Our penultimate game of the season saw us playing away to Alexandra Park in the league. Having lost 2 – 1 to them at home in a very closely fought contest, this was an opportunity for us to set the record straight.
Both team were understrength today, missing key players and most notably, both teams were missing their first string goalkeepers.
All the more amazing that it turned into a game where neither side seemed to particularly want to test the keepers.
Both sides started brightly, sharing much of the possession but it was Alexandra Park that seemed to carve out the better opportunities in the first half, albeit their strikers seemed to have misplaced their shooting boots as they shot high and wide on several occasions.
The back three were solid in the first half, with James filling in admirably at centre half and both Ben and Barsa seemed to deal well with everything thrown at them. Whilst Keiran, subbing for Matt in goal was not overly tested, his distribution out of goal was excellent and we built a number of attacks from his long clearances.
In mid-field we looked good for the most part, at least when in possession, but we tended to hold back too much when off the ball and that did give Alexandra park the opportunity to keep building attacks.
With neither side really looking to test the keeper, a 0 – 0 half-time score was inevitable.
In the second half, Buddy moved into goal and TJ picked up from where James left off, marshalling the back three and using his injection of pace when required.
The game followed much the same formula as the first although with Keiran up front and Sammy and James attacking down the wings, we did look more menacing in attack. All over the pitch we did still seem to be standing off the ball far too much, but we were stringing together some solid moves when in possession.
When Sammy got brought down on the left wing after turning inside a couple of Alexandra Park players, James stepped up and demonstrated that without a first string keeper, just getting a solid shot on target can make all the difference as he scored from the free-kick.
Having played with not a great amount of passion up to that point, the goal seemed to stir our boys into life and the thought of surrendering the 1 – 0 lead seemed to see them step up their game.
We did have a few hairy moment at 1 – 0 when Alexandra Park flashed a few balls across the face of our goal but the defence again seemed up to the task and Buddy demonstrated safe hands whenever called on.
Both Jake and Barsa picked up knocks but continued to battle on and we were unfortunate not to double our lead a few minutes from the end when Sammy laid a great ball across the face of the goal but just inches outside of James’ reach at the far post.
At the final whistle the score remained 1 – 0, giving us back-to-back wins as we prepare for our last game of the season.
Notable performances from both of the boys who filled in at centre-half today, James and TJ, as well as to Ben and Barsa who secured their second clean sheet of the week.
Captain’s armband was awarded to Buddy for stepping up to take on goalkeeping duties for the second half and for subsequently ensuring that he didn’t make the management team look foolish for doing so ;0)