Meads Into The Hat For Semi-Finals
London Old Boys Senior Cup Quarter Final - Old Meadonians 4 Old Chigwellians 3
Facing a team from the Public Schools Arthurian League on Riverside Lands for the second week running Old Meadonians beat Saturday’s vistors, Old Chigwellians, but not without the help of the ‘rub of the green’, to go into the hat for the semi-finals of the London Old Boys Senior Cup.
In the midst of their palmy days in the ‘noughties’ when, because of long cup runs and the need to mop up league back-logs involving, one season playing five games in twelve days, it was not unusual for Meads to have and, indeed need, a squad of twenty five and use a total of over thirty players in a season.
For coaches Paul Rumley and Rory Veremeulen it was, of necessity, a vital part of strategy to use rotation to maintain an even state of match fitness throughout the squad. Nonetheless this would have been easy compared with this season with a meagre squad of under twenty at their disposal. However, even in present straitened circumstances, they still adhere to this policy and thus on Saturday they found themselves very nearly hoist by it.
Having allowed players leave of absence, they were then hit by a wave of late sick parade attendees which left the bench occupied by two strikers, one of whom was carrying an injury. This was compounded when recent returnee from injury, striker Ed Glover, limped off with a strained hamstring on ten minutes. Almost immediately a moment’s ball watching resulted in a visiting attacker having time to line up a sweet strike from twenty five yards which gave stand-in keeper, Simon Greening no chance. This served as a wake up call and after a ten minute period of retrenchment there followed twenty minutes of Meads playing champagne football with mid-fielder Jack Costello popping the corks. This put them three up and in total command. First a fiery free kick from Costello came down off the bar for centre-back Ali McCombe’s speedy reaction to give him the headed equaliser.
A repeat performance from the same duo saw Meads take the lead as the initial shot was blocked. Here a blip in proceedings meant Greening earning plaudits from the dug-out as he showed his cool in a one on one, standing up and beating the striker to the punch. Normal service was resumed with mid-fielder Andy Thompson unlucky with two headers and then, not to be denied, scoring from a goal-mouth scramble. Just before half time Jack Costello capped a performance which gave him the MoM award by crisply notching Meads’ fourth and hammering in what should have been the final nail in the visitors’ coffin.
Talk at half time of maintaining discipline but still not neglecting the score book must have fallen on deaf ears because, after the resumption, Meads all but let things slip and with a semi-fit striker the only man on the bench the coaches couldn’t stir the pot by shuffling their pack.
Halfway through the second period they had handed the initiative over to modest visitors who gratefully accepted two gifts and while striker Colin Hawkins was just over with a lob which had the keeper beaten the visitors almost had the last laugh as another speculative dip which would have given them an equaliser came out off the underside of the bar. If Meads are to win the cup let alone get to the final they are going to have to rely on more than a twenty minute purple patch to bring success.
Team: Greening, Graham, Pointer, McCombe, Rhone, Costello, Gerrish, Thompson, Quinn, Glover, (Eguae), Hawkins.
February 17, 2011