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2007 – 2008

17 November 2007 – Minchendenians 4 Belgravians 3

Having shown a great deal of character to come back three times against Minchendenians, we conceded a late penalty to lose 4-3. Minchendenians are a very very good side but we gave them a big fright despite being 2-0. The ref hardly helped our cause by giving them a very very dubious pen (against that persistent offender Page). Minchendenians are a very keen, eager and talented bunch (despite being typically mouthy) who move the ball around superbly, and are so keen they even video their matches and watch it in the bar immediately afterwards. If ever you wanted to have all illusions shattered about your ability to play football, then watching yourself being beaten by a better footballing side is probably about the best way to do it. For the record, video footage proved that the Page penalty offence was never a penalty.

Tim Hall put us back in the game, and JT headed in at the second attempt from Pagey’s cross to make it 2-2 at half-time. The second half was much more balanced, though we were quite direct, and after they had re-taken the lead Dan Lawrie popped up for his third goal in as many games, capitalising on their keeper spilling the ball. Then tragedy struck in the form of Ed Jeremy’s scything right leg, clearly overtired for having to stand so long at the “Good Food Exhibition” at Earls Court earlier that morning.

Nothing to be ashamed of, although most involved probably suffered a miserable weekend, not least Andy Wood who then saw Scotland dive out of Euro 2008 and ended up at work on Sunday evening. Minchendenians were adamant afterwards we were the best team they’d played and expect us to go up with them. Despite the melancholy of Saturday, I genuinely feel we can beat these guys in the return match.

24 November 2007 – Belgravians 3 Old Danes 1

Three points and a solid performance were essential against Old Danes on Saturday after our defeat to Minchendeeeeenians the previous week, and that’s what we got. Danes were never going to be a push over and they made us work hard for our victory, but that’s one of the things that sets us apart – when we have to, we can dig deep, find an extra gear and grind out a victory (and other assorted clichés).

The game started well as we settled quickly. The makeshift back four of Jeremy, King, Harris and Bache looked like they’d played together for years and, going forward, had it not been for some wayward shooting from the edge of the area, we could have been two or three up in the opening quarter of an hour. But with less than 20 minutes on the clock we made the break through we deserved as Hall slotted home following good work by Karim down the left (let’s not dwell on the fact that the shot came off his shin pad, they all count).

Despite the loss of Jeremy (hammy), and the limited movement of Bache (hammy) and Leigh, we kept the scoreline at 1-0 until half time. Danes had finished the first half stronger but we were confident that we were the better team. Hall looked as though he had a hatrick in him, and probably would have got one had Greenwood not predicted at halftime that he would score a hatrick.

We pressed well in the second half in search of the all important second goal, but it didn’t come. Then came the turning point – Matt Leigh was replaced by Tom Greenwood, and moments later Old Danes scored. the two events are largely unrelated, but nevertheless that’s what happened. It would be difficult to argue that Danes deserved to be level, and perhaps it was this sense of injustice as much as anything that kicked the OBs machine into life. There was a new urgency and drive to our play, more care in our execution and a more direct approach to goal. The pressure on Danes mounted and finally, from a pinpoint Harris free kick, Hall had an awkward volley at the back post to put us 2-1 up.

Danes, to be fair, were not the type of team to roll over and die and they continued to look dangerous on the break. Ramsden played a crucial part with an excellent save late on from a quickly taken free-kick, showing both alertness and superb shot-stopping while the OBs midfield took a leisurely approach to forming a wall. It wasn’t until Patton scored the third from fully 30 yards out with the Danes keeper off his line, that we had a bit of breathing space.

15 December 2007 – Paulines 3 Belgravians 3

We picked up a point in a 3-3 draw with Paulines on Saturday. They were a much better side the one we beat 4-0 earlier in the season and probably deserved to get something out of the game in the end.

