ‘back to back’ return match with league leaders and championship chasing, Albanian, there could be no full revenge available to Old Meadonians for their opponents’ combination blows of the previous week, which ended Meads’ outside chances of challenging for an eighth successive title and put five past them.
The best Meads’ management team, Paul Rumley and Rory Vermeulen could do was to set a cunning, but gentle little ambush for Albanian at Riverside Lands on Saturday. It has long been Meads’ managers’ policy to ‘blood’ promising youngsters at the end of the season.
In fact it is felicitous that one those who benefited from this enlightened system four years ago at the age of sixteen now graces League Two’s Barnet after an interim season and a half at Harrow Borough. Rumley and Vermeulen adapted this end of season ploy on Saturday by resting no fewer than nine of the players who lost to Albanian last week and, because Meads’ second team had an important league game, giving Swede Henryk Jacobsson his first start of the season following long term injury and bringing in three from the fifth and four from the third team to fill the vacancies.
That this wheeze worked only partially is down to the ref not having read the script and Albanian preferring a happier ending than the one their hosts had planned for them. As it is, the league leaders can now be pipped at the post by third placed Aloysians whereas had they beaten Meads on Saturday they would have been safe from pursuers. The first half was fairly even with Meads, best effort coming on twenty minutes when Eddie May’s shot from fifteen yards was deflected over the bar. The hosts were not be denied as on forty minutes another deflection took Dwayne Rhone’s shot from the edge of the area over the keeper for a deserved half time lead.
The second half saw Meads attacking their favourite goal and having the territorial edge and Albanian having to settle for breakaways. The pressure told as first Leon Smith burst through only to see his lob over keeper scrape the top of the bar and Colin Hawkins similar attempt suffered the same fate. Now the visitors decided to retaliate and put in two power plays when the Meads’ goal-mouth looked like a scene from Shakespeare’s Henry V as John Raffa made a brilliant save at full stretch, Rhone cleared off the line twice and bodies were flung in front of attackers to block shots.
However, it looked good for Meads when, five minutes from time, Peter Eguae sped onto a lost cause on the left surprising the Albanian goalie who was caught in no man’s land. Eguae’s cross was met by Colin Hawkins’ leap at the far post and the ball fell into the net. Despite there being no protest from defenders or spectators and no flag from the assistant referee the referee’s whistle decreed that a mystery infringement had taken place to deny Meads what would have cemented a just victory.
Salt was rubbed in when Albanian went straight down the other end and scored from close range. The management gave the MoM award to Chris Brassington for his masterly marshalling of the defence, just shading Ben Boateng.
Team: Raffa, Boateng, (Mayou), Brassington, Hanley, May, (D. Smith), Glover, Rhone, Jacobsson, (Granvile), Eguae, Hawkins, L. Smith