Old Mead's suffer semi final set-back
Amateur Football Alliance Senior Cup - Old Owens 1 Old Meadonians 1
A.F.A. Senior Cup holders for the past two seasons Old Meadonians suffered their biggest setback of the season losing to steadfast Old Owens of the Southern Amateur League in a thrilling semi-final after a penalty shoot out at Beckenham on Saturday.
The pill was the more bitter to swallow as, on the day, Meads had to give best to a side who played the better football, were well drilled and had a healthy appetite for the fray. For once Meads’ usual escape from deadlock on such occasions, their pacy and muscular strikers, was cut off, as both Colin Hawkins and Albert Adomah were for the most part well held by a compact defence which gave them little room for manoeuvre.
Consequently, while Meads were giving away an average of five years per player, and this limited their share of chances from open play, they still would not come quietly. Their ploy of starting youthful Adomah up front alongside the experienced Hawkins and using Hawkins’ usual partner Ed Glover to support them from a wide right position never bore fruit.
It gave Glover, who likes to open his legs, additional defensive duties, deprived a natural and graceful predator of space in which to operate and left him a peripheral figure, who remained so even when he joined Hawkins in the van late in the second half.
Also, as a result of this undermanning, Meads’ powerful midfield was deprived of bite, were forced to fire fight for large parts of the game and consequently were unable to give full support to the front runners. Hawkins might have set an early tone when in the third minute he exploded a thirty yard volley which was brilliantly clawed to safety by Owens’ keeper and skipper John Sullivan. Apart from that Hawkins had a rather subdued game. The match hinged on the two back lines neither of which gave an inch.
For all the pressure on them, mainly from a constant stream of accurately delivered corners Meads’ Alastair McCombe, Brian Hanley and veteran Dave Butler dealt with the mainly airial warfare competently. In the first half, although keeper Kris Sayers had to foray to deal with threats, he only had to make one save of note, when in the twentieth minute his razor-sharp reflexes enabled him to turn over a fifteen yard shot which took a massive deflection. Meads’ main threat also came from set pieces and it was two minutes into the second half before towering midfielder Alex Hugh Jones, whose headed flicks on were a feature throughout, rose to give Meads the lead from Danny Bond’s deep freekick.
Meads held onto this lead until after sixty five minutes, when, following a corner, Steve Forwell drove in a loose ball to equalise from ten yards. Neither side could break the deadlock in extra time but the whole event was soured by an event in the second period of extra time.
Following a fifty fifty challenge on the edge of the area Meads’ keeper Kris Sayers lay poleaxed and prostrate on the ground while play carried on around him for fully twenty seconds with the referee seemingly oblivious of his plight. Play was only stopped when an Owens’ player sportingly kicked the ball into touch.
It took almost ten minutes to get Sayers on his feet and able to limp back to his goal. This psychology seemed to take its toll on Meads for, with Sayers unable to put his weight on his left leg the penalty shoot out was academic. Meads are still in two other cup finals and have an outside shout at the league but it will be a mammoth task to lift them from this low ebb.
March 15, 2006