Alexandra Park 10th 7 – 2 Bank of England 5th
Goals: James Chin and Andrew Hunnable.
After a run of 3 weekends without a fixture, and with only a bare 11 available (including two goalkeepers) for the long trip to north London, this was always going to be a tough fixture. Ally Park were sitting 4th in the league with games in hand on the teams above them, and had beaten us 4-0 at home earlier in the season. And, to cap it all off, the pitch was one of the worst I have ever played on, with a steep incline and a lumpy surface that was not conducive to the sort of slick passing game that we strive to play.
The game got off to an inauspicious start, with us conceding a couple of early goals despite having the slope, sun and wind in our favour. A moment of controversy followed when Alex Buxton was shown a straight red for throwing himself in the way of a shot in the area, the ball bouncing off his leg and onto his arm. After much despair from our side and some sympathy from the opposition, the referee mercifully overturned his decision and gave a yellow instead. Alas, Ally converted the penalty and the game looked out of sight. James Chin pulled one back from a flowing attacking move, following up on Pat Daly’s blocked effort to slot the ball away.
The second half was a rather torrid affair. With the strong wind against us, and playing uphill, we struggled to get the ball out of our own half. Ally were effectively playing with 4 up front, and lumped long ball after long ball for their pacey strikers to run on to. We conceded some more, but then the oppo started to grow complacent. We were unlucky not to score a few more on the break, but Andrew Hunnable got a late consolation with an effort from distance after a poor clearance from their goalkeeper. Dave Joshi pulled off a string of fine saves throughout the game to keep the score line in single figures, but this was a game best forgotten.
Bank of England 5th 7 – 2 Merton 6th
Goals: Andrew Hunnable (2), Wes Bishop, Pat Daly, James Chin, Tomas da Silva, and David Latto (!!!)
After a bad result the previous week, this was a huge opportunity to bounce back and make a renewed push for 5th place in the league. Nothing less than a win would do. Merton have struggled to get a team out at times this season, and given their volatile results it wasn’t clear what sort of side we would be playing against. And without any available keepers, we knew we would have to keep it tight in front of goal.
This was a performance to be proud of. The team got off to a great start, with Andrew Hunnable stepping up from his position at centre back to score from a free-kick from the edge of the box, before Tomas da Silva was hauled down to win a penalty following a great bit of attacking play down the left hand side. Wes Bishop stepped up to put us 2 ahead. Goals from Pat Daly, James Chin and another from Hunnable meant we went in 5-0 up at half time, with us well in control of the game and nullifying any attacking threat from Merton.
Merton came at us quickly in the second half, nicking an early goal with the ball setting up nicely for their striker to volley in. But we continued to keep possession and dominate proceedings. Tomas da Silva reacted quickest to the oppo keeper spilling a long ball to restore our margin. We broke again down the right hand side, building the attack from the back four, before Chris Ford passed the ball to me. With the keeper still to beat, I cut back inside onto my right foot before sublimely curling the ball into the bottom right corner. Some would call it Henry-esque. And that was my first ever goal for the Bank of England AFC, a proud moment indeed. Still celebrating/in shock at my goal, we switched off and conceded a final consolation goal in the dying minutes of the game. But nevertheless, this was a truly professional performance and an excellent return to winning ways after the defeat the week before. Special mentions go to Andrew Hunnable for scoring two goals from centre back, and to Pete Sharland and Damo Daniel for stepping up to don the keeper’s shirt for 45 minutes each.
Old Blues 4th 0 – 4 Bank of England 5th
Goals: Tomas da Silva, Tom Hill, David Latto (again!!!) and Jordan Gyandoh
Going into the final three fixtures of the season, we needed to get 3 points to overtake the Civil Service and move up to 5th place. A win away at Old Blues would also pretty much prevent them being able to overtake us. So this was a vital victory and followed up our 3-1 win against Old Blues at home earlier in the season.
We were blessed with a squad full of attacking intent for this game, but alas (and once again) no recognised goalkeeper. Pete Sharland stepped up once more to don the fluorescent orange Number 13 top, and what a blessing that was. We had the upper hand in the early skirmishes of the game, camping in the opposition half for most of the first 10 minutes, but despite our best efforts we looked more likely to hit a horse in the neighbouring field than the back of the net early on. Then Tomas da Silva popped up to calmly slot the ball under the keeper and put us 1-0 ahead. Undeterred, Old Blues started to settle into the game, and started to create some chances. Sharland, however, was not going to be beaten so easily, and tipped a fierce effort onto the crossbar to keep us in the lead going into half time.
The start of the second half was a tense period. Old Blues were throwing everything they had at us to try to get a goal back. But they were vulnerable on the break, and Tom Hill (a late addition to the squad after one player neglected to read their e-mails properly and showed up for the 4’s home game instead of the 5’s – I shall spare their blushes and keep them anonymous) finished a quick counter attack to put us 2-0 ahead. Still, the oppo pushed for a way back into the game, and their chance came following a controversial decision to award a penalty for what looked to be a clean tackle and a dive (at least from where I was standing). But man of the moment Pete Sharland once again thwarted their efforts to score, saving superbly down to his right hand side. It was to take a third goal for the opposition heads to drop and the game to be all but over, and what a goal it was. Pushing down the left hand side, we won a throw-in. The ball was not cleared properly by their defender and bounced up, crying out for someone to try an audacious half volley from outside the box. I duly obliged, steering the ball into the top right corner of the net with the outside of my right foot. Teammates and opponents were united in their bewilderment (read: disbelief) at such a fine effort, and it took the wind out of Old Blues’ sails. We created a number of chances after that, with Sam Richards in particular being guilty of a lack of composure in front of goal (never thought I’d say that in my lifetime!!), before Jordan Gyandoh finished off a fine attack and put us in an unassailable 4-0 lead. And after that thrilling result, we moved up above Civil Service with two games left to play. Bring on Wilsonian’s 8’s