Old Minchendenians 2 Old Meadonians 0
This was to be the level mini-plateau, the semi-final, before the ascent to the summit of this Everest of London amateur cups, the A.F.A. Senior Cup Final, but for Old Meadonians it was the day their dream of a possible clean sweep of all four of the competitions they’d entered was shattered by their more focused colleagues from the A.F.C. Premiership, Old Minchendenians, as Meads huffed and puffed for most of the first half, failed to blow down Minches’ defence and finally flat-lined after being outfought for a lot of the second half at Bank of England on Saturday.
For this game there was no reason for Meads’ coaches to depart from the high energy strategy which has proved so successful in bringing a run of a good dozen wins and over forty goals to boot, many of them coming from mid-field, especially with leading scorer Craig Jones having to be used sparingly as he was nursing an niggling and persistent ankle injury. However, it is interesting that during Meads’ halcyon era the, ‘noughties’, (two triples, three doubles, unbeaten in open play, 2005/6) their squad was of necessity over twenty five and the pool of players used in a season might be over thirty. This season Meads have attempted to emulate such feats with a core squad of under twenty and thus they may yet be victims of their own across the board success. On Saturday they had Ed Glover ploughing a lone furrow up front down the middle and five across mid-field with Peter Eguae and Jack Costello coming from deep on the left and right respectively. However, Minches’ defence dealt well with crosses and the support necessary from Meads’ usually lively mid-field, to sustain telling pressure rarely materialised and so this three prong attack became too isolated to cause Minches’ defence other than intermittent problems.
Although Meads more than shaded possession and territorial advantage in the first half the sum of their efforts on goal was from an Andy Thompson shot from the edge of the box which was charged down and two unlucky Costello free-kicks, both brilliant efforts, deserving better. The first, taken from ten yards in from the left corner flag and ten yards from the goal line swerved unerringly under the middle of the bar only for Minches’ right back, Ashley D’Silva, to rise to the occasion and head clear. The second, from twenty five yards and central, was curled round the wall inches wide of the left hand post.
Then to compound matters, in the final fifteen minutes before the interval, Minches mounted a concerted attack and won a penalty after a piece of untidy defending and it took Gary Robinson’s excellent hybrid anticipation and reflex save to preserve Meads, clean sheet. However, the relief was short-lived as five minutes later Minches’ centre-forward, Tom Chenery ran onto a through ball to score from ten yards. Meads began the second half with a determined push which delivered a chance to Glover, thwarted by the keeper only for the mountain to get higher on the sixty five minutes when Minches central mid-fielder Garry Bulleyment broke through to dink over the advancing Robinson for their second.
It now became a question of whether Meads could snatch the goal which would put them back on the crest of a wave but their approach work became littered with misplaced passes for them to cede victory to the better team on the day.
Squad: Robinson, Shea, Pointer, McCombe, Quinn, Costello, Gerrish, Mace, Thompson, Eguae, Glover, Chapman, Brennan, C. Jones.
March 6, 2013