We started brightly with Tim Hall as ever causing them all manner of problems. However, we failed to capitalise on one or two half chances and they gradually came into the game with some slick passing moves and their pace up front. Still, when Paulines were first to score mid way through the half, it was slightly against the run of play. We knew we were in a game. The equaliser came when Hallio latched onto a mix up between keeper and defender and slid the ball into an open net. 1-1.

We made a couple of substitutions at half time with Ed Jeremy and I coming on – yes, it was never going to add to the aesthetics of our football!!! But Ed’s hustle soon had an impact and created a couple of openings, one of which I flukily scuffed into the bottom left hand corner from the edge of the box. 2-1. We then scored again in quick time. After some good work down the left and a clever Alby run into the box, he dinked the ball past the keeper. There has been a steward’s inquiry – did the ball cross the line before the defender cleared it into his mate’s backside and back into the goal? The committee have decided to award the goal to Alby (partly because otherwise I would miss out on the assist!).

At 3-1, I suspect we felt the game might be in the bag. However, we struggled to keep the ball and their pace, combined with their commitment to the 50:50 challenges, continued to cause problems. They got a 2nd and then a 3rd with only 5 minutes to go. Gutting, but it kicked us back into life and we pushed for the winner. Despite a glorious chance for yours truly (let’s not mention the skipping and holding hands with Ed!), we were unable to find it.

Very disappointing, but it shows we can’t take anything for granted in this league. Every team can give us a good game on their day. You only need to look at Danes who are now above us in 2nd! Plenty of incentive to keep fit over the Xmas period and hit the ground running in the new year.

Finally, a great night had by all on Saturday. Didge’s pint downing was truly an inspiration to us all. 10 minutes was it?!?

5 January 2008 – Belgravians 4 Wood Green 5

After a roller coaster ride on Saturday, we managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory with a 5-4 reverse against Wood Green. Despite being 2-0, 3-1 and 4-2 up we lost the second half 3-0, conceding a last minute goal. Our goals came from Hall (2), Jeremy and Harris.

I don’t propose to dwell on the details. The defeat does put us in a difficult position in terms of promotion, but we are certainly not out of it. There were one or two positives to take out of the game. What I suggest is that we put it behind us, try to forget about the league table for the moment and just concentrate on taking three points on Saturday against Kings.

26 January 2008 – Mill Hill 0 Belgravians 2

We got back to winning ways on Saturday with a well deserved 2-0 win against Mill Hill Village. In truth we could have scored a few more, but Mill Hill were better than their 0 points in the league suggests.

We played some neat football at times, despite the pitch, and I was pleased with the energy levels as we fought harder for every ball than we have done in recent weeks. Goals came from Hanks and Owen.

We still have plenty of work to do if we are to get ourselves back in contention for promotion… starting with a big game on Saturday against Dorking, a team we know plenty about.

2 February 2008 – Dorking 0 Belgravians 5

A cracking win against Dorking at their place. We avenged our against the run of play defeat on the first day of the season by hammering them 5-0 with a hat-trick from Tege and a brace from Hanks. Good to see our strikers showing ruthless finishing.

Although we are still outsiders for promotion, other results went in our favour at the weekend – Vaughanians beat HAC 4-2 and Wood Green beat Danes 3-2. We are now second in the table although others have plenty of games in hand. Wood Green are creeping up ominously.

We must keep building our momentum – starting with a home game this weekend against Mill Hill. A couple of injuries were picked up at the weekend, and we have a few more out already, so we need to be strong in availability.

16 February 2008 – Belgravians 7 Vaughanians 2

We put in another fine performance on Saturday, beating Vaughanians 7-2, which now sets us up perfectly for our big game against HAC this weekend. They have just beaten Danes (also in the hunt for promotion) 9-3 so will clearly be very up for it. We need to raise our game again if we are to take the points.

We started slowly, conceding an early goal when they took a pot shot from 25 yards. We then started to play some neat stuff and got a deserved equaliser from a corner with a looping header from me. However, throughout the first half, we were slow to react when we lost the ball and didn’t always pick up the runners. They capitalised to put us 2-1 down. Again, though, we equalised quickly after Harris’s perfectly weighted ball in from the left was poked in by me again. We created more chances in the half but 2-2 was probably a fair reflexion as Harry also had to make some decent saves.

