|Posted: 22 November 2016 at 9:55am | IP Logged
Some might describe this weekends 5-4 defeat to visitors IB Albion as a classic and others as a defensive horror show! It's fair to say that the 120 minutes of this LOB game had it all and unfortunately, we ended up losing a game that we should have ultimately won comfortably.
As our poor form continued for a fifth week in a row in Crouch End last week, Dave decided to shake up the starting line up and formation. Alex Youngman came in for his debut and did exceptionally well, providing some well needed energy and quality to the engine room. The midfield was packed to the rafters with a narrow four of Tom, Eoin, Sean and debutant Alex. Callum and Dan Porter were given license to rampage forward from the full back positions with Tom sitting in front of the back two of Matty O and Eoin C. Ren was given at opportunity in the number 10 role behind Jake. Liam, Steve English and Conor Gaffey made up a strong bench.
After Jake put us one up, slamming a right foot shot past the keeper following a sublime 60 yard pass out of the back from Matty O, they scored two in quick succession with the assistance of a poor offside decision (You could only describe their lad as being a country mile offside) and a powerful run and shot from their Romulu Lukaku look a like up top.
We equalised before half time as Sean McD scored his first, first team goal with a cool side foot finish from the edge of the box. After half time Tom Martin (who put in an outstanding performance, winning every tackle and header against a physical and big midfield) powered a header through to Jake who notched his second of the game. We should have then put the game to bed as Liam (now on for Porter) picked up a lose ball on the break and squared for Jake, who couldn't quite angle his finish into the corner and then in an attempt to make amends, our star marksman (who in all honesty had terrorised their back four all day), should have squared for English to tap home but instead went for glory only to once again be thwarted by the keeper. As was the case two weeks earlier against Wilsons, these crucial misses came back to haunt us as yet another long ball aimed at Romulu and their starting centre back/ makeshift centre forward who quite possibly was slightly taller than the legend that is Per Mertesacker, somehow found its way bouncing on the edge of our box with Michael hesitantly coming out to meet it and Culligan nervously chasing back after it....Culligan then decided to slice one of his shin, over the stranded keeper and the ball rolled agonisingly into our net. A couple of minutes later and into extra time we go.
An almost more comical mix up from the oppo saw Barton race onto a loose ball and calmly slot home for a 4-3 lead. They looked out on their feet and surely we had finally seen them off! Unfortunately not....two late corners saw almost identical deliveries into our six yard box and after heroically winning the majority of headers against a massive side all day, we succumbed twice and had to watch the oppo celebrate victory.
The manner of goals conceded masked what was actually a decent performance all round. Apart from the second goal, the defence marshalled a quick and strong centre forward well and the midfield dominated possession. Renaldo linked up play well and we created numerous chances. Tom Martin lead from the front with a performance full of grit, determination and desire to get us out of our rut and deservedly picked up the MOM. Alex on debut showed he wasn't out of his depth at first team level and Jakey's goals and performance up top should have been enough to see us win. Sean McD has shown that he's more accomplished in the middle of the park and put in his best performance of the season capped off with his well taken goal. If we can be more aggressive and decisive at the key moments and cut out mistakes, a win is round the corner. We go back to league action this weekend and if we keep putting the effort in surely we'll see a turn in fortunes.