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2008 – 2009

20 September 2008 – Meadonians II 1 Belgravians 2

Well done to everyone on Saturday for an excellent team performance and for coming away with 3 points from our match with Old Meadonians 2s.

Having dominated the first half with their keeper making an outstanding save at point blank from Owen, we went 1-0 up early in the second thanks to Hallio. Hallio then put us 2-0 up with a cute finish after a good interchange on the edge of their box.

Meads rallied and got a very flukish goal back after a Barthez moment from our keeper Tom who was otherwise very assured. JT, covering every blade of grass as ever, then latched on to a cut back from Hallio after good work from Patton on the right and scored at the second attempt. Meads were solid at best but you can only beat what’s put in front of you.

A big thanks to Nivea for sponsoring Paul Groves through 90 minutes of baking sun.

I think we are all now aware of our ability to compete at this level but this Saturday’s first league home game against Ignatians is a huge test. They beat Glynn 9-2 at the weekend, and are second in the table behind the Minch with OBs in third. A big big game.

27 September 2008 – Belgravians 5 Ignatians 3

Sitting on the veranda on of our new clubhouse having beaten Ignatians 5-3, enjoying the warm afternoon breeze, nibbling on a slice of pizza or garlic bread and sipping a cold (mainly non-alcoholic) beverage, an air of confident maturity swept across the assembled victorious OBs. A feeling that we’ve done our time and earned our stripes – we deserve to be where we are. And where we are is pretty good, with our impressive new gaff and hitherto unbeaten record in Senior 1. But then Lawrie walked off without paying the ref and we remembered that we’re still only human after all.

With a mix and match kit and a bare 12 players, the omens weren’t necessarily good. But OBs settled into the game the quickest and in the opening exchanges looked favourites to score, Edgar, Karim and Hall and Hanks causing the Ignatians back line all sorts of problems.

It was Karim who opened the OBs account with a mazy dribble from outside the area round several bemused defenders before catching the keeper wrong footed and slotting home from just inside the box. Ignatians then came into the game more as OBs took their collective foot off the gas.

That said, it was only thanks to a lucky looping header that on any other day Ramsden would have had covered that Ignatians went in all-square at half time as until then the OBs defensive line had held firm.

The OBs continued to look strong in the second half and as Ignatians played a high line it looked like only a matter of time before Hall and Hankin would crack the off-side trap. In the end it was pressure from set-pieces that caused the away side to buckle.

A series of corners and long throws in the second half yielded no fewer than three goals for the home side, first Leigh (did or didn’t he?) capitalising on defensive confusion in the 5 yard box, then Karim keeping his nerve to grab a rare headed goal and finally Thomas arriving in the box late to slot home another long Hall throw.

Ignatians kept themselves in the game with a goal of their own from a set-piece to level the score at 2-2, but by the time Hankin drove home a sweetly struck shot from the edge of the area to make the game 4-2 OBs were looking likely to ease to victory especially with substitute “Andy Wood” looking dangerous down the right.

Ignatians scored a third from a top-corner free kick after Geall apparently pushed an opponent, but it was no more than a consolation goal and the outcome of the game was never in doubt.

4 October 2008 – Belgravians 6 Hale End 3

Well done to those who turned out on saturday. We were 4-1 up at half time thanks to some Groves / Hall “Rory Delap” throw ins causing havoc in Hale’s defence, and some good passing and movement as well. Hanks scored first, drilling low close to the keeper’s body after he stole half a yard on their centre half. He scored again quickly from a Groves throw in. Some typically persistent hustling from Ed J resulted in him crossing to the far post where Hale’s centre half turned the ball into his own net for 3-0.

Hale came back and broke our offside trap for a one on one which they finished. Hanks then played in Hallio who finished coolly.

In the second half it was a completely different game, rather messy and Hale scored twice to bring it back to 4-3 as we made the fatal error of trying to play offside on a small pitch just inside our half. If you get it wrong, its literally seconds before the oppo bear down on goal. Hallio gave us much needed breathing space with a wonderful opportunist goal, stealing the ball 40 yards out, beating one man and then curling a 30 yarder into the top corner over their stranded keeper. Owen rounded off the job with a mazy dribble and shot from the edge of the box.

13 Otcober 2008 – Old Belgravians 4 Enfield Old Grammarians 0

Of course we didn’t actually lose four nil. In fact we won four nil. Despite texting, emailing and phoning the result in to the AFC, they still can’t get it right. If it lulls Xaverians into a false sense of security, all the better.

