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2012 – 2013

18 May 2013 – Belgravians 5 Hale End 2

Drama at the Griffin ground in Dulwich on the final day of the 2012/2013 Season. 3 teams including Belgravians were fighting desperately to avoid relegation from Senior One and we needed to beat fellow strugglers Hale End by a certain number of goals (we’ll come back to that minor detail later). The drama unfolded thus:

1 hour before kick-off: Thomas arrives with the kit bag. A 100% improvement on his performance in this skillset from the previous weekend.

30 minutes before kick-off: Various ringers and Hanks introduce themselves to the rest of the regulars in the dressing room.

2 minutes before kick-off – Team news: Marlon and Alex start-up front together. JT mumbles something about having a Bentley and a Ferrari together up front. Silence reigns. New players are desperately introducing themselves to one another, let alone trying to figure out tenuous jokes about other players whose surnames sound like luxury range automobiles.

0-30 minutes: Belgravians dominate a stunned Hale End. Bentley is the first out of the blocks, scoring the second quickest hat-trick in OBs history, the first a deft volley from a Marcus Hinton free-kick, the second a point blank volley and the third a thumping header.

31st minute: The watching Mines family are confirmed as Supporters of the Season for the second year running.

35th minute: Morgan arrows a 15 yard right footer into the far corner for 4-0.

44th minute: Hale steal one back against the run of play.

Half-time: Management and captain Mines discuss whether or not it will panic the team to remind them of how many goals they need to win by to stay up and agree against doing so. No numbers are mentioned. This nearly turns out to be fatal.

50th minute: Hale claw back one more with a header. Mike Mines tears up his season ticket and throws it at Management. It’s now 4-2.

65th minute: The Guy From Behind The Bar has an immediate impact off the substitutes bench, launching a 30 yard throw-in to the far post where Hallio arrives to bundle the ball over the line off his shoulder. 5-2 Belgravians.

80th minute: Mines makes an extraordinary last ditch tackle on the line.

85th minute: Management enraged with right-back Thomas for continuing to attack. The Belgravians dug-out now trying to relay desperate messages onto the pitch to hold onto the ball and work it towards the corner flags. Thomas and Morgan continue to attack at will leaving huge gaps at the back.

87th minute: A penny coin drops out of the sky and hits Management square between the eyes, with the shuddering realisation that there may have been an internal miscalculation about how many goals are needed to stay up. In fact one more goal is needed. Panic in the technical area. Panic swiftly relayed to skipper Mines. The response of “it’s a bit f*cking late now” a little shocking but technically spot on. Management starts to wave Thomas forward from full-back.

90th minute: Hanks nearly scores at the death.

90 +5: Final whistle blows. Belgravians, Hale and Thorntonians are tied on 23 points each and goal difference of plus 6 each. Belgravians second bottom on goals scored. A cursory glance at the league rules confirms this.

20 May 2013: League finally gives the greatest indication yet Belgravians won’t be relegated. Drama over. Probably. Match summary cleared for release.

4 May 2013 – Belgravians 1 Enfield 1

In true Belgravians style we got an important draw against champions Enfield despite a number of unforeseen circumstances doing their best to hamper us, not least losing our keeper at 11am on Friday evening; one player being in a car accident in Wandsworth an hour before kick-off and then going AWOL and JT leaving the kit at home in Ealing and only realising when he got to the ground. At £130 for pitch hire, £150 odd quid for additional kit purchased at Intersport with half an hour to go and £60 for post-match horse burgers this was possibly the most expensive game in the club’s history.

Hallio and Minesy kindly did a half each in nets and performed heroics and despite having only 10 players for the first 35 minutes we were happy enough to go in at half-time just 1-0 down and still in the game. Having finally persuaded the guy behind the bar (this doesn’t read like a great advert for the club for our new players) to sling some kit on and even up numbers on the pitch, we largely dominated the second half and created a number of opportunities with close ranger headers from Steve and Hallio that should have been taken. Finally the guy behind the bar took a throw in of Rory Delap proportions and Hallio stole in at the far post to score off his shoulder. Thanks to Tristan, virtually now an OBs veteran, Mike and Cole for helping us out.

27 April 2013 – HAC II 0 Belgravians 2
We put in one of our best performances of the season to beat HAC 2-0. HAC hadn’t been beaten in the league since we beat them at the end of January.

