Old Meadonians 3 Old Minchendenians 1
Over the last two seasons Old Minchendenians have proved a painful thorn in Meads’ side, taking the honours in all four meetings and, in the process, not being averse to cocking a snook. On Saturday, the boot was on the other foot with Minches, as defending champions, being entertained at Riverside Lands by a Meads side who were unwilling to be upstaged, fielding a strong squad which, although it featured comparatively untried elements, could have the luxury of being able to give league representative star Jack Costello the afternoon off and to comfortably absorb the set back of losing midfielder Misha Mantel after twenty minutes.
Meads lined up with five across the midfield in support of a resolute back four, with the mercurial Craig Jones a lone ranger up front. This was just as well because, although Meads shaded the first half, their visitors sought to impose themselves with tactics designed to cow the sturdiest resistance. Meads, however, were not for cowing and, while Minches had more of possession this was mainly in their own territory and thus sterile and it was the hosts who contrived the chances, with Dave Brennan putting a header just wide and fellow mid-fielder Will Gerrish shuddering the crossbar from thirty yards.
Frustrated Minches now showed their dark side which led to Mantel being body-checked to the ground and limping off, for young striker Matt Allen to slot in behind Jones up front. As he passed one of the assistant referees Mantel showed him the six inch stud marks on his thigh which he claimed had been deliberately made while he was prone. Meads’ back-lash was delivered on the half hour by slippery striker Jones; putting the ball between two defenders he avoided the sandwich aand showed a clean pair of heels to loop the ball over the advancing keeper. The second half began with the rejuvenated visitors putting in a twenty minute blitz-krieg backed by aerial bombardment but as Meads back four successfully repelled all attempts by Minches to advance the latter began to blame the referee when they didn’t get their own way. Even so, because of this pressure, they deserved their equalizer which came when they were awarded a dubious free-kick forty yards out and the ball was pumped into the area whence it took a mazy pinball rout into Gary Robinson’s goal.
Now Meads upped the ante by taking Jones off, infusing the mid-field and putting on Jeff Phillips up front. They piled on the pressure and took back the lead after ten minutes following one of a string of offences by the visitors. From the resulting free-kick, Ali McCombe caught the visitors on the hop. Instead of pumping the ball into the box he put left back Kevin Quinn in on the left and his pinpoint centre was touched in by the alert Phillips. With ten minutes to go managers Paul Rumley and Rory Vermeulen showed they had grasped the essentials of the ‘roll on, roll off’ sub system being trialled by the league at the request of the F.A. by bringing back Jones for a final bit of tormenting. He obliged by finding the top corner of the net from twenty yards with five minutes to go. In their post-match briefing Rumley and Vermeulen cautioned against either euphoria or elation and expressed themselves as guardedly encouraged, citing an early injury list of four for this calm approach. Craig Jones was named MoM.
Squad: Robinson, Shea, McCombe, Pointer, Quinn, Chapman, Mace, Thompson, Gerrish, Brennan, Mantel, Jones, Allen, Phillips.
September 19, 2012