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2009 – 2010

12 September 2009  – Old Suttonians 1 Belgravians 1

Season-openers don’t get much tougher than Suttonians away… until you add a very hot day and a big old pitch into the mix. Suttonians, like last year, are a strong, fit side and we can be proud to have come away with a point from this one.

Suttonians had the better of the first half. Their tactic of hoofing it up to their big centre forward worked well for them, though they had some neat passing spells too. Our defence was strong, quick, organised and impressively determined. We went in 1-0 down at half time due to a clever lob from the edge of the area that looped over Ramsden into the top corner. It could have been worse, especially as at one point the ball hit both posts and bounced back out again.

But after a good chat in the shade at half time we re-grouped and started the second half the better side. Eade almost scored with a sweet strike from the edge of the area, but a few of us celebrated too soon and the keeper managed somehow to get a hand to it.

Suttonians came into the game more as the second half progressed though we looked dangerous on the counter-attack. One such counter-attack led to the equaliser as Oliver’s ball down the right wing to Thomas was helped on by a defender into the path of Karim who nut-megged the keeper to score.

Suttonians piled on more pressure after our goal, bringing several good saves out of Ramsden. The pressure eventually told – Suttonians forced a penalty after several failed attempts by their striker to find a leg to fall over. Not to worry, Ramsden saved the penalty when he sensed their penalty-taker would go down the middle, Higham clearing the rebound.

Back at the other end we had the odd attack that could have led to us sneaking a winner. In a last desperate bid to force a win we brought on our new “head and shoulders two-in-one” summer signing, Paul Groves/Tom Storer. OBs management, in typically joined-up style, had managed to cross just enough wires to end up with the world’s most thoroughly confusing schizophrenic substitution. After a discussion with the referee verging on the philosophical, we eventually managed to persuade him that Tom Storer definitely is Tom Storer, and that he thinks therefore he is.

If truth be told we held on to earn a draw. Speaking to Suttonians after the match they think they’re going to win this division this year, but they think we will be their main rivals. We need to improve, but we should be encouraged by getting a point out of this game.

19 September 2009 – Wood Green 3 Belgravians 3 

Well done to all those who played in the 3-3 draw away at Wood Green. After dominating the early exchanges, we fell behind to an early strike from just outside thje box that Harry had no chance with, but we then equalised when JT headed in Patton’s pin-point corner at the near post.

In the second half, having survived a mazy run and shot against the post from their striker from kick-off, Owen then promptly put us 2-1 up, volleying in from close range after Hallio had got round the back on the left. Again, they came back and equalised but then Owen repeated his earlier finish for his second of the game. An opportunity for Owen’s third and our fourth of the game went begging when Owen blazed over from a tight angle when Hallio was better placed.

Then, agonisingly, we let them back in with 5 minutes to play after their striker got into space, rounded Harry and they scored from the ensuing cut-back, despite Harry’s last ditch attempt to get back in the way of things. Highamy had cleared twice off the line  previously as Wood Green threatened from dead ball situations. Neverthless, it was a decent performance on a very hot day against a narky bunch and, despite them having a very handy front three, we would have won it for better finishing / a fairly inspired performance by their keeper.  We probably just need to be a bit more savvy on closing out games. Yellow card count: Wood Green 5 Matharu 1.

3 October 2009 – Belgravians 4 Ignatians 1

You know it’s been a good day when you’ve put players of the calibre of Mines and Hall in nets, and you’ve still come out with a 4-1 win.

The first half was an even affair. Both teams used the size of the pitch and the immaculate surface well, playing the ball neatly on the deck. Geall, Karim, Kov and Lewis created clever triangles on the left, Patton and Morgan broke well down the right. OBs should have gone ahead twice midway through the first half as a header was cleared from behind the line by an Ignatians defender, but the referee saw differently. Then a Thomas goal was disallowed for what the referee described as a hand ball, though the ball hit Thomas squarely in the face. The difference between an arm and a face wasn’t the only anatomical confusion for the referee on Saturday, the difference between arse and elbow being the other obvious difficulty.

