Old Mead's Cup Campaign Judders to Creaking Halt
Amateur Football Alliance Middlesex & Essex Senior Cup - Old Meadonians 3 CivilService 3 aet Pens: 3 4
Old Meadonians’ A.F.A. Middlesex and Essex Senior Cup campaign juddered to a creaking halt as they twice surrendered a two goal lead and went down to near neighbours Civil Service at Riverside Lands on penalties with the last kick of the afternoon. Service were relegated from division one of the Southern Amateur League last season but are now bouncing back and placed second in division two.
They showed distinct resilience after being behind the eight ball, finally outlasted their more elderly hosts and held their nerve in the shootout. However, this was not before being given a lesson in how to take the fight to the enemy. Unusual for them, Meads hit the ground running and, for once, there was no goal start on offer to the visitors.
Well before they opened the scoring Meads were playing their way forward with some sublime football exposing the visitors’ flanks and, as a resulting corner was swung in by Steve Watson, Alex Jones beat the defence at the near post only for his header to come back off the bar. Reward came on fifteen minutes when a cross from the right was slipped under the keeper by Watson. Five minutes later came Meads’ first cushion as Colin Hawkins’ header glanced another Watson corner into the roof of the net. This was almost immediately snatched back by a grateful Service taking advantage of a comedy of errors. Meads’ keeper Gary Robinson was lured out of position by the promise of a speedy back pass and when this was delayed, although his emergency clearance fell fortuitously to a friend, a further misplaced pass fell into the path of a striker who promptly fed the open net. This meant only a lull in the constant pressure being applied on the visitors and ten minutes later mid-fielder Will Gerrish headed in a corner at the far post to put Meads back in the comfort zone.
The second half saw the hosts in another unaccustomed position, that of defending a lead against pushy visitors who were chasing the game down. Now anno domini took a part as Service’s superior fitness began to tell and they ground Meads down. More than once Robinson was called on to make important saves to preserve the lead; midway through the half centre-back Lawrie Pointer had to make a vital tackle on the halfway line and the gap he left behind him was exploited to allow the lead to be cut.
Now Service were relentless and with five minutes on the clock Robinson was called into action again but this time he couldn’t prevent the ball from falling loose to be poked in from close range. The final verdict was that Service deserved the spoils for their double come-back. Gary Robinson was named MoM.
Team: Robinson, N. Jones, McCombe, Pointer, Graham, Watson, (Rhone), (Quinn), Gerrish, Costello, Thomas, A. Jones, Hawkins.
November 24, 2010