It was a lovely day for football and we arrived at their lovely plush clubhouse with over an hour to spare before kick-off. Sun shining, pitches looking lovely. Everything was looking sweet.
Then, in typical 3's fashion…..we were informed we were at the wrong pitch. And had a 20 minute hike to where we were supposed to be. Great!
By the time we walked it, got changed and got our there, it was 2:50pm. Not ideal preparation at all. The pitch was rough, and we didn't get a chance to spray some balls around and get used to it. They had managed to get a proper warm-up in and it definitely showed.
The rushed warm-up meant the Norsemen took a while to get started, and Old Paulines took advantage of this, dominating the first 10 minutes and testing Carson with a couple of long range shots. It was clear that if Norsemen didn't wake up and take a hold of the game, they were going to be punished. However, ironically it was through a mistake of our own that we went behind, under no pressure from the opposition at all. A harmless long range shot from effort was deflected and heading out for an Old Paulines corner. Keye played the ball back to Carson to prevent the corner and just before the keeper went to put his boot through it, it took a bad bobble, meaning his clearance went about 10 yards, straight to their striker to prod home with an easy finish. 1-0. Having only had his shift cancelled at work a couple of hours earlier allowing him to play, Carson was clearly gutted.
Norsemen didn't let the heads go down, and whilst Old Paulines continued to look the better side, gradually we started to get on top, win tackles and headers, retain the ball better and eventually forge some chances for ourselves. Half-time arrived at a bad point for us, we definitely had the momentum at that stage.
Half Time 0 - 1
The HT team talk centred around how we were in the ascendency and just had to keep it going, whilst not making any costly mistakes at the back. Our passing had been slack at times, and on this pitch especially, the passing had to be better, more crisp and not overly ambitious. Following the last few weeks, everyone was confident we could turn this game around. They had 2 subs and were starting to make changes, which affected their shape.
Norsemen came out the blocks at 100mph for the second half an equalised almost instantly. Bevers (who had turned up expecting to play in goal) capped a fine display at LB with some good work down the left freeing Clark, who drove down on past a couple of challenges before cutting inside and firing a shot off the post. Fortunately, it came straight back to our famous poacher Green, who kept his composure and finished neatly low into the bottom left corner. 1-1. GAME ON!
By this point, we really were beginning to dominate. Almost every header was won by a blue shirt, and we were getting our tackles in early, pressuring them and stopping them playing the football that had hurt us in the first 15 minutes. Almost midway through the 2nd half, the giant that is Paul Amico scored with another excellent header following a cross from XXXXXX and the Norsemen were in front. 25 minutes to go. Old Paulines began to press more for an equaliser, and this opened the game up. Both teams won corners and created chances, but it remained 2-1 and very tense going into the final 10 minutes.
Then, something truly magical happened. A real once-in-a-season moment. A gift from the footballing gods. Sit down. Take a deep breath. Brace yourself…..
Following a scrap in the midfield, the ball broke back towards the Norsemen defence. Keye rushed out to clear, and with a Paulines player closing rapidly closing him down, he decided "safety first" and kicked it full whack up the field. It looked like it was going out of play for a goal-kick. But then it began to dip and curl towards goal…..
Their keeper moved backwards trying to guage the flight. It came down off the top of the post, deflected off the keeper's fumbling hands and landed beautifully in the back of the net. Every Norsemen player went wild. No-one could quite believe it, especially Keye himself. He was a good 60-70 yards from goal when he struck it. Their keeper was gutted to concede such an embarrasing OG.
It's not the first time we've associated Bryan Keye with the word "unbelievable", but no-one would ever have imagined it would be in a goalscoring context! 3-1!
The last few minutes were seen out without any major scares and the final whistle was blown on another memorable Norsemen 3's away victory. A very enjoyable performance against a decent side. On we march. Striving to be the best.
Old Paulines 1-3 Norsemen
Shared showers. A little cramped and dirty, but no complaints otherwise.
Towel rail (not heated) is always a bonus.
Wow. Just wow. Huge beef burgers, tasty potato wedges and even lots of salad and coleslaw for the athletes. These things wouldn't be out of place in one of them fancy £10-a-pop West End burger joints. This will take some beating. Served with a smile and a cheeky bit of cleavage. Early favourite for Food Of The Season 2013/14.
Beer Jug Rating: N/A
Everyone drank their own drinks this week. I don't think jugs were available. Decent bar, standard prices, large projecter TV and outside balcony smoking area.