Thanks to our last minute replacement goalkeeper from Bakers, we gained the psychological upper hand over the opposition even before kick-off, with him having wandered into the wrong dressing room and put on the HAC reserve goalkeeper kit and played in it for the full 90 minutes, before wandering back into the HAC dressing room after the game to change.

Great performances all round, especially from Justin and Scott who both caused problems for HAC for the whole game.

We got off to great start with a beautiful goal from Marlon after around 20 minutes, deftly lofting a half volley over the keeper from an angle. We could have scored again in the first half – Tim and Scott got themselves into great positions but couldn’t quite convert. HAC made some the odd visit into our half, but got no change out of our back four, which was well organised by Gav and Luke J. Justin and Tom S made some great overlapping runs down the flanks – Dave and I were more than happy to sit in and cover for them.

In the second half we pretty much camped in HAC’s half and created a hatful of chances. Alex should have scored but shot over the bar from close range, Luke J should also have scored but his shot was cleared off the line by yours truly (sincere apologies again Luke), and Marlon had a couple of one-on-ones saved by their keeper. Nick and Dave both created space and chances and pulled the strings in midfield. Scott eventually made the game safe with a great low drive from the edge of the area with 15 minutes to go.

The best thing about Saturday was how we dominated possession by working neat triangles and one-twos, even in defence. It was a big pitch but everyone used the space well, taking extra touches and looking for an easy pass rather than panicking.

First ever OBs goals for Marlon making a welcome return to the team in the false no.9 position and Scotty Mac. The score line doesn’t really do justice to how comfortable a win it was. Well done to everyone involved!

20 April 2013 – Dorking 2 Belgravians 1 and Dorking 1 Belgravians 0

Unfortunately we were bitten by a 7th minute injury time winner in the first double header v Dorking (2-1) and lost the second game 1-0.

13 April 2013 – Enfield 4 Belgravians 0

The scoreline of 4-0 flattered Enfield considerably but at 0-0 and 1-0 down we were guilty of missing two good chances which if taken would have put us right back in the game. Enfield had the better of the first half and went ahead after a dubious goal with their striker man handling Dawson before finishing from close range.

We dominated the second half and Enfield scored on the breakaway with 12 minutes to go to make it 2-0, and then unfortunately the floodgates opened and the fourth goal was a mile offside. By this stage we had switched to 4-4-2 and played Justin through the middle with Greenwood and the big Grenadian and the big Lancastrian scared the living daylights out of their centre backs on an increasingly skiddy surface. The attitude in the second half was top notch and shows we are always much better playing on the front foot although we lacked a true goal threat during the game and once they had gone 2-0 up we didn’t have attacking options off the bench to react.

At times we were guilty of overplaying in tight areas on a surface that simply called for doing the simple things well but at least we tried and there were a lot of positives. Andy Terry made a brace of excellent saves. Nick Walker came off the bench for his debut on the left wing and added real quality with his delivery, becoming only the third left footer ever to represent the club and only the second not to shin every other cross into touch.

15 December 2012 – UCL 2 Belgravians 1

Despite having virtually played for 70 minutes with 10 men after Hanks got injured early on but battled on courageously, Accies nicked a winner in the very last minute to leave us all flat out on the deck and gutted.

The first half was fairly balanced in terms of chances but Accies should have had a man sent off or at the very least booked for hacking down Brad early on when he looked to be clean through. We then took the lead 30 minutes in. Highamy cushioned a header to me on the half way line, I flicked it to Hanks infield, Hanks had a bit of space to pick out a loft wedge of a pass to play Steve in who had a straight run in on goal but still a fair bit of thinking time. He finished well beating the keeper low to his right for his 10th of the season. They equalised five minutes later when their deep lying centre mid, probably the best player on the pitch carried the ball perhaps too easily and arrowed a shot which fizzed off the turf and nestled in the far corner. In between times Andy Terry made a serious of top, top, top saves in tricky conditions.

In the second half with the conditions deteriorating, the rain pouring down and against a younger fitter side, we retreated (perhaps too much) to the sanctuary of the eighteen yard box. It looked and felt like war without the guns at times but we kept our shape and discipline admirably. Tired legs and minds lost concentration with nearly the last kick of the game, their centre forward who had been fairly inconspicuous throughout suddenly found quick feet to jink in and around the middle of our defence and was left one on one with Andy from 12 yards, and cooly slotted away. Gutting but a lot to take out of it not least the spirit and the shape though perhaps we need to press more in the right areas. Perhaps too often they advanced with little resistance from the half-way line to the edge of the box. But we were out on our feet with no real pace in the side to give us a breather.

