Before a historic fixture played out at Buckingham Palace Monday between two other SAL teams, the mighty 3rd XI were heading to Wembley...or not. After plenty of to'ing and fro'ing between the two clubs midweek, the venue was finally agreed for this mammoth fixture. A place with a long Norsemen history and even longer grass. Church Street got the nod.
Norsemen entered the game full of confidence after notching four wins out of four, particularly after last weeks impressive victory over division one's West Wickham. Having said that, AP themselves had an unbeaten record to protect so a tough game was in store.
We welcomed back Amico, Williams, Pett and Lyte into the fold who made up the strong bench, and lined up as follows:
20 minutes or so passed with Norsemen arguably shading it, the best chance falling to White who put the ball wide from a difficult angle with the goal gaping. White's chance aside, an uneventful half picked up after a late challenge by Halpin 50 yards from goal led to an AP free kick. The ball was floated into the box causing little danger, Karsen called it but unfortunately got it wrong and the ball continued into the back of the net.
Norsemen responded well enough to the setback and pulled level shortly after. A great run down the right handside from Reddington caused all sorts of problems for the oppo and was brought down in the box. Penalty. Danny Green stepped up confidently and despatched said penalty and it was game on. 1-1.
This didn't last too long however as AP re-took the lead after a scrappy encounter in the box lead to an Ally Park player losing his marker and slotting home at the far post. 2-1 AP Half Time.
Second half started and Norsemen didn't turn up. Consistently overrun with their number 10 causing a lot of problems, as did the right midfielder brought on at half time. Williams visibly still angry with his derisory accumulator failings, resorted to having verbal warfare with the ref without getting a single minute of game time. Amico come on and got clattered instantly, standard, with Lyte and Pett both entering the fray and performing well. Despite the changes we were still struggling to create too many chances, we knew if we got chances we needed to take them. With clear cut opportunities at a premium it would take something special to score, and with 15 minutes or so left Lee latched onto a pass from 25 yards and curled in a sublime equaliser of the highest echelon to send Norsemen into a massively premature celebration. It was probably undeserved but after getting back into the game, the message was clear. Keep it tight, nothing silly, and we can go on and win it. Barely a minute later Clark had the ball at halfway, passed to Lee, who passed it to someone else and so on. Problem was we were passing backwards and not very well, this resulted with Karsen passing to Pett into a dangerous area. Pett cleared only as far as the pressuring oppo. Any one of three could have scored and they duly accepted the gift.
A cracking through ball from Hunt late on left Green with a one on one to add a twist to this monumental encounter but the keeper did well and kept out the captain.
A deserved defeat but after getting back into it only to be the masters of our own downfall made it hard to take. A league game at home next week is a must win if we have serious title aspirations.
Seeing as this was technically an away fixture, I am obliged to rate the showers, food and general hospitality.
Poor. Pleasant enough to look at but as cold as a calippo. Resident expert Amico was particularly disgruntled in the bar after.
We didn't get any but Wilkesy absolutely demolished a sausage baguette so if it's good enough for him, it's good enough for anyone. 10/10!
WALK TALL YOU BLUE LORDS!