Old Salvatorians 0 Old Meadonians 4
Meads throw down the gauntlet in season opener
Amateur Football Combination Premier Division
The preseason ‘phoney war’ over, in their first league game, Old Meadonians hit the ground running and threw down the gauntlet in defence of their premiership title to administer a sound drubbing to promotees, Old Salvatorians, at Salvos’ well appointed Edgware base, ‘The Hive’, on Saturday. However, this was only after an opening twenty minute exchange of skirmishes when Meads had to thank keeper Gary Robinson who was at a stretch to deal with the hosts early push as they got behind Meads’ defence to cause trouble with crosses and corners.
At this point the tide turned when defender Adam Goode headed the visitors’ first from playmaker Jack Costello’s whipped free kick. From that moment there was only one team buzzing; Meads’ rearguard locked the door, leaving Robinson happy to hoover up behind them for most of the duration. In fact in the next five minutes Goode might have had a hat trick; he narrowly failed to make the right connection with two more crosses as Meads, doing a good impersonation of Alf Ramsey’s ‘wingless wonders’, prodded and probed, brilliantly led by new signing, Craig Jones who sped to all corners of the compass like a latter-day Roger Hunt.
It would have been no travesty if Meads had turned round five up, but they settled for one more and it was fitting that Craig Jones should supply it by notching his maiden goal for Meads five minutes before the break, pouncing on a rebound when the home keeper saved well from Costello. The press only heard the first two words of coach Paul Rumley’s half time talk, ‘Superb, fantastic…’ before being shown the outside but, on the restart, it was obvious that the players had been told to keep it up which they did with renewed vigour, tightening their grip in mid-field to keep the hosts on the back foot.
Fifteen minutes on, Peter Eguae whose pace and strength on the ball was an asset throughout, burst through on the right, held off all comers and his cross shot from the edge of the area screamed into the far corner for Meads’ third. By now Salvos were a spent force hardly able to get out of their own half as their defenders, desperate for a platform from which to attack, played the ball across the back and were relentlessly harried into mistakes by attackers under touchline instruction to ‘Work him’. In one of Salvo’s few excursions into enemy territory, Robinson showed he was still alert by sprinting off his line to dive and claim the ball from a striker’s feet.
Further chances continued to go close and the twenty-five yard cracker-jack Costello conjured up thundered back off the bar before the ever inventive Nick Jones found a novel way to set the seal with Meads’ fourth. His thirty-five yard mortar-like free-kick dropped just under the bar while the shell-shocked Salvo’s keeper kept his head down. In the last ten minutes there was still time for sub Kevin Quinn to scrape the bar from distance and wing-back Misha Mantell to be unlucky with a far post header. In his post-match briefing coach Rory Vermeulen, though naturally pleased with the performance, insisted that feet would be kept firmly on the ground. He gave the MoM award jointly to excellent debutants, mid-fielder John Shea and striker Craig Jones.
Team: Robinson, Goode, N. Jones, McCombe, Costello, (Grahame), Gerrish, Shea, Richards, (Quinn), Mantell, Eguae, C. Jones.
September 14, 2011