Twas another glorious sunny afternoon in the delightful leafy suburb of South London the Old Belgravians now call home, not a cloud in the sky and not a hint of Autumn in the warm October air…

It’s difficult not to be inspired to poetry when you turn off Turney Road to walk up the drive past those perfect green pitches on a sunny Saturday afternoon. You can almost hear Stuart Hall waxing lyrical in your head.

It would have been good had we managed to match the scenery with a bit more poetry of our own on the pitch, but it was one of those results we ground out more than anything. Grammarians were another team who got the ball down and played some nice football but never really threatened us very much. Yes, we should work on keeping the ball and maintaining possession better ourselves, but I’m sure Enfield would swap all the possession they had for the four goals and three points we got.

The first goal was a header by Hanks from a long throw by Groves, the second was from good work by Hall dispossessing a defender and cutting it back for Hanks to score his second, the third was another cut back from Hall to Hanks this time after Hall skinned a defender for pace down the left, and the third was a shot off the underside of the cross-bar from Karim after a neat passing move with Thomas.

All-in-all a great mix of goals, if you ignore the fact that Hanks scored most of them, but it shows that we have good variety to our play and can score from a number of different situations.

A big plus was to come away from the game with a clean sheet and credit to Geall, Groves, Harris, Higham, Ramsden and Samadi for that. Enfield’s failure was as much down to our solid defence as it was to their own lack of cutting edge.

18 October 2008 – Clapham Xaverians 2-2 Old Belgravians

Did you see a man in his fifties in the Norbury area of London at around 4.30 pm on Saturday afternoon? He was around 5″6 tall, wearing all black, and the police would like to speak to him in connection with his involvement in a daylight robbery. Two very valuable points were stolen from Old Belgravians and an afternoon’s hard work ruined.

Well, not completely ruined. With a number of regulars unavailable, we could have been forgiven for going to high flying Clapham Xaverians aiming for not much more than a point. But the fact that we came away feeling that “we was robbed” is testament to our strength in depth, versatility and spirit as a club.

Playing up hill in the first half we struggled at times to clear our lines and control the game as we would have liked. Perhaps we gave Clapham too much respect in the first half thanks to the drubbing we got from them in pre-season, and we went in 1-0 down at half time thanks to a taste of our own medicine – a goal from a long throw.

A change in emphasis in the second half unleashed the attacking potential of Oliver and Edgar down the flanks and pinned Clapham in to their own half. The breakthrough came shortly after the break with Thomas chipping and chasing down the left and squaring for Hall to score from close range.

We took the lead with 20 minutes left on the clock, this time Harris glancing a header past the keeper from a free kick. It was a deserved lead, and we looked likely to score again. Hall could have gone down for a penalty in the area but, “sportingly”, squared instead for Karim whose shot was blocked, Lewis hit the upright with a volley and Edgar blazed the rebound over the bar, and Leigh’s bullet header from a corner was scrambled off the line. The pressure was relentless and our dominance was absolute. But the third goal never came, and we were left to regret it.

A rare Clapham attack found their tricky forward on the edge of our penalty area. Samadi won the ball, the Clapham player went down and, using his x-ray vision eyes to see through a crowd of players, the referee imagined something that nobody else had seen and promptly gave a penalty.

2-2 final score. But such was our dominance in the second half it felt more like a defeat.

So many positives to take from this game, not least that we know we have the beating of every team in this division (if we didn’t know that already). A fair few lessons to be learned too. This is the third time in the past two seasons we have dropped points in the dying minutes of a big game through giving away a penalty. Needless to say, we need to be more careful with our challenges in and around the penalty area when games are tight and we need to be better at closing games out, sometimes by just keeping the ball in the corners. A two goal cushion always helps but failing that we need to be more savvy.

Don’t have nightmares…

20 December 2008 – Sinjun Grammarians 1 Belgravians 4

We put in an excellent performance on Saturday to turn over Sinjuns (who previously beat Clapham 5-0) and move up to second in AFC Senior One.

We went behind after 20 minutes when Sinjuns’ strike duo made the most of a simple long ball down the centre of our defence with our full backs pushed on, and their movement caught us off guard resulting in their nippy no 8 finishing a la Robbie Keane at the near post.

Our heads did not drop and we played much the better football, with patient build up play and with Minesy particularly effective in distributing the ball from in front of the back four and bringing full backs and wingers into play. For all our possession we lacked a bit of cutting edge in the first half but then Tim “Jazz Hands” Hall tumbled over in the area again only for our penalty nightmare to continue as Harris’ low drive to the keeper’s right was saved and turned away, meaning we have had four penalties saved this season. Next up to the spot is Harry Ramsden….

