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2013 – 2014

10 May, 2014: Aloysians 2 LLFC 1 

Aloysians were a decent young side and went ahead with a cross-shot from the edge of the box after Greenwood punched (he was in nets) away a cross to the far-post but inadvertently collided with Bright (making a strong debut at centre-half).

We then grew stronger as the half  wore on with Cole and Morgan prominent down the flanks and Hallio narrowly failing to flick a through ball past their obese goalkeeper. We were second to the ball in a lot of central areas and lacked a bit of bite in the tackle, but strong on the counter-attack.

We dominated the early part of the second half, playing with more intensity and equalised in the most rudimentary fashion: A Greenwood punt down field was deflected by the combination of Morgan colliding with their goalkeeper and the ball rebounding into the goal.  They then showed their class and finished strongly having taken the lead with a 15 yard shot that Greenwood had no chance to save after a knock-down by their centre forward.

A shame but we probably didn’t do enough to win the game, particularly through our age old issue of not playing the simple ball when it was on and building moves. (Anil Matharu)

26 April, 2014: LLFC 2 Shene 4

“So the story begins on a fine Spring morning in the leafy suburbs of South London. The hero of our tale…

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… full-time” (Gavin Youll)

5 April, 2014: Ignatians 4 LLFC 1

With only 10 men for 90 mins and one of those injured we put up a decent fight but eventually ran out of puff against Ignatians. Still I hear team spirit was pretty good both on the pitch and in the bar afterwards. (Anil Matharu)

29 March, 2014: HAC II 2 LLFC 1

We lost to our new bogey team and co-tenants, HAC, at the Griffin on Saturday, though at least not by the cricket score in the first fixture.

In a tight game HAC went ahead just before half-time, drilling home a fine volley from eight yards out, although Jack was clearly being impeded by their centre-half from the free-kick which led to the goal.

We shot ourselves in the foot conceding a cheap near-post header from a corner two minutes into the second half, but rallied well and Steve slotted home a nice pen (two nice pens, given he had to re-take for an HAC player infringing) to put us back in the game after James Hinton was hacked down in the box. We came close with two stretching headers from diminutive Malaga loanee Tim Lopez, making his usual end of season cameo appearance, and Steve with a rasping, swirling 25-yard thunder bast@rd of a free-kick that hit the upright and cannoned off.

But HAC needed the win to give them any chance of staying up, and fought hard for their win. With no little help from the HAC 1st team skipper given their 1s had the week off…

A word too for Mike Dill returning to help us out in nets who produced an acrobatic save in the first half to tip a shot bound for the top corner round the post, and for Dave Harding, out since September, who made us play better stuff when he came on second half. (Anil Matharu)

22 March, 2014: Old Thorntonians 0 LLFC 3

Three goals and a clean sheet represented a satisfying day’s work for LLFC, who produced a solid defensive display and some decent attacking play to overcome Old Thorntonians in tough conditions. A strong crosswind coupled with a rock solid pitch ensured players on both sides spent as much time chasing and retrieving the ball as playing any kind of football, but LLFC’s XI, many of them returning from illness or several weeks out of action for other reasons, coped well to record what was, in the end, a comfortable victory.

After the early exchanges in which neither side could get hold of the ball, the breakthrough came when Scott stole the ball out on the right and whipped an excellent cross into the box for big Alex Morgan, who arrived at the match with one knee and no shinpads, to cushion home from six yards. Old Thorntonians had the lion’s share of possession from then on, aided in large part by the wind that had turned to blow in their favour. Nevertheless, LLFC were up to the task and proving water-tight at the back, with resolute defending from the back four and Steve, a constant nuisance for the opposition’s key man in midfield, restricting Old Thorntonians to over-hit crosses and speculative efforts from 30 yards. It was against the run of the play, then, that LLFC netted their second. A quick free-kick from Karl found Mike’s feet on the edge of box. Swivelling away from his marker, he worked the ball to Scott whose low cross from the byline evaded the keeper and fell kindly for Jack, throughout the match a formidable presence in both boxes, to smash in from two yards.

After the break, the game followed much the same pattern; Old Thorntonians, without a pair of shooting boots between them, attempted pot-shots from distance while LLFC, led by Morgan working the line, caused problems on the counter. LLFC’s third came on the hour, and what a goal it was. A quick throw-in from the right fell to the returning Mike, who turned his man with a deft touch before half-volleying the ball beyond the keeper’s fingertips and into the top corner from fully 22 and a half yards.

With a three-goal cushion and the midfield duo of Andy and Karl starting to pull the strings, LLFC began to find their rhythm and a period of sustained pressure saw Scott (I think) and someone else (