3 November 2012 – Wood Green 0 Belgravians 2

We got back on track in the league with a solid 2-0 win away against Wood Green on a thoroughly miserable afternoon in a nasty little part of north east London just a stone’s throw from where Tim Hall is raising his young family. We are now second in the table.

On possibly the worst pitch we’ve played on in the last five seasons, we started strongly against opposition who with 10 mins to go before kick-off had only 7 men and who by the time we kicked off were flush with 9 players. We scored early on with Sion following up a half-clearance from their centre half/keeper and controlling a lovely side foot volley into the top corner from 15 yards.

Every five minutes another Wood Green car would pull in to the car park to unveil another Wood Green ringer. Eventually we got back to 11 v 11 and life become more difficult for us with several unenforced errors although Minesy did a fantastic job in nets in the absence of a genuine goalkeeper, demonstrating reflexes that Bobby Charlton once hallmarked on a soccer school with the advice “never, ever play outfield son”.

JT and Sion were busy in the centre of the park and Phillips was outstanding on the right, delivering a number of pinpoint crosses one of which Steve might have scored. Their keeper pulled off a terrific double save at the far post from Sion and then the follow-up from Steve. Hallio also hit the far post with a corner. At the other end Mines repelled everything from goal bound shots to criminally under-hit back passes.

With 20 to go in the second half we sealed victory as Hallio was played through on the inside right channel and finished high and handsomely at the keeper’s near post. Five minutes later his ambitious overhead kick cracked open the Wood Green centre half’s nose. In possibly the greatest display of Corinthian virtues ever on a football field management took the decision to take Hall off to ensure 10 v 10 and a level playing field. 30 minutes later and to a man we failed to accept aftermatch food to ensure that our spirit of football will nosedive once more. With 10 to go I swung a right footer onto the crossbar and then had to take myself off after another dizzy spell. It was one of those bizarre afternoons. We held out.

27 October 2012 – Salvatorians 5 Belgravians 1

Unfortunately we lost 5-1 to a strong Salvatorians side on Saturday. Although a few of their goals were top corner pot shots, they were the better team for most of the match. As with the week before, we took a while to settle into the game and despite another earlier second half rally, ultimately we were well beaten. JT did, however, score a cracking late penalty – could we have found our new taker…?
The effort is certainly not lacking at the moment, but after cruising through the recent home games, we’ve hit a stumbling block. We probably need have a think about how we set up away from home on those big pitches – tactics are likely to be key this season and we need to adapt them to suit the different styles/strengths of the opposition and sizes of pitch. Didge is coming up with a masterplan as we speak!

20 October 2012 – Bealonians 8 Belgravians 0

We were taught a few lessons on Saturday and lost 8 (videprinter… eight) nil. It didn’t help that I forgot the spare kit (cue James Davenport and Andy Terry both in medium shirts…), that I had to start in nets with no gloves a la Gordon Banks, and that Gav Youll got himself sent off with an “ill-considered” challenge after 20 minutes. We did show one or two glimpses of good football early in the second half where we weren’t afraid to knock it around and build from the back. But it is fair to say that we were comprehensively outplayed for the majority of the match.

29 September 2012 – Belgravians 3 Old Economicals 0

We continued our excellent start to the season with a 3-2 win at home against Old Economicals having been two goals clear for most of the match.

Steve Embleton, operating in the hole just behind Hallio, scored his first by hooking the ball over his shoulder with his back to goal at the near post after a cross from the right. His second, ten minutes later, was a powerful header into the top corner after another good delivery from JT. After 35 minutes Economicals got one bag after we failed to clear from a corner falling to an Economicals outstretched boot to stab home the ball from 10 yards out through a crowd of defenders with Andy Terry unsighted. In truth we could have closed down the shot earlier.

With both Alex Morgan and Economicals’ best player enjoying prawn sandwich hospitality at the Emirates, the game lacked a bit of fizz at times in the second half but again we were much the better side in terms of possession and opportunities, controlling play in the middle of the park with our five of Phillips, Scott, Sion, Steve and JT supported by Steve dropping back to get on the ball. With 60 gone Steve picked up the ball just into the Economicals half, a few runs off the ball opened up a chunk of space in the middle of the park of biblical proportions for JT to cut into from the right side and receive Steve’s nicely weighted through ball. JT still had a lot to do, jinking past one Economicals centre back and then a covering full-back before finishing very cooly lifting a powerful shot over the keeper from 15 yards.

