Third Placed Meadonians Enhanced Title Hopes

Amateur Football Combination Premier Division - Old Meadonians 2 Honourable Artillery Company 1

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It's All About The Beautiful Game - Old Meadonians' past, present and future

Third placed Old Meadonians enhanced their title hopes, bringing second placed Parmiterians and leaders Albanian well within their sights with help from Parkfield who bested Albanian one-nil and a boost from a slick winner in the dying minutes of a hard fought game at Riverside Lands on Saturday. Visitors Honourable Artillery Company belied their lower mid-table status by matching Meads blow for blow and making this a cracking competition which was enjoyed by an appreciative and vocal crowd. This wasn’t the only matching going on as Meads’ coach Paul Rumley emulated Olivier with a pre-match St. Crispin’s Day exhortation.

In Meads’ days of yore this would have been a call for total football which would have seen all comers being put to the sword including the so-called elite from the Southern Amateur League. On Saturday this purposeful pep-talk was simply paraphrased as ‘Are you up for it?’ as, in these times of tightening belts, it preluded a battening down of the hatches at the rear and a blanketing the midfield with the pace of wing backs Ed Glover and Peter Eguae kept on a leash to shield the back three, but ready to back up any salients opened in enemy territory. Up front Alex Jones and Colin Hawkins provide a canny mix of youthful endeavour and experienced cunning to platform the order of the day, counter attack to exploit any cracks caused by overextension of resources on the part of the visitors. H.A.C. provided the other important ingredient, namely the ability to maintain constant pressure and get round the back of any of Meads’ nine man defence who strayed out of position.

As always Meads’ answer to adversity is a high work rate and Saturday was no exception. Underpinning the hosts’ strategy was the Atlas-like unflappable shot stopping of often unsung hero, keeper Gary Robinson whose talents were in constant demand from the flow of an unhealthy surfeit of corners conceded by last ditch defence. Referee Phil Gilmour, ably supported by his assistants, relished the challenge and the necessity of putting in a performance befitting his imposing physical stature, even taking time out to calm a vociferous section of the crowd. Robinson could do nothing about the visitors taking the lead on twenty minutes when failure to attack a cross from the right allowed a freely headed opener to add to Meads’ siege mentality.

With ten minutes to half time Jones’ non-stop persistency saw him beat the H.A.C. defence to a near-post cross and when his glancing header brought a reflex save from the keeper his speedy reactions allowed him to bundle in the loose ball. The second half saw the visitors intensifying their pressure, in particular exposing the left flank of Meads’ defence and calling for increasing feats of daring from Robinson who was left to deal with raids on his near post and save his side against the odds. During the last half hour the visitors’ attacks produced a run of six corners which were resolutely defended. With twenty minutes on the clock a brilliant substitution brought on latter-day Steve Staunton, Kevin Quinn, in left mid-field to plug the leak and just as importantly release Eguae to move forward to menace a tiring defence and stifle the visitors’ initiative. The ploy worked perfectly, giving Meads a boost of confidence. With ten minutes to go Eguae went clear on the left and his long low cross fed a burst from mid-field by Glover.

Glover’s side-step gave him a brief sight of goal from twenty five yards at an angle and his big dipper threaded silky smoothly into the far top corner. Those who thought it was all over had another think coming as H.A.C. threw the kitchen sink at their hosts producing two more corners, one as a result of another back twisting Robinson save to push the ball round the post. Robinson then cleared up by rising in the crowded area to collect the corner. Slightly controversially, as far as seen from the press box was concerned, the MoM award went to Ed Glover for his work rate and stunning late strike, shading Gary Robinson with Will Gerrish in the frame.

Team: Robinson, Palmer, Pointer, McCombe, Glover, Costello, Gerrish, Thompson, Eguae, A. Jones, Hawkins, (Quinn).

March 10, 2011