One of those days today that leave you frustrated and dumbfounded with no-one to blame but yourselves. We weren’t at our best today but I think we were clearly the better side and I can honestly say that I never imagined we would lose this until the lino informed me we were in the third minute of added on time and 3-2 down!
I intend no disrespect to Charlemont (I’ll be interested in their account: I know it will be fair, Andy’s a top bloke and I sincerely wished him well). I am not suggesting they were lucky or giving their keeper man-of-the-match to underline our dominance. They were exactly as they were last season: a well-organised bunch of lads (a little younger and fitter than us) who worked for one another and kept themselves in the game (despite our dominance for long periods) long enough to win it. The pitch at Churchfields was bumpy and slippery which helped neither side but which perhaps put further emphasis on resolve!
I think there were two key moments that thwarted the positive energy we had going into the game. The first was a bizarre opening goal within five minutes which left our excellent keeper Lee with egg on his face. We’d got possession in midfield playing it around but when we worked it back to Chris Staien, he was closed down by two Charlemont players and forced back towards our goal. He looked for a simple back pass but in the meantime Lee had been distracted by a ball from another game and had chosen to recover it leaving him woefully out of position. Open goal. 1-0 down.
Mike was away this week so he was the one on the end of the phone. I told him of the disastrous start but also of our more than decent football and the confidence I had of getting back into it. We played some smart stuff with Nuni and Tom wide and South supporting Christy up top. Nuni forced a corner and then provided the cross for Matt Williams to crack it home. Tom chipped the keeper and shaved the post, Matt had a header just over and we were generally making progress. It looked as if a second goal would prove crucial and we managed it just before half when a really smart move let Tom in for a perfect dink over the keeper. That really should have been that.
Enter the second key moment. Within two or three minutes of us scoring, they were level: corner, flick header, in off the bar. Set pieces today were their only real danger (a fact reinforced later when they scored their winner in the same way). The second half we dominated and only heroic defending (the two centre backs were fearless in their willingness to put their bodies on the line) and wayward finishing stopped a rout. Brad caused them problems when he came on: Christie hit the post: Sammy almost forced one home from a ricochet: new boy Ian missed his kick at the vital moment: Olly pushed the pass button rather than shoot when in on goal. Finally Nuni got in and tried to make absolutely sure only for the keeper to make a fabulous save. Game over!
All the best to Andy and his lads!