High flying Eagles downed in extra time as Jones bags four
Amateur Football Alliance Middlesex & Essex Senior Cup
Thrusting Southern Amateur League second division club BB Eagles gave Old Meadonians the shock of their life in Saturday’s cup clash by taking a 3-1 first half lead before letting Meads back into the game and succumbing in extra time.
The Eagles are currently flying high and upwardly mobile, second in their division with two games in hand on leaders Civil Service, looking a cert for promotion and proving themselves capable of surviving at the top with a healthy league goal difference of fifteen.
Meads have won this cup three times in the last ten years but with eight regulars missing this was always going to be a challenge especially as they were fielding a totally untried central mid-field trio. Thus the stage was set for an intriguing tussle. However, this game was as much about who was available as who wasn’t and cometh the hour came striker Craig Jones.
In his first start for three weeks he scored all four of Meads’ goals taking his tally in the last two weeks to six and his season’s total to twelve. From the whistle it was Meads who started the better even with their mid-field engine spluttering ominously but just ten minutes in came the hosts’ first bombshell, against the run of play. A long ball out of defence went over the top of Meads’ back three leaving keeper Gary Robinson facing a deadly striker in a one on one. Just ten minutes later Jones equalised after showing he could pounce with the best.
The Eagles struck back almost instantly with a second opportunist goal when Meads’ central defence miscalculated the pace of another punt over the top leaving Robinson to pick the ball out of the net again and then the hosts inserted what they must have thought was the final nail in the visitors’ coffin when a low cross skittered in off Liam Palmer.
The cordon around Meads’ changing room was even more impenetrable than usual but it’s natural that harsh words were uttered. That, and the introduction of playmaker Jack Costello, although not proven recovered from injury, put an ominous pep into Meads as they stepped back onto the pitch. It was at this point that the hosts underestimated the visitors’ powers of endurance. The combined effect of Meads having a history of not reading the script and the hosts overplaying their hand by making inessential changes was dramatic as the visitors, driven on by Costello, began to get a grip on events despite the fact that by now they had three players hobbling but refusing to come off.
On the hour Kevin Quinn helped a pass through the middle over the top of a high defensive line and Jones helped himself by rounding the keeper. With just ten minutes to go Andrew Swann went to round his man on the right and a hand intervened for Jones to have the penalty in the net for the equaliser. By extra time the Eagles had scorched their wings as Meads maintained a tight control on play. In the first period Jones took a pass from Swann and completed his triumph by burying the ball in the corner of the net from the edge of the area to seal the MoM award.
Team: Robinson, Palmer, McCombe, Pointer, A. Swann, Goode, (Costello), Shea, Mantel, M. Swann, Quinn, C. Jones.
November 30, 2011