The neat passing of the first half was sacrificed in the second half as both teams adopted a more direct approach. Hall was set free from his goalkeeping shackles and attacked with pace and purpose. The opening goal came from one such break down the right, and Hall’s cutback was slammed home by Morgan for his first goal in an OBs shirt.

Back down the other end the referee gave a penalty for hand ball against Lawrie, whose arm was firmly down by his side and who had no chance of getting said arm out of the way of the ball. Not sure whether Mines or the divot in the penalty spot was closer to keeping the penalty out.

OBs attacked again and from a corner a goal bound shot was handled on the line by an Ignatians player. The referee gave a penalty to even the game up and sent the guy off. Karim scored the penalty low and wide to the keeper’s left. Despite being a man short Ignatians still attacked and caused problems, but they never looked like scoring in open play. Hall finished the game off with two trademark goals as Ignatians struggled to cope with the combined pace of Hall, Patton and Karim.

Rumour has it that Anil came on at one point in the second half but had to go off shortly afterwards when he pulled his hammy chasing a ball down a blind alley, but this has not been verified. It all happened very quickly.

So, 3 points at last. Getting a win under our belts was crucial, but now we need to put a run of victories together.

10 October 2009 – Sinjuns 0 Belgravians 1

An excellent performance away at promotion-rivals Sinjuns in the Wandsworth sun saw us register our second successive win in Senior One this season. We are now in third place although the top half of the league is toit like a toiger. The good news is that we have already played 3 of the top 6 teams away from home and we are beginning to keep and pass the ball a lot better.

The day began with some buffoonery and ended in elation. As we warmed up, JT got out his brand new spanking agility ladders – not all of your annual subs are wasted on trivial purchases like the still unused Bleep Test – and as if that was not embarrassing enough, proceeded to demonstrate how many different things you can do with an agility ladder whilst the opposition looked on in wonder. Clearly the demonstration was important as when we got into testing the new equipment out Lawro got his big hoofs caught up in one of the rungs, causing a minor backlog on ladder no.1 with at least 5 people traversing at the same time and desperately scrambling over one another. Cue the Benny Hill theme tune.

In truth everyone seemed refreshed by something new and purposeful to do in the warm-up, and the enthusiasm was matched by the support we got on the sidelines with Greenwood sporting his campest turquoise blue cardigan for the occasion. On the pitch, we were very good from the off, keeping the ball a lot better than in previous matches. Eade and Mines retained and distributed the ball well in the centre, playing nice triangles with Hankin as he dropped deep, and JT and Alby were constant threats. At the back Higham and Lawrie were solid and snuffed out the threat from their pacy centre-forward.

Eade fired off a cracker from just over from 25 yards early on after a positive, direct run. Alby went close to playing a one-two with JT on the edge of their box. We kept our discipline despite their skipper being a fine young man who benefited from a lenient ref. We got our own slice of luck on 35 mins when Minesy fouled their centre-midfielder in our half, Sinjuns hesitated, the ball was played forward and Alby finished with a composed flick over the advancing keeper. Harry then pulled off a superb save as their centre-forward attempted a fizzing, curling effort from the edge of the box which was destined for the top corner.  Elsewhere Sinjuns’ skipper accidentally sought retribution on Kov’s danglies after Minesy had put in one of his “Welcome to Chigwell” challenges on him.

With a number of players recovering from injury we tired a little in the second half and as a result found ourselves a little open and under the cosh at times. A superb intervention by Storer prevented their striker from having a clear strike on goal as he was about to pull the trigger. Immediately afterwards Hankin was disallowed a goal after a shot deflected off a Sinjuns’ defenders’ hand onto his moobies and into the net. A truly bizarre decision. JT then saw his header from Storer’s pinpoint cross tipped onto the bar. As time rolled on and without the benefit of a second goal, you had the sense that the missed opportunities and disallowed goal would come back to haunt us. But we held firm. In summary a well-deserved three points and one that should boost confidence immensely. Our season has now officially started.

24 October 2009 – Chertsey Salesians 3 Belgravians 2 (AET)

Disappointingly we went down 3-2 to Salesians in the London Old Boys Cup, much to the WAGS delight as yet another exciting cup run in the history of OBs comes to a premature end, freeing up a few more Saturday afternoon shopping trips with your beloved to purchase affordable modern art*.

