Scribe: Sam Connor
After laying down an early statement with six goals in the season opener, the second game of offered a completely different challenge, with the longest away trip of the year, and a hard, bobbly pitch in South London. Following Wanda’s departure and with Tareeq Mustapha and Amit Gagliani unavailable, we made the journey with some big changes in personnel, most notably Charlie Fleetwood making an appearance in the sticks, and veteran centre back Rob Webber returning to steady the back line.
Despite the journey, it was the home team who started off nervously. Ryan Harrington closed their back four constantly to win the ball high up the pitch, and he put the ball just over with a dipping volley in the first 5 minutes.
Moments afterwards, a trademark jinking run from Ali Manoli, cutting in from the left wing, nearly put the vamps ahead again but was crowded out at the last minute. However, the goal was coming, and following a dangerous corner the ball dropped at the feet of Sam Lawrence at the back post, who calmly slotted the ball in the back post. 1-0.
The Warren regrouped, and the momentum swung as they constantly looked to put long balls over the Crouch End defence. They hit the bar direct from a swinging corner, and after a great one-on-one save, their striker could only put his finish straight down the middle where it was cleared off the line by Sam Connor.
With the start of the second half we looked to regain control, but it quickly became clear that if we were going to win this one, we were going to have to grind it out.
The Warren stuck to their tactic of balls over the top and peppering the box with long throws, but we had chances on the break with Gio Torre, Omar Karmali, Ryan Harrington and Tommy Pidgeon, who came on in the second half to provide a dangerous outlet down the right wing. The effort everyone put in showed as players started to take longer to pick themselves off the ground as the second half wore on, and it was Joe Ephgrave’s turn to clear one off the line following a looped effort that was heading in.
As the final whistle blew we all knew it was a massive result, with huge efforts from everyone to show that we can win even in these difficult circumstances. A big shout out to Charlie Fleetwood, who cleared up everything that was thrown at him (I won’t mention the Alisson flick 5 minutes from the end), and to Kyle Mason and Mario Hitra, who made the long journey to help out the squad. Winning is a habit, and we keep our 100% record to stay top of the league at this early stage.
TEAM: Charlie Fleetwood, Joe Ephgrave, Sam Connor, Adam Mitchell, Luke Fitzgerald, Sam Lawrence ⚽, Rob Webber, Ali Manoli, Gio Torre, Omar Karmali, Tommy Pidgeon, Ryan Harrington