At the back Matt Leigh and Luke Jennison were very solid and communicated well. We are keeping the ball a lot better than in previous seasons and playing with confidence. We could have had half a dozen more goals but couldn’t capitalise. The late consolation goal for Economicals flattered them.

We are now third in the table with 7 points from 4 games and have played well in every game. Next up Westminster in the Old Boys cup this Saturday at home followed by a big home league match against Thorntonians and then a tricky away Senior Cup fixture against Bealonians.

22 September 2012 – Belgravians 1 UCL 1

We played some cracking football at times against a decent Accies side and were very unlucky only to come away with a point. We started very brightly and quickly created chances with Chris Phillips and Hanks linking up nicely, and Steve, Scott and JT bursting through from midfield. We thought we’d got out reward when Steve nodded in from 6 yards out, only to be given offside – now I admit that I was 60 yards away trying to stop my daughter from eating fag butts on the side of the pitch, but from where I was standing, it was definitely ON SIDE!

However, we continued applying the pressure and Steve made up for the first poor decision by stabbing home from 6 yards out – in what looked like a remarkably similar set of circumstances. This time the goal stood. We then won a penalty (not sure what for as again I was some distance away, but by all accounts deserved). Sadly the keeper saved Hanks’ effort and we had to settle for a 1-0 advantage at half time.

They started the second half much more brightly and unfortunately managed to get an equaliser after 5 minutes. Everyone in our back four (bar Tom Storer) thought it was offside, but the ref waved play on. We then proceeded to dominate possession and territory, playing some scintillating stuff, but unfortunately couldn’t stick it in the back of the net.

That’s 6 really good halves of football we’ve now played this season and I think we’ve been very unlucky only to have 4 points to show for it. However, loads of positives, particularly our ability to keep the ball (who’d have thought!) and options in midfield.

17 September 2012 – Belgravians 4 Wood Green 1

Having been unlucky not to come away with a draw away at Hale End the previous weekend, we got our first 3 points of the season with an emphatic 4-1 win against Wood End. It was a nice way to celebrate our first outing on the new pitch at Turney Road, which looks like one which will hold out a lot better against the elements come winter time. Wood Green are less strong than in previous years but we took the game to them from the start and Alex Morgan scored a brace in the first 20 minutes, the first a stunning 15 yard drive off the outside of his right boot to beat the keeper at his near post having been picked out by Scott McKinlay down the left, the second a tidy finish low across the keeper from right to left from 10 yards after Minesy had put him through with a through ball that Jake Livermore would have been proud of.

Our shape was excellent throughout with Hanks dropping into midfield when we didn’t have the ball and Scott and Hallio offering real width and trickery. Into the second half Wood Green got back into the game with a brilliant 25 yard free-kick but we in truth that was there only real chance on goal. We must have half a dozen corners and a dozen shots on goal before the number and quality of Marlon’s crosses from the right paid dividends with Hanks peeling round to the far post to bury a header from a tight angle and eventually Nick Skill scoring on his competitive debut with a Kanu-esque back flick. There was still time for Belgravians to have the usual panic moment with an indirect free-kick award against us in the box after Marlon’s 45 yard backpass which Luis did well to pick up let alone get a touch on, but we defended our goal-line like cornered tigers.

An excellent team performance but special mention in particular to Gareth who put in a tireless performance in the middle of the park in his last match before his 6 month secondment to Australia.

8 September – Hale End 1 Belgravians 0

Unfortunately despite a gutsy performance in the scorching sun on Saturday, we started our league campaign with a 1-0 defeat at the hands of a decent Hale End side.

Discipline was the word of the day and we stuck to our tactics really well. The midfield worked its socks off, neutralising the key men for most of the match. We defended very well with Chris Brown on debut making a huge impact. And as ever Tim Hall led the line with his usual energy. We had chances in the first half with Steve Embleton only being denied by a miracle last ditch tackle. Things opened up in the second half and it could have gone either way, but sadly we were on the wrong end of the decisions, missing out on two decent penalty appeals before JT was penalised for a hand ball in our area. Andy T, having made some cracking saves during the game, could do nothing about the rocket penalty down the middle. We huffed and puffed for the remainder of the match but couldn’t find the breakthrough. Despite the loss, there were plenty of positives and we showed that we can keep the ball. A good confidence builder for the next few games.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.londonlawyersfc.org/match-reports/2012-2013/