After a battling win the previous week against Falmer Road’s finest in the AFA cup, this week the third eleven were due to revisit old rivalries with their old drinking foes and first division giants West Wickham in the Southern Amateur League Cup First Round. The two teams go back years, have traded footballing blows in the top flight and cup competitions and have given each other as good as they have got in the bar with numerous beer pong battles and darts extravaganza’s. A lot of things have changed since those days including player personnel and a third team relegation but the older spine still remained and were looking forward to renewing their old rivalry…………
BUT…first there was a small matter of Spurs versus Chelsea in the early kick off in the Premier League!
The third team had been handed a later kick off of 4pm and this enabled a fair number of the team to gather at the Broadway to sample the delights of the Coca Cola and Orange Squash whilst taking in the match. This was a little annoying on two fronts for Bevers who was already in a bad mood having sold his Chelsea ticket before finding out the three’s had a 4pm kick off and was then further put in a bad mood having to fork out £12 for a round of soft drinks!! Still his mood was lightened somewhat when Siggy put Spurs one up and more so when Bryan walked in wearing a roll neck that went up to the ceiling……….the only thing missing was a box of Black Magic and a helicopter! Spurs ended up conceding to a John “racist” Terry header and the points were shared where on the full time whistle the pub emptied at a rapid speed.
Special mention at this point goes out to Porky who was due to make the pub but due to and I quote him feeling “very derisory” he opted for his mates warehouse where I am informed a top night before had been had by all!
The meet time at the club was 3pm for a 4pm kick of as mentioned above and everyone appeared to get there on time, which is always a good sign. Confidence is high presently with the side winning all of their league and cup games to date and the morale of the team is the best I have personally seen it for a number of years…all that was needed now was some music in the changing rooms…step up Danny Green the third team skipper who had in the short trip from the Broadway to the club managed to raid Ministry of Sound and bag a couple of speakers slightly on the large side for the third team to enjoy pre and post match like the olden days.
After a little pre match jig and get together, it was time to get back to business and focus on the forthcoming battle with West Wickham. We were under no illusions that this would be a very tough game for the three’s as West Wickham had started the season well and were also undefeated and were joint top of Division 1. They are always there or thereabouts in the shake up for Division 1 but the three’s were ready for battle.
We had to wait about 10-15 minutes for the games on grocers to be completed that were being played before our match, however after watching an Old Finchleians twat storm off the pitch giving the referee a right mouthful in protest of being caught offside (very weird) we were ready to begin our warm up (well that’s what we call it anyway!).
West Wickham had arrived in good time and were also out early enough for a decent warm up. The usual conclusions were made about the opposition from watching this and the general consensus was that they looked like a useful outfit just as we would expect for a top Division 1 team. The referee completed his usual checks and then just after a ginger rat had turned up with three cans of Stella to watch, we were all set to begin!
Skipper Green had been forced into a few changes for this week’s battle with Joe Morris and Dan Howard not available and also Paul Amico who was in Costa Brava on holiday enjoying the fact that he simply had a door on his room whilst he was shagging his new girlfriend. Despite these absentees, more than capable replacements had returned from a week partying in Ibiza in the shape of Jamie Halpin and Ian Reddington and Richard Pett was also returning after having to attend a wedding last weekend.
The team for this big SAL cup match was as follows:
Subs: Pett & Darren Anderton (Scott Jenkins)
Norsemen began the game brilliantly. The West Wickham side were not the biggest however Norseman were not letting them settle on the ball into every tackle first and winning absolutely everything in the air. There were two very distinctly different styles trying to be played which involved Norsemen trying to play football at every opportunity compared to West Wickham’s who appeared to be playing a front 3 trying to stretch the Norsemen back four at every opportunity with long diagonal balls.
Norseman soon stamped there authority on proceedings and this resulted in a very early chance when a poor clearance came out to Bevers who chipped an inviting cross to the back post finding an unmarked Reddington who forced a fumbled save from their goalkeeper. The rebound fell to White who swivelled about 10 yards out only to see his shot superbly blocked by their centre half and the danger was cleared.
Norseman continued to play all of the football, however West Wickham when in the Norsemen final third looked dangerous without really threatening too much. The back four were extremely solid and the Wickham attacks were limited to shots from range.
It was only a matter of time before Norseman made their superiority count and on about 20 minutes hopeful clearance from the Norsemen back four was misjudged by the Wickham defence and Green like a gazelle through water (well something like that) found himself clean through. Green let the ball run across him and as the keeper came out to narrow the angle he cleverly flicked the ball with the outside of his right foot past the keeper to give Norsemen a very well deserved 1-0 lead.
It was a very well deserved goal, however we knew that we couldn’t take our eye off the ball and we had to continue to play the way we had begun. The midfield pairing were excellent in Bartup and Hunt winning all their tackles and second balls and we had excellent outlets down the flanks with Porky stretching them at every opportunity and Reddington making some rather surprisingly intelligent runs.