The second half was a different story altogether as we picked up the intensity, tracking runners, beating them to the 50:50s and generally outplaying them in all departments. The defence were fantastic throughout and that laid the platform for the rest of us going forward. Hanks scored the 3rd and 4th – one following a beautiful cross from Patton and my shot which the keeper only parried into his path, and the other a belter of a left foot shot from just outside the box. Then we went up another gear with Hall scoring 2 more, first by battering his way through and finishing coolly, then with a cheeky flick inside the six yard box. A Harris pen finished off the scoring when Hallio was brought down inside the box. In truth, we could have had quite a few more.

Great work all round. Same again this weekend.

23 February 2008 – Belgravians 3 HAC 0

We put in a cracking performance against HAC on Saturday and came away with the points. The final score was 3-0 and we dominated the game in pretty much every area. The first was a cracking individual effort from Ed Jeremy (yes, that’s right!), harrying their defender into conceding possession and curling one round the keeper into the top corner from the edge of the box. Tim Hall scored the second following one of his trademark destructive runs down the left hand side before sliding it across the keeper into the bottom corner. I finished off the third following an excellent passing move and beautifully weighted pass/hospital ball from Ben Patton which I poked in before getting clattered by the keeper. In truth we could have had more, but another clean sheet (and a slightly bored Harry in nets), shows how solid our defence is at the moment – which is perhaps even more pleasing than scoring lots of goals.

We have now won 4 on the bounce, scoring 17 and conceding just 2 goals. With 4 games left to play, we need to continue this run of form right to the end as we have some tough games in store which we must win to give ourselves a chance of promotion. We have no match this Saturday but please keep yourselves in shape for the run in.

8 March 2008 – Belgravians 7 Mill Hill 1

Although it was not our most polished performance of the season, we took three points against Mill Hill on Saturday and improved our already favourable goal difference with a 7-1 win. Hanks got 4, Harris 2 and JT bagged the other. We have now won 5 games on the bounce, scoring 24 and conceding only 3. Great form to take into some very big games in the next month.

If you are in any doubt as to how tight it is at the top, check out the table – http://www.amateurfootballcombination.com/Tables/TablesSenior1-2.htm. I think we can safely assume Minchendenians will finish top (although who knows…). That leaves one team to be promoted from us, Danes and HAC. We have both still to play, starting with Danes on Saturday. A must win game!

15 March 2008 – Old Danes 4 Belgravians 7

A very strange game on Saturday in the pouring rain in Ealing against a real bunch of pikies.

We went into half-time 3-1 down having taken an early lead through Hanks, the half-time score reflecting on Danes being more up for it and also  because they had  a man over in midfield. We spent half-time constructively with a few of us going “Right, well what the **** do we do now?” before Dan Lawrie intervened in his serene and understated manner and suggested going to an ambitious 3-5-2 to match them in the middle with Hallio and Patts on the flanks and Owen as the third man in midfield.

The result: a 7-4 win. Hanks buried 5  (or maybe 6) of them, scoring a crucial penalty to get us back to 3-2, then equalising with a header at the far post and then another at the near. JT’s long range effort / Hanks diversion put us 5-4 up, then Justin made a welcome return taking advantage of their need to push on and scoring a goal reminiscent of Thierry Henry for Arsenal v Inter Milan (a) in the Champions League a few years back. Danes got one back but Justin then broke clear again to cross from the left for Hanks to bury a Roy of the Rovers header at the far post.

An extremely important win which despite some shoddy defending at times showed our true spirit and grit. One of their players was sent off for strangling Jonny and another should have walked for hitting JT in the stomach twice. Well done to all but in particular Hanks who was ruthless in front of goal and got us back into the game simply because he took every chance that came his way.

