Amateur Football Alliance Senior Cup
Old Owens 2 Old Meadonians 3 (aet)
Old Meadonians are through to the quarter finals of the Amateur Football Alliance Senior Cup, by the skin of their teeth, after a titanic 120 minute struggle with Southern Amateur League Premier Division champions, Old Owens, at Owens’ wind swept freezing fastness north of London in Hertfordshire which, on Saturday, was a location cold enough almost to bring to mind Eisenstein’s recreation of ‘The Ice Battle’ in his filmic inspiration “Alexander Nevsky”!
Of the weather assisted mayhem which ensued on the pitch, 94% was totally legal, 1% was illegal but not perniciously so and duly punished and 5% was debateable. The debateable element emanated from the attitude of the hosts towards the referee which started five minutes after the kick-off with one of the Owens’ players engaging the referee in conversation which can only be assumed to have been designed to influence decisions.
By the middle of the second half when Meads were sitting on a comforting two goal cushion, on several occasions, as many as five Owens’ players were gesticulating at the referee in their efforts, presumably, to have opponents more sternly disciplined than with the free-kick he might have just awarded. The Meads’ player most targeted was the one most capable of picking the deadlock which eventually took the game into extra time but, eventually for his own protection he had to be temporarily removed from the pitch to cool his heels in the shelter of the dugout. If you couple this with the fact that, after the game the referee admitted he was within a whisker of sending the Meads’ player off, this was unacceptable behaviour.
For the stalwart band of Meads’ supporters who braved the elements there was nail-biting tension but ultimate reward for both them and the team in a deserved and hard fought for victory finally brought about by Meads’ steadfast refusal to go quietly. It took them twenty five minutes of exchanging blow for blow to take the lead when the third of a series of in-swinging free-kicks from the right by Jack Holmes was firmly headed in by Aidan Chapman. Meads’ second came on the back of ten further minutes’ pressure: a ten yard swerving burst from the right by Ryan Bright took him past two defenders. He drew and beat the keeper but his shot came back off the far post for Craig Jones to slide the ball home and there was still time before the interval for Jones to be thwarted in a one on one in which the keeper appeared to impede him.
The second half saw the hosts having to throw caution to the wind and as a result Meads ability to harry came to the fore constantly forcing Owens to play square passes across their defence. However, they did gradually exert enough pressure to obtain telling possession on the edge of Meads’ area and with twenty minutes to go their centre forward worked an overlap on the right to close in on Gary Robinson and slot the ball past him.
Ten minutes later they were level as a twenty yard shot from the left found Meads’ far corner to take the game into extra time. This period was end to end and full of thrills and spills with at one time three Meads’ players lying flat in their penalty area having medical attention. It was also the tale of two penalties, one awarded to Owens in the first half. As the taker placed the ball the telepathic message to keeper Robinson was ‘trust your reflexes’ which he duly did to dive low to his right to parry a well struck shot and then as the taker advanced on the rebound he launched himself forward to stifle any follow-up.
The other was in the second half when Bright was clearly felled from behind but denied by the referee who claimed he had not been touched. Succour for the hosts was short lived as with minutes to go Jones reacted quickly in a melee to stab the ball over the line, confirmed by the referee’s astute assistant as over by a foot after the keeper had tried to scoop it out. Meads’ courageous custodian Garry Robinson was named MoM.
Squad: Robinson, Goode, McCombe, O’Sullivan, Holmes, Costello, Brennan, Chapman, Bright, C. Jones, Glover, Gowers, Quinn.