It was Reddington who then on about 35 minutes produced a fantastic piece of endeavour that led to the second goal. Another Norsemen attack was just on the cusp of breaking down when their centre half had intercepted in their penalty area, however Reddington came from nowhere to produce a fantastic sliding tackle – one of those tackles where you come away with the ball cleanly, however this was in the Wickham penalty area on the right hand side of the box about 12 yards out. Reddington was able to get up quickest and not surprisingly (on current form) he hit a left footed shot, which buried itself in the bottom corner to give Norsemen a 2-0 lead! It was a great goal and as mentioned above a great bit of endeavour from Reddington which reaped maximum reward.
The remainder of the second half petered out without further incident apart from a rather blatant Wickham penalty that wasn’t given and Norsemen went in at half time with a very healthy and deserved lead.
The half time team talk was very objective and as the back four discussed how to deal with the Wickham front three attempting to stretch the back four and also how to deal with their number 10 who was dropping deep, it was then interrupted with the sight of all sights…Scott Jenkins…a.k.a Darren Anderton in a Norsemen shirt!! Now this is an extremely rare occurrence nowadays almost as rare as Scott managing to go out and getting hit by a random girl…or maybe not! Due to the 4pm kick off Scott was able to get permission from his domineering FEMALE boss to help the three’s out and be a substitute for the second half…a little cameo beckoned!
Before that Norsemen had a lot of hard work to complete. We knew that West Wickham would come extremely hard at us in the second half and this is exactly what happened. Their goalkeeper reminded us of this by shouting out that we were a load of shit before we started the second half which was a little contradictory considering his first half performance where he couldn’t catch a cold…as Porky said afterwards…a bit of a c--t! Wickham made about 3 changes at half time and had a younger and quicker front three for the Norsemen back four to deal with, and for the majority of the first 20-25 minutes this was coped with extremely well by the back four of Halpin, Beveridge, Nick and Keye.
It was a slight reversal of the first half with Wickham pushing more and more and Norsemen relying on the pace they had on the flanks to counter attach with Porky and Reddington. On numerous occasions Norsemen had a chance to counter and kill the game off however a wrong decision or a poor final ball proved the downfall for Norsemen in their quest for the killer third goal.
With about 20 minutes left Green made a couple of changes with Pett coming on for Keye at the back and Darren Anderton replacing Reddington. Pett slipped nicely into the back two and won a number of very key headers for the three’s. Coming into a match when the opposition are piling on the pressure especially in at centre half position is very tricky and Pett managed this superbly. Anderton on the other hand managed to limp away from his first challenge………only kidding although he did actually limp away from that…he was excellent also providing the three’s with some much needed added steel in the midfield areas.
With about 15 minutes remaining Wickham won a free kick just inside their own half which their centre half launched towards the Norsemen penalty area. A Norsemen head won the header but unfortunately it went straight to their number 10 who chested it down and then hit a low shot before any Norsemen defender could get to him which beat Karson and nestled in the bottom corner of the net. With 15 minutes left West Wickham smelt blood and this resulted in the kitchen sink being thrown at the Norsemen back four.
I have to say that the back four were excellent all day, but no more so than the final 10 minutes when they repelled attack after attack. Special mention goes to the Norseman goalkeeper Karson who with about 10 minutes to go produced a wonderful tip round the post to deny the number 10 a second goal with a 25 yard drive that was destined for the bottom corner. Carson had had a tricky couple of weeks, however this was by far his best game this week and his kicking was superb.
Norseman thought the game was done going into injury time but one last push from Wickham who at this point had 5 up front produced by far their best chance of an equaliser when a hopeful ball across the box fell to their number 10 again about six yards out with the goal gaping, however a side foot finish only resulted thankfully in his firing straight at Karson who gratefully gathered it up.
A further minute passed without any further scares and the referee blew the final whistle to the relief of the Norseman boys. A fantastic result and probably the best performance of the season and a Division 1 scalp to add to the 100% start to the season for the third team. A very hard working performance and it’s a delight to play in a team, which has everyone fighting for each other.
It was at this point that Bevers then found that for the entire 90 minutes he had been playing with a peg that had been attached to the inside of his shorts for the entire match! A lucky peg? We will never know as it was launched at Porky in the changing rooms and will probably never be seen again!
Loud music, a little sing along and a happy shower was then enjoyed by all as the result sunk in which continued in the bar for a couple of hours after the match before most of the team began to slope off. This left Green, Keye and Jenkins to look forward to a night of pulling a granny at Tesco’s country club at the very popular Eros reunion and before that the witnessing of a pool cue being wrapped round the Norsemen reserves captain’s head…perhaps that’s a story for another day!
The draw for the next round filtered through during the night in the bar and we have been handed an away draw to Alexandra Park in the second round. Before that we have an away league match next week against the same opposition that we must focus on to continue our 100% winning record. Two league games in a row now before we resume cup duties and therefore it is very important that we don’t take our eye off the bread and butter and the main objective of regaining Division 1 status!
For now WALK TALL YOU BLUE GIANTS!!!
Karson 9, Halpin 8, Keye 8, Nick 8, Beveridge 8, Clark 7, Bartup 7, Hunt 8, Reddington 8, Green 8, White 7.
Subs: Pett 7, Anderton 7