We are 2 points clear of Danes at the top with a game in hand over them, but we have three very important games after this week’s easter break against HAC, Minchendenians (who lost their 100% record against Dorking) and Kings. We must keep winning games to ensure promotion.

12 April 2008 – HAC 0 Belgravians 1

Saturday was a proud day to be an OB.

We went to HAC in Mottingham and came away with a 1-0 victory, securing our promotion to Senior One, our fourth promotion in four seasons since our establishment, and ensuring that HAC have to win all their games and rely on Minchendenians losing most of their remaining games. Wood Green drew with Pauls, therefore we are clear of all others. Only us or Minch can win the title.

We dominated the first half, with a serious of corners from the right demonstrating our control of the game. Twenty minutes in, Harris floated a ball to the near post which Lawro flicked on. Hanks, approaching from deep, latched onto the ball around the pen spot and drilled low to the keeper’s right for his 19th goal of the season. Wheeling away in celebration to the Chapel Farm Road Stand, Hanks picked out his mother, father and girlfriend in the crowd. Cue frenetic bottle dancing celebrations.

Second half, we rode a bit of a storm but held firm. Harris was imperious at the back and made a crucial intervention as their striker bore down on goal from a flick on. Patton held onto the ball superbly as Hall (“We’ve got Tim Hallio – You’ve got F*ck-allio“) and Hanks caused them problems when we broke. A helping hand from the ref when he blew for off-side, when Highamy had flicked on their free-kick into the danger area, was fortunate, but Highamy then cleared off the line from a corner. At the final whistle, OBs arms were held aloft and HAC were absolutely gutted.

Congratulations to all for a very good day’s work and a great season. A final word to Harry / Rammy / Emre. He’s kept 10 clean sheets in 19 league matches this season and has given us extra assurance. We’ve put 4 goals past HAC in two matches, but we’ve also kept 2 clean sheets which says a lot for Harry and the boys at the back.

We still have one game v Minch at home (10 May) – please confirm availability asap to Tom. It would be good to end on a high and get revenge over the Minch.

10 May 2008 – Belgravians 4 Minchendenians 4

We came very close to breaking Minch’s unbeaten league record in a feisty encounter on Saturday. In the end, 4-4 was a reasonably pleasing result against by far the best side we have played in the league this season.

After two weeks of trying to cobble together 11 hardy souls, we managed to put out a pretty strong team, but with no subs as back up in the stifling heat. We started strongly and immediately threatened from set pieces – particularly the unbelievably long throws of Henry Muffett, which set up the first 2 of our goals. We went 1-0 up when the keeper came to collect one long throw, only for me to flick past him into the net. Hanks then scored a belter to put us 2-0 up. Again from a long throw, I flicked it to him and he rounded 2 defenders before stroking it into the top corner.

The rest of the first half was more of a rear guard action as they played some slick football. But we showed plenty of resilience at the back with good saves from Damo and plenty of blocks from the back four. They eventually pulled one back in the 12th min of injury time (or at least it felt like that!).

Minch started the 2nd half as they finished the 1st, putting us under considerable pressure, equalising and then going 3-2 ahead. At that point there was a feeling that we would struggle to get back in the game. However, the team were having none of that and we fought our nuts off to score 2 classically Linklaters-esque set piece goals – both Andy Terry headers, one from a Patton corner and one from another Muffet long throw.

Sadly we were unable to hang onto our lead as the ref gave them a fair pen in the last 10 mins. It has to be said that they were pretty ungracious for the whole game. Not the nicest bunch I have ever met. Bring on the rematch next season.

This performance reinforces the fact that we can turn anyone over on our day no matter how well prepared they are. It is difficult to pick out a man of the match, but particular thanks go to the new boys who all had great games – Terry’s well taken goals, Kov’s terrier-like defence, Henry’s enormous throw and strength on the ball, and Damo’s fine saves all played a big part.

Well done everyone on another cracking effort to end a fine season.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.londonlawyersfc.org/match-reports/2007-2008/