Another away game in the AFA Middlesex cup but luckily not so far away this time against the only team to beat us in our preseason friendlies, Old Albanians. So to keep our hundred per cent record we had to turn that result round and take on our biggest task to date. We were to play on a 3g pitch which should suit us as we like to play the ball on the ground and we train on a similar surface. We started with most of the possession controlling the game but not really creating too many chances which led to being a bit impatient. For some reason this led to a lot of long range shooting which in all honesty did not really challenge there keeper. The season is still a work in progress and we will learn to continue being more patient and the chances will come especially against the better sides instead of hopeful shots too far out.
We had most of the territorial play which led to a few set play opportunities. Thankfully James Bex is back doubling the average height of the team to help us with free kicks and corners. But it was from the most unlikely source that we scored just before half time. Whilst there defence was worried about our tall player, Chris Morgan sneaked in with a run to the near post and glanced the ball home from a well executed Matt Roles corner. Yet another assist from Matt Roles.
The second half was quite even and we were unable to kill the game off which always leaves the game open for either side. Unfortunately it was old Albanians who drew the next blood with yet another soft goal. We gave an unnecessary free kick away which was overhit by the opposition only for us to head it back into play and into the path of an Old Albanian who smashed it past Jack Robery, leaving him no chance. Jack can count himself unlucky this season so far,as every week he pulls off saves that deserve more clean sheets but someone in the team lets the opposition have an easy goal most weeks. We will pay for this one day if we don’t tighten up on the silly goals!
With the scores level the game started to get a bit scrappy but the game was managed to full time. The opposition were looking jaded and we were still looking fresh thanks to the training that “most” of the boys do. So extra time was a formality as we ran them ragged. Unfortunately the opposition couldn’t make changes as they had all gone off injured so they had to play with the boys they had on the pitch and some of them were struggling. We could have scored a hatful missing many easy chances, but we only added two more from Chris Morgan & Gavin Suddell who assisted each other with their efforts.
It was good to see our centre half pairing back with James Bex & Max Harrowell back from their injuries. Alfie Lloyd and Alosie Onuhu filling the full back positions were very solid allowing very little to the opposition and starting many of our attacking plays. A very consistent performance all round, but the man of the match goes to Chris Morgan with his two goals and consistent play this week and previous weeks.
Fitness won the day without a doubt this week so I hope you have worked it out that you should all be at training and put it in when you are there. See you at 8.30 on Tuesday. NO EXCUSES
Garry Harrowell, First XI Manager
Carshalton 1 - 6 Norsemen
What a trek! Left Norsemen at 11.00am and got home after 7.00pm, but it was all worth it in the end. Our best football played so far in the first half scoring 4 goals which should have been more. No disrespect to our opposition, but we played high tempo one touch football that had them chasing shadows. I forgot I was the manager for a while and just enjoyed the spectacle! The first goal came early in the game from Gavin Suddell being put through by Matt Roles yet again for Gavin to go round the keeper and slot into an empty net. The second was the goal of the game again by Gavin Suddell assisted by Laurence Connolly who looked like he delayed the pass too long only for Gavin to take it wide and chip the keeper. This killed the opposition and we were now rampant having many chances before Gavin completed his hat trick after yet another through ball from Matt Roles. Matt Roles wasn’t finished yet this half as he grabbed a free kick opportunity from the right side of the pitch and smashed it inside the near post. The goalkeeper got a hand on it but the shot was to accurate and strong.
The time flew by, unlike the trip back to Norsemen. As usual it is very hard to reproduce the same standard of football in the second half when the game is already wrapped up. Despite all the clichés I could not get them to double the score. However we were not finished yet, The opposition were trying to stop the free flowing football with a few fouls and there which led to a penalty midway through the second half. Up steps Matt Roles who is desperately trying to catch Gavin in the top goal scoring table and slots the ball home. Not to be out done Chris Morgan grabbed the ball on the next free kick and curled the ball into the corner and the ball went in off the post leaving there hapless keeper no chance.
From here on it got a bit messy with everyone trying to get in on the action. Eight forwards and two defenders was never the recipe for a clean sheet. What happened to the discipline to get a clean sheet? Where was our CDM? What are the fines for messing up a clean sheet? I think a dart might be in order! What other way is there to learn? Carshalton got there conciliation goal and thought it was Christmas already.
Jokes and darts aside, it was our best display so far and was difficult to pick a man of the match because there was so many good displays. In the end it was between our Hat trick hero and Matt Roles who scored two and made two adding to his large tally of assists for the season. In the end having dropped Gavin off at the station and only Matt & Laurence in the car I was told by Matt that he was the man of the match, and because he had to sit in the car for over 2 hours driving through the centre of London I relented. Matt roles gets it this week or I would never hear the last of it!
Gary Harrowell, First XI Manager
Another great performance on the road from the boys possibly playing some of our best football we have produced so far this season.
