Picking up the paper on a Sunday morning will tell you a run of the mill 3-0 win for the top of the table CEV against struggling Oldsmiths, but anyone watching the game will know differently. We started in high spirits, confidently switching the ball from side to side and making full use of a large pitch on a hot day to tire out the opposition.
Lining up in our familiar 4-2-3-1, our attacking options were picking up dangerous spots, and with Tommy dragging their full back out wide Ryan Harrington, Dan Couldridge and Ali Manoli were constantly looking for balls slipped behind to create the first opening. After a couple of headers looped over from set pieces, it seemed a matter of time and the opener came through Ryan Harrington, put through by Dan Couldridge, and the result was never in doubt as the ball was calmly rolled in to the bottom corner. Soon after the second came through Dan. Again the ball was rolled behind their defence, and having missed the first couple of opportunities, this time there was no mistake, nestling inside of the far post.
Then the game changing moment as we went down to 10 men with over an hour left to play. Tareeq Mustapha came on to steady the ship, as we reverted to 2 banks of 4 to survive the Oldsmiths onslaught. Huge shifts from everybody, not only physically, but mentally to keep our shape for so long, meant that Oldsmiths were reduced to crosses from the wing and long balls in to our box, which Amit was clearing up confidently for the whole game. Then finally, the clincher, Dan Couldridge was put through as we broke following an Oldsmiths attack. He got his body in the way and everyone could see from a mile off that the defender was going to take him down. He duly delivered. Penalty vamps. Set piece specialist Ali Manoli stepped up, and the net billowed as the ball hit the side netting. 3-0, and game over. Oldsmiths kept up their attacking but with fresh legs coming off the bench the shape wasn’t breaking, with Ryan, Nelson, Tommy and Gio on the wings making it into a Tony Pulis style back 6 in times of need. As the final whistle blew we knew it was a huge result to keep our 100% record going in two difficult games, and we march on down to Kew for our next challenge to keep top spot.