Old Meads Take Early Tumble Out of London Old Boys’ Senior Cup

London Old Boys’ Senior Cup - Old Westminster 2 Old Meadonians 1

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Sports in Chiswick

Old Meadonians

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The short journey under the railway from Riverside Lands to the Civil Service ground proved a bridge too far for Old Meadonians as they took an early tumble out of the London Old Boys’ Senior Cup to an honest, combative, fair but nonetheless modest Old Westminster team from the Public Schools’ Arthurian League on Saturday.

Apart from the unwelcome taste of shock defeat, generally there was a threat to the atmosphere of the match, for, despite there being hardly a foul of merit throughout, it was in constant danger of losing its focus from a whistling sound as shrill and insistent as fifes in the band of the Church Lads Brigade and this was reinforced by ceremonious sermonising at players for trivial transgressions on a dozen occasions. However, since the angst was divided evenly between the two teams, it did not affect the result. Also shared were mystery penalties, striker Ed Glover snapping one up for Meads to take the lead in the thirtieth minute. Five minutes later Westminsters equalised from the second but the event was more damaging for Meads keeper Simon Greening who was deemed to have come off his line to save the first attempt with a magnificent stretching dive well to his right and had his mild protest, when Westminsters’ next effort went in, recorded in the little black book.

The laws of dynamics dictate, especially in football, that, if you are moving one way you can be wrong footed in the opposite direction. In the circumstances it would appear to be extremely difficult to be moving forward and still to be able to launch yourself substantially to the right. So either Greening’s dynamics defying dive was unique or he was legally in the right place at the wrong time. The mind boggles. It has to be said that Meads, relying as they do on pace, were also hamstrung by a pitch just above postage stamp size and particularly in the first half Glover and fellow speedster Peter Eguae lacked an adequate supply of operating space. This meant too that a second half ferocious and prolonged siege of the home goal of forensic intensity yielded little more than frustration and battered egos in a defensive zone which just could not take more bodies and was as near impermeable as possible.

The fact that Meads have won this cup three times in the last eleven years, the A.F.A. senior cup four times and their own premier league title seven times but have started the season slowly for them, having drawn four of the six league games played, whilst the hosts have lost all of this season’s league starts puts this result into context. From the opening whistle the hosts used a more direct approach with lots of movement up front without really denting Meads’ armour while Meads carefully worked the ball forward to striker Colin Hawkins as anchor man with fellow front man Glover and midfielder Eguae providing a cutting edge and strong support coming from the remainder of the midfield. Thus, it came as a surprise that, while the visitors were more persistent and carried out a more calculated examination of Westminsters’ defence, it was the latter who very nearly drew first blood on twenty minutes when lax marking left Greening to deal with a one on one and his timely dash and dive saved the day.

The second half saw Meads chasing the game for the last half hour after the woeful defending of a free kick from forty yards out which gave away a free header. Meads then suffered double setbacks when they lost both Eguae and full back Dwayne Rhone with accidental facial cuts but with twenty minutes left Meads’ iconic player coach Jack Costello orchestrated a power play which, for its totality and the fact that it went unrewarded, had to be seen to be believed. This was a ten man attack which had delicate one twos, overlapping, dummy runs, the cunning back heels needed to outwit a packed defence and yet no reward, the net continually repelling the ball as time out of number it just scraped over and by.

The excellent home keeper had the opposite magnetic touch as on numerous occasions he was in the right position pull off saves or claim the ball as if it were on a string. Costello’s viciously swinging accurate corners kept the pressure at boiling point and for a while the equaliser looked inevitable and would lead to an avalanche but as the chances slipped away it dawned that it was not to be and Westminsters marched off with a worthy and large scalp dangling from their communal belt. For Meads the way they set about the task of rescuing the result showed a dawning of that old hunger which could spell success in other directions.

Team: S. Greening, Graham, Palmer, Thompson, Rhone, (Pointer), Thomkins, Costello, Gerrish, Eguae, (Jacobs), Glover, Hawkins.

October 27, 2009