Old Meads' Triumphant Return To Cup Campaign
Amateur Football Alliance Senior Cup - East Barnet Old Grammarians 2 Old Meadonians 5
After a weather enforced lay-off of three weeks Old Meadonians returned to the campaign eager to join the heat of battle in the Amateur Football Alliance senior cup but don’t be completely fooled by this score-line. It mostly reflects the crushing superiority they exerted over a poor East Barnet side during the first half of this match when Meads went four up and, having turned the clock back five years to more palmy days, looked capable of scoring on demand.
The second half was a different kettle of fish as, because of the peculiar lie of the land, the visitors found themselves looking directly into a blinding sun, failed to accept that they could not continue to play the same expansively carefree football as before the interval and almost succeeded in perpetrating a most embarrassing reversal as the hosts came within the width of a post of reducing the deficit to one. Ebogs are perched perilously at the bottom of the first division of the Southern Amateur League with a paltry four points from a win and a draw, and showed it, as Meads, with playmaker Jack Costello on song, after early probing, carved their way through a bewildered defence at will.
On fifteen minutes Costello’s twenty five yard screaming free kick came down off the bar for Alex Jones to tap in but on consulting his assistant the referee indicated that the ball had already crossed the line. With the hosts playing a suicidally high line against Meads’ prime weapon, pace, in another fifteen minutes it was three as first Alex Jones beat the trap to run in on the keeper from forty yards out and then Costello repeated the dose from wide on the right, cutting in and lashing his second into the far corner. On forty minutes following good work by Colin Hawkins and Alex Jones the ball was laid back for fullback Nick Jones to score from fifteen yards and there was just time before the half-time whistle for midfielder Will Gerrish to be foiled by the alert home keeper in a one on one. In this time Meads’ keeper Gary Robinson had only touched the ball for goal kicks and back passes and Ebogs’ only effort had been a far post header which had sailed harmlessly by.
In reply to coach Rory Vermeulen’s apparent request for more of the same it seemed that the team was going to be only too happy to comply. Within five minutes of restart Peter Eguae had twice cut in from the left, firstly to have his shot blocked by the advancing goalie and then to put a low drive just outside the far post. Meads then made their first mistake, taking their collective foot off the accelerator and giving the hosts the midfield initiative.
Immediately Ebogs swarmed forward and began to infest the visitors’ penalty area with Meads relying on breaks away to relieve pressure. Midfielders were not tackling back and were, more tellingly, failing to give a sorely beleaguered back four the outlets needed to take pressure off. Could it be that there was a lack of that basic ingredient, stamina; if they were finding it hard to see off the weaker sides, how would they fare against stronger challengers later in the competition? Ebogs break came when Meads lost the ball unnecessarily on the halfway line and it was rapidly fed forward for the defence to be wrong footed for a simple gift.
This was just a sample of what was to come which was twenty minutes mayhem featuring Robinson touching the ball onto the bar and saving a point blank shot from the rebound. Then came a deserved penalty which was duly despatched, a good shout which fell on deaf ears for one the other end as Gerrish was comprehensively clattered in the area and then a second just award to the hosts, squandered onto the post and wide as Robinson guessed wisely. Meads then brought on their subs and succeeded in steadying things down although straight way Luke Graham’s early touch was to clear off the line. Now Meads took over once more and, after ten minutes of controlled possession, with a minute to go Costello redressed the balance, notching his third with a cheeky lob.
Vermeulen’s fellow coach Paul Rumley took charge of the post-match briefing; enthusing over a stupendous team effort, the current form of Jack Costello and the return to fitness of the versatile Ed Glover after five months out with knee ligament problems. He deftly deflected criticism with his avuncular turn of phrase and refused to accept that, as one interrogator put it, ‘the wheels had almost come off’.
Instead he described the result and score-line as no distortion of the facts and suggested that those venerable founding fathers of the Football League, Old Carthusians, Meads’ next opponents in the quarter finals and whom he admitted are flying at the moment, might come unstuck on Riverside Lands under a juggernaut driven by his Man of the Match Jack Costello.
Team: Robinson, N. Jones, Pointer, Thompson, Rhone, (Graham), Costello, Gerrish, Quinn, Eguae, A. Jones, (Glover), Hawkins.
January 12, 2011