In brief, we dominated the first half but ran out of gas against a youthful team whose 3-5-2 outran our 4-4-2 once we had expended all our energy. Alex M cunningly palmed the ball into the far corner after a great ball in from the left from Owen to give us a deserved lead. However, a decent second half fight-back from Salesians who exhibited a lot of composure on the ball and good movement off it did for us, and they equalised after we failed to clear the second ball from a very unjustified free-kick at the edge of our box. Owen’s rasping drive cannoned back off the crossbar but that was one of only a few good moments in the second half for us.

Into extra-time and again, we failed to clear after Salesians had won a free-kick 20 yards out. A break away goal then flattered them a bit and Harris got one back in the last minute of extra time from a penalty which, completely out of character, he got on target.

31 October 2009 – Belgravians 1 Sinjuns 3

Unfortunately we went down 3-1 at home to Sinjuns. Full match report to follow. Possibly.

Heads are down at the moment after three back to backs but we are still in the mix in Senior 1. Saturday’s game at home v Salvatorians is a 6 pointer and a chance for us to show some fight.

7 November 2009  – Belgravians 5 Salvatorians 0

Ed Jeremy’s blessing seems to have done the trick.

Sadly Groves’ impression of Rory Delap probably makes the rest of the non-league world think we are the amateur version of Stoke City. Which wouldn’t be entirely unfounded, because we played some excellent stuff on the deck as well, dominating the first half and enduring a difficult 20 minute spell at the start of the second before we ran away with it.

A top performance against the league leaders sees us up to 3rd, with Hanks taking the headlines, with a hat-trick reminiscent of Lineker v Poland in ’86. You could almost hear Jimmy Hill screaming with delight in the background off camera. JT scored an excellent Kanu-esque opener from a tight angle. The comparison between the former and the latter are not that far-fetched if you ask Hankin.

We must keep momentum going, with a tough away game against 5th placed Hale End this weekend.

28 November 2009 – Belgravians 2 Wood Green 7

We went down 7-2 to Wood Green on Saturday. Two cracking goals from Eade were the only bright thing to come out of the game for us.

Whilst Highamy is right that we should not dwell on things there are a few things to come out of Saturday. We should have a few concerns about our general mindset. The comments below apply to various team members not individuals but at least one of the comments will apply to everyone:

1. Timekeeping. Ok so we had an issue with half of the players sat in one changing room and the other half in another changing room. But lets use common sense guys. When we turn up with 40 mins before kick off we should have our game head on. Not slowly getting changed chatting away – that’s what post-match is for.

2. Responsibility. It would be really nice if people offered to do things to help in the build up – offer to go and pump the balls up, offer to fill the water bottles up, offer to put the cones down for the warm-up. People have got into a massive comfort zone that Tom, Anil and JT will do it all.

3. Please don’t turn up for football with a hangover. That’s what Sunday football is for. If you’re hungover you won’t be picked. We can all work individually on our fitness during the week.

4. Fitness. If you’re not fit enough, you won’t be picked. We let them run through us from defence, midfield and attack on Saturday.

5. Desire. There are no easy games in this league.

6. Keep the football. They taught us a lesson in how a two yard pass is better than a twenty yard pass. To keep the football we need to be fitter and trust in keeping onto the ball.

We better turn it on for Saturday guys. Centymca beat Wood Green 7-0 – that’s the way it is in this league.

5 December 2009 – Centymca 3 Belgravians 4

A gritty performance in Mottingham on a distinctly average pitch saw us claim an important 3 points as we held out against Centymca to win 4-3. Goals from Hall (2), Hanks and a superb 30 yard lob from JT. Match report to follow. Well done to all for a much more determined and committed display.

That result leaves us in third and we now have two potentially season back to back defining games against the team in 2nd place, UCL. The first is at theirs this weekend. We have had a tough pre-Xmas start to the fixture list and if we can give our all against UCL we can look positively into the New Year having played most of our rivals at least twice.

13 March 2010 – Belgravians 7 Centymca 0

We put in a very strong performance on Saturday to beat Centymca 7-0. They weren’t the friendliest bunch, but we kept our discipline in the face of plenty of abuse and punished their mistakes with some clinical finishing.

