The game started at a fast pace, the power and experience of Finchleians’ midfield a direct contrast to the youthfulness of Shane, Michael and Ollie. Norsemen were trying to get the trio of youngsters on the ball as often as possible, and some of their one-touch football and clever movement was too much for the away side, creating space to try to bring the forwards into the game. It was obvious from the first minutes that Khaneil had the beating of the right back, and Darran was involved in a good old-fashioned battle with the big centre-back, who resorted to some pretty robust challenges to try to win the ball. These challenges led to a series of free-kicks in dangerous positions for the Blue Giants, and it was from the 3rd or 4th one of these that the home side took the lead. Shane’s first delivery was cleared back in his direction, and with the defence pushing up he floated a fantastic ball towards the back post – Ollie timed his run to perfection and directed his header back across the keeper and just inside the post. 1-0 Norsemen.
Old Finchleians rallied and nearly got a goal back straight away, with JJ forced into a very good save, and the centre forward reacting quickest to slide the ball into the back of the net from the angle – luckily for Norsemen the ball rolled through the outside of the side-netting and a goal kick was correctly given. This luck didn’t last long, as the right winger skinned Muzza and played a slide-rule pass for the centre forward to run onto, who, despite looking suspiciously off-side, finished smartly to level the scores.
5 minutes before half time and Norsemen found themselves a goal to the good again. For all the nice triangles being played in the middle of the park, it was proper route one football that brought the goal. A long kick upfield from JJ was dropping onto the centre backs head, who decided to duck underneath it and let it run to the keeper. However the ball didn’t carry, and Khaneil was onto it in a flash. At this point it seemed like the young winger took pity on the centre back and decided to scuff the ball back to the keeper, but the away side’s number 1 was obviously expecting a better connection, and in his surprise could only parry it back to Khaneil who this time finished well.
Half time 2-1 Norsemen.
Norsemen started the second half the brighter of the two sides, no doubt with the words of the gaffer in their ears, who had made it clear that the next goal was the all-important one. Despite starting well, Norsemen allowed the away side back into the game and after a couple of half chances they forced a second equaliser. A corner was not properly dealt with, and a shot came in that skipper Muzza could only partially clear, leaving the Finchleian midfielder the opportunity to fire in. 2-2 and you’d have forgiven Norsemen for thinking this wasn’t going to be their day. However 2 mins later they led for the 3rd time in the match. Ollie, Shane, Michael and Khaneil teamed up for the best bit of football played all day, the one touch move resulting in the latter being brought down in the area. No hesitation from the ref, and no argument from the opposition, penalty. Os stepped up and fired confidently home.
Then the gaffer made a few changes, Kamali and George coming on for Muzza and Ollie, with Ballers taking the arm band. The game came a bit stretched for the last twenty minutes, with both teams missing chances to score. Some great last ditch defending from Kamali and Meady kept the Norse in the lead, whilst at the other end a great strike from Jay flew inches over, whilst some over playing saw chances spurned.
When the referee blew the final whistle it was 3 points that were well earned by the home team – we know we won’t have many tougher games than that this season.
Some great performances all round the pitch, but special mention to the midfield 3 of Michael, Ollie and Shane, as well as the pace, power and trickery of Khaneil. All produced excellent performances, but for me Shane stood out as Man of the Match by a mile.
Next up Old Actonians at home, another tough game so support is welcomed.
Walk tall you Blue Giants!