Harris made amends almost immediately by capitalising from a long throw from Tim Hall and heading past their keeper under pressure. Then Hallio struck the crossbar with a venomous shot on the turn from 12 yards. Sinjuns buckled, and five minutes later a beautifully weighted free-kick from deep to the far post by Harris was headed powerfully back across goal by Lawrie, and JT turned the ball in on the line.

Into the second half and Sinjuns hit the self destruct button. Ten minutes in and their keeper tried to dribble round Hallio leaving Hanks to slot away coolly – the finish a lot harder than it looked. We played more directly in the second half but sensibly so as Sinjuns started to chase the game at this point and commit men forward. Alby was fouled 10 metres outside their box and in a rare moment of enlightenment I took a quick free kick with Sinjuns defenders switching off, to play in Hallio, who was then one on one with their keeper and slotted in to make the game safe.

With 15 minutes to go Hallio was hacked down by their centre-half Peter Crouch look alike who had already been booked in the first half for a tackle on the same man and walked. A good day at the office.

4 April 2009 – Challoners 2 Belgravians 3

We started slightly nervously against Challoners on a very firm dusty pitch. On 15 minutes our first positive piece of approach play brought dividends, with Alby and TG playing two one-twos allowing Alby some space 15 yards out in the inside left channel, to squeeze the ball in at the near post after the ball deflected off first post and then keeper.

We began to assert ourselves with Greenwood winning everything in the air and occupying their centre halves. When you look at him, everything about Tege says he should be rubbish at football, but, occasionally, he’s brilliant.

Midway into the first half we lost JT to injury with a lively Kov coming on on the right flank and Owen moving to the centre to join Minesy, who was classy in his distribution throughout. With 35 gone Harris picked the ball up from about 30 yards out and in one of those moments were everyone else was thinking “for God’s sake don’t bl*ody shoot again” he did well to ignore all of us mere mortals and beat the Challoners’ keeper for power and accuracy.

There was still time for the odd Chuckle Brothers moment at the back – we’re here all season – with Harry recovering well after misjudging the bounce of the ball, and me using up my quota of overhead clearances for the season, but on the whole we defended well with Harris and Higham exceptional in the air and on the deck and Justin a real presence at full-back, freeing up Kov to test their full back on several occasions with some really positive runs and on one occasion a bracing shot that the keeper did well to fingertip against the outside of his right post.

Into the second half we gave ourselves some breathing space, with Mines floating over a free-kick from 25 metres out on the right hand side to the far post where Hallio headed back across the keeper to make it 3 zip.

Challoners then got one back from a corner where we defended very poorly, but a welcome return for Pagey in front of the adoring Page girls injected some pace up front to keep their back four quiet. Challoners’ second goal just before the final whistle flattered them somewhat.

18 April 2009 – Belgravians 2 Clapham 4

Despite a never say die attitude, we didn’t quite have enough against Clapham, who virtually saw off our chances of promotion with a 4-2 win that flattered them a little bit, but they were pacey and talented up front and ultimately their pace did for us.

Mathematically it’s still possible for us to go up but we will need to beat Minchendenians twice, rely on Clapham slipping up against Challoners and Minch, pray that Suttonians lose a few games, hope that a plague of locusts descends on the Challoners’ team bus and conjure up some voodoo magic to immobilise the Suttonians back four.

We started the game positively with TG having a couple of headed opportunities go close or get cleared off the line, from a couple of vicious free-kicks swung in by Harris, and at the other end Harry made an excellent save down at his near post to deny their centre forward who had stolen a yard of space 18 yards out.

Clapham took the lead when we lost our men trying to defend a corner and they headed in from 7 yards. 10 minutes later they went two nil up when Dan Lawrie opened his account for the season, unfortunately slicing a clearance over Harry after they had crossed low and hard from the left. We went into half-time 2-0 but still feeling very positive given the effects of the strong wind.

Early in the second half we got beaten for pace again down our right, their very useful striker beating two players before chipping over an advancing Harry to make it 3-0 with a sublime finish. Hanks came on straight away as we went to 4-3-3, and finished coolly after a good exchange of passes between Owen, JT and TG.

But we probably panicked a little too much in trying to play the ball forward too early to what soon became a 3-5-2, with Harris pushing into midfield. On the break Clapham scored again to give them some breathing space as their winger reacted first after the ball had come back off the woodwork whilst our defence stayed static. Hallio’s fine volley at the end was too little too late. Had we scored first, it might have been a very different story.