One of the most pleasing aspects of the match was the significant contributions from the four newest members of the squad. Sion Lewis scored 4 well taken goals (perhaps we should stick him up front instead as he looked like a true poacher!) and combined really well with Chris Phillips in the middle of the park. Chris also scored a cracker of a free kick from 25 yards. Alex Morgan caused their defence all manner of problems and deserved his 2 goals, 1 of which was from the spot. But perhaps the star performer was Tom Storer at right back who put in a monumental performance with last ditch tackles and pin point crossing. Perhaps it is time for some of the old boys to retire!

10 April 2010 – Belgravians 3 UCL 1 

We put on an awesome display to bully UCL off the park and win 3-1 on Saturday. After a decidedly dodgy start in which Accies shaved the post 10 seconds after our kick-off thanks largely to Minesy’s vision, we scored with our first effort on goal with Alex Morgan powering through on the left to poke a shot low to the keeper’s right. We dominated the first half, stopping them from getting you on that carousel of passing, by playing a pressing game in which we defended from the front superbly.

Early into the second half we were caught napping, giving away an unnecessary corner from which Accies scored bravely at the second attempt at the far post. But we continued to play positively and it reaped its reward as Alex scored his second off the match with a vituoso solo effort, receiving the ball 10 yards into their half, holding off two challenges and finishing with conviction from 12 yards despite being pole-axed in the penalty area in the process. At 2-1 up they hit the crossbar with a rasping 30 yard drive. But when our third goal came it was not against the run of play.  Good build up play and movement down the right with JT, Hallio and Alex exchanging passes allowed Alex space to cross from the byline and with Greenwood breathing down their necks like Hannibal Lecter their centre back put through his own net. 14 superb performances but special mention must go to Chris Phillips who put in some serious mileage in the centre of the park.

We have just 3 games left but we are now back in the hunt. This Saturday we are away at Ignatians who themselves beat Accies last week. We have no game on 24 April scheduled but this game is massive as Ignatians have so many games in hand. A positive result on Saturday will put the pressure back on the other sides. It is a must win.

17 April 2010 – Ignatians 1 Belgravians 3

We put in another monumental display in the stifling heat of North East London on Saturday, overcoming a horribly arid pitch and a determined and talented Ignatians side 3-1, with Hallio scoring a second half hat trick.

We continued where we left off against Accies, playing high up the pitch and preventing Ignatians from playing by applying pressure to the man on the ball. Having dominated the opening exchanges Ignaitans began to find some fleuncy in their passing but never really threatened. At their end Greenwood put a header narrowly over the bar from a Patton corner but clear cut chances were few and far between in the first 45.

Into the second half we got a lucky break when Ignatians’ centre back, who had won his fair share of ball in the air in the first half, elected to head back blindly to his other centre half, not realising that Hallio was bearing down one on one. Eluding his man and then cutting across him to invite the foul Hallio showed great strength and drew the keeper out. A poor touch gave the keeper half a chance but Hallio finished Torres-esque, clipping the ball over the advancing keeper from 6 yards.The second goal was all about brawn over beauty. Having taken a poor touch in the area when clean through from a cross from the left, Greenwood closed his eyes and buried his head in where it hurts, which sadly for the keeper happened to be his intestines. With no whistle coming from the ref the ball rebounded to Hallio who slotted home unopposed. We continued to dominate the exchanges but Ignatians pulled on back from a well worked corner routine where we failed to pick up the man on the edge of the box. Tension ensued especially when Groves conceded a dangerous but soft free-kick but with 6 minutes to go their keeper came up for a corner, the ball broke loose, and Hallio helped himself to his hat trick by shrugging off the attentions of their centre-half. Cue delirious celebrations.

We are still in the hunt for promotion. Suttonians are almost certain to get promoted. That leaves the other spot up for grabs and any of Accies, Salvatorians, us, Hale and Ignatians could still go up. The fixture list has been kind to us in that Accies and Salvatorians finish their games before our next game on 1 May. Hale and Ignatians each have a huge backlog of fixtures and must play seven or eight matches in the next 18 days, including against some of our promotion rivals – not easy. All we can do is focus on getting six points.