However, stinker of the day does go to manager Gary for again using his awful car sat nav. Lucky for some, not Laurence or matt, it was on the way home and not to the match this time. After speaking about Christmas so fondly in his match report, it makes you wonder if he did do it on purpose as I know he had told me personally he was itching to see the Harrods Christmas lights. A big night out for Gal.
So in fact the only squad member to receive a dart this week is Gary, for again using his awful car sat nav, dropping matt and Laurence home closer to the 8 o'clock mark with them missing out on valuable beer time back at the club a good 1 and half hours after the rest of the team.
Jack Robery, Club Captain
We headed out on a glorious Saturday afternoon to the Hive to play our most competitive game of the season so far, away to NUFC Oilers. It turned out to be exactly that and seeing the team in the bar beforehand, we could see we were up against a big side.
The pitch was a long walk but once you get there, you are rewarded with a lovely big flat pitch with plenty of grass. We definitely wouldn’t be going into the changing rooms at half time. There were some chances from both sides and both keepers did their jobs to keep a stalemate.
The first half was very tight and competitive with the weather changing by the minute. It started off with a gale and turned into a thunderstorm with halestones. Even the Gods were against us! However we managed to get to the second half goalless against the wind, the storm and the biggest team we have come across so far (Not just tall).
The second half started the same way with everyone getting soaked, and then the game livened up with chances from both sides. The first was a one on one against our consistent club captain Jack Robery who duly obliged with a magnificent stop which we are starting to take for granted. We then made a change bringing on Marcus Fatogun who was starting his first game for the ones and was our only player that matched up to the size of their players. We weren’t to know but this seemed to change the game as they started to worry about our man mountain! Shortly after we scored a bizarre goal from a Chris Morgan free kick that was bundled into the roof of the net. How it got there through the mass of bodies is a mystery but we will take the good fortune. It was down to Jack Robery now to keep us in the game by pulling off a treble save that defied logic. They were gutted and their momentum withered slightly. Jacks saves added to the goal was a killer for them. They didn’t give up but they found that they had something else on their mind when the inspired substitution of Marcus Fatogun was sucking up there focus, allowing other players more space and time. Marcus went on to show he wasn’t just a physical option by going on a couple of jinking runs that had their defence in knots. It was one of these runs on the byline that he went on and then cut back to Chris Morgan to make it 2. NUFC can feel hard done by as this was the hardest game so far.
My man of the match this week was a toss up with a 3 sided coin. Marcus Fatogun by changing the opponents focus, Chris Morgan for his 2 goals or Jack Robery for his inspired goalkeeping. In the end it had to be Jack Robery for keeping us in the game on more than one occasion but also for not throwing one in this week.
With 5 players unavailable through injury the game was always going to be a challenging one. It didn’t get any better when Chris Morgan came off after a couple of minutes with a bad back and Archie Lloyd followed after turning his ankle in the first half. Luckily we had squad players to step up to add to the boys from last week who coped with the pressure of playing in an unbeaten team. However It did emphasise the importance of coming training and getting fitter, because as the game went on our normal organised set up was all over the place! In summary come training, (Fail to prepare, prepare to fail) and do some extra on your own if necessary. Well done to the boys that stepped up and didn’t look out of place.
Despite the injuries, we found ourselves ahead with a delightful chip over the Alexander Park defence by Laurence Connolly into a clever run from Gavin Suddell who slotted it past the keeper. We then broke a cardinal sin by allowing the opposition to pull one back within 5 minutes, concentrating after scoring is so important and the lesson must be learned. Going in at half time at one a piece was not a bad result having played against the wind and disrupted by 2 injuries, so everything to play for.
The second half was very quiet and flat for some reason, we seemed to have lost some self belief, which should not happen to a side that has won every game up to this one? To the rescue comes Jake Lawrence who was everywhere setting a captains example. He put in one of his driving runs and sent in a diagonal ball into the box that tempted Jardell Stirling who smashed a great header into the top corner. From then on it was backs to the wall, where we went through possibly the worst phase of play that I have seen from the team this year. We were disorganised and unable to keep possession of the ball, not stringing two passes together. Training essential to get back on track! It was no surprise that we conceded, giving away a sloppy goal, put away by an unmarked player at the back post in open play. The game was now open and a draw looked like the best bet. There was thankfully a twist in the tale when the game looked dead. Matt Roles took an exquisite corner and found an unmarked Tom Carl Fletcher who headed the winner. Sometimes you just get away with it.
My man of the match was difficult this week because the performance was a bit below par. The team was a little disrupted with changes to personnel and players playing out of position, but these are the games that feel so good when you win. Winning ugly is sometimes the best feeling! There were good performances from always consistent Alfie Lloyd, Matt Roles & Jake Lawrence. But I am giving the accolade to Gavin Suddell, who at times worked tireless on his own up front when our backs were against the wall and scoring the opening goal.