Too bad, but we have two games left and our matches againt Minchendenians are always intense. It would be nice to finish strongly and perhaps upset the status quo.

Even if we don’t go up it will be good to work ahead of next season and work hard to keep the ball better as a team.

2 May 2009 – Minchendenians 2 Belgravians 2

Well done to everyone who turned out on Saturday against our beloved friends the Minch.

As we were getting changed in the air raid shelter of a changing room before the game, we overheard their players being typically cocky in the next room saying how by scoring an aggregate of 13 goals against us in the next two games would leave them with an average goals for/against ration of 4-1 for the season.

That kind of bullsh8t was music to our ears. In truth Minch don’t like playing us – including the 2-2 draw on Saturday they have only beaten us by the odd goal in 19 over the last two seasons. And we set our stall out on Saturday by going to north east London, and, befitting of Tottenham teams of the past, parked our big red shiny Jacques Santini branded bus in front of our goal for 90 minutes and hit them on the counter.

We had a chance early on when Hallio was put through but slotted narrowly wide. Despite them enjoying a substantial amount of possession, we squeezed their space and again Hallio put through by Harris from deep on the inside right channel slotted calmly past their keeper to go 1-0 up. At the other end Harry was kept busy making a great close range save with Harris and Highamy throwing their bodies on the line for the cause. Hallio went down in their penalty area but got nothing from the ref or lino, a bit of karma perhaps, given he hits the deck like Bambi on ice most of the time.

In the second half, we soaked up further pressure, and the signs were ominous when their no.7 rattled the crossbar from 25 yards. Unfortunately as so often happens when we play the Minch there was a soft ref in charge and he seemed determined not to brandish a card despite several altercations between Minch and the usual OBs suspects. In the build up to their equaliser their striker who was offside in any case clearly backed into Harris and with our centre back on the deck he was one on one with Harry and did not miss.

Alby, Justin and Hallio were still effective on the break and Alby was put through by Hallio with a great chance which he narrowly blazed over. With 5 minutes to go the same two combined and Alby finished superbly, striking from left to right across the keeper. We thought we had it in the bag but a second dubious decision after another foul on Harry gave them a clear strike on goal, although we were unlucky not to clear off the line.

With Clapham getting the point they needed to secure promotion, we still have the opportunity to finish third ahead of Suttonians and Challoners but we must beat Minch this Saturday. Regardless of the possibility of promotion (the league is yet to confirm the constitution of the leagues for next season) it would be wonderful to stick one up the Minch this Saturday who are a miserable bunch of bl8eders.

9 May 2009 – Belgravians 3 Minchendenians 4

Unfortunately we went down 3-4 at home to a particularly grumpy Minch at Norbury.

Danny McConnell’s match report in the non-league paper (that man leads a truly blessed existence) …only tells half the story as he unfortunately missed out the fact that Minch’s third came about when Grovesys’ clearance ballooned off their striker into the top corner, which meant that Grovesy, who rather prematurely celebrated his opening goal with a 360 flip, had a hand in four goals during the game, with two in the positive column and two in the negative.

Minch had one of theirs sent off after 20 minutes for attempting to leave an imprint in Eade’s thigh, cue 70 minutes of moaning from their lot. We went 2-0 up after Grovesy scored a free header from JT’s cross and then Hallio did their centre back and keeper for pace and slotted in from a narrow angle. Sadly we conceded just before half-time as Groves’ outstretched leg inadvertently steered a low cross past TG in nets. Still, we had much the better of the first half even before they went a man down.

McConnell’s summary of Minch’s equaliser needs nothing added to it, although in defence of TG at least he offered to go in nets and produced several authoritative punched clearances from their Rory Delap throw-ins.  Minch showed their resilience if not their class by coming back against a 2-0 deficit and eventually their ability on the ball, despite being a man down, had the desired effect. At the end Matt Leigh went in nets allowing TG to go and frighten their back four as well the majority of our players with a combination of aerial prowess and diatribe but it wasn’t enough. Groves’ Kanu-esque flick to make it 3-3 was superb but they sneaked a late winner.

So a sad note to end the season on but we must take great pride in finishing fourth in a decent league after 4 back to back promotions. With more consistent availability we would have done better, but the fact that we’ve only taken 1 point off each of the top three this season probably tells its own story. In fairness we have not had the rub off refs’ decisions this season but over 20 games blah blah blah… Well done to all and in particular thanks to Ben, Neil and John.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.londonlawyersfc.org/match-reports/2008-2009/