1 May 2010 – Challoners 1 Belgravians 4 

We fought back from conceding an early goal against Challoners to win in Amersham 4-1 on an awful pitch. Early on most of our threat came down the right flank with JT driving forward from full back and putting in a number of testing crosses. JT then hit the crossbar with a dipping volley from 25 yards after Challoners had failed to clear an OBs corner. With 35 minutes gone good link play between Hall, JT and Phillips allowed Phillips space to cross from the byeline on the right and Hanks scored at the near post with a powerful and controlled header, taking us 1-1 into the break.

Ten minutes into the second half and Greenwood, sensing that he was to be substituted imminently, calmly collected Hank’s’ cutback, took a first touch that defied his awkward gait, and slotted past the advancing keeper with style. At 2-1 up we had a panicky moment when Phillips tried to dribble out of the six yard box and I’ve never been so happy to see Highamy’s red boots as when they temporarily blinded the Challoners’ striker who had an open goal before him.

Alex Morgan scooped the third through the keeper’s legs whilst on his backside having been put through by Eade, and Eade then completed the rout by finishing the best move of the match. Mines played the overlapping Higham in on the right hand flank and his low ball into the box was dummied by Hallio allowing Eade space and time to place a first time shot low to the keeper’s right from 10 yards. Resisting the acclaim of his jubilant team mates, a dignified Eade refused to celebrate scoring against his old school team, generating much applause from Mr and Mrs Eade.  The four goal cushion allowed us to play Eade and Harris up top together in what was almost certainly the most follicly challenged strike partnership ever to line up for OBs.

Ignatians lost one of their double headers against Wood Green. We have now put ourselves in a position where things are in our own hands. We must beat Hale on Saturday to go up. Simples.

8 May 2010 – Hale End 0 Belgravians 4

As most of you already know, we finished off our remarkable late season surge up the table with a 4-0 win over Hale End and secured promotion to the Premier Division.

After the usual nervy first 35 seconds when we always let the oppo have a chance on goal straight from the kick off, we settled into the game slowly. You could definitely sense one or two butterflies, not least from me. After all, only a win would do. However, gradually we started to make inroads on what was a nice surface with plenty of space to exploit out wide. JT put in a couple of belting crosses which just eluded me, and Hally made some typically mazy runs to trouble their right back. The breakthrough finally came about 25 minutes in when Minesy (I think?) slid me in down the left. I decided to spurn the best option of squaring it across the goal for Hanks et al who were lining up to tap it in and instead scuffed a shot straight at the keeper, with the ball rebounding back off his legs, onto my right arm/chest and in – another aesthetically pleasing goal from Greenwood! The second came 10 minutes later. After a corner and some pinball in the box, the ball fell to Hally on the edge of the box, who cleverly went for the cannon of a defender’s backside and saw the ball loop over the keeper into the far corner. At the other end Harris and Lawrie, ably supported by Higham and Lewis more than had the measure of their little and large combination up front. At half time we looked very comfortable, but weren’t going to take anything for granted.

We came out firing once again in the second half as the space opened up for our forwards. 10 minutes in and we were 3-0 up when Hall decided to return the favour and ignore my exhortations to square the ball to me for a tap in and instead slid it through the keeper’s legs after a surging run down the left. There followed a period of controlled possession for Hale as they showed plenty of fight, but we continued to make chances on the counter attack. Eventually we wrested control back and dominated the last 20. The fourth goal came 10 minutes from time and was classic Greenwood. Through on goal, awful first touch off the knee, slow motion foot race with defender, keeper hesitates, Greenwood gets there first (although that is unusual) and toe pokes in through the keeper’s legs. Beautiful. Marc looked very solid in nets, despite not having to make too many saves thanks to another fine display across the back 4. And the midfield of Mines and Phillips was imperious as usual. Well done all.

When Anil and Tom first discussed setting up a London offshoot of Nottingham Law School FC back in 2002, they never could have imagined reaching the heady heights of the top flight in so short a period.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.londonlawyersfc.org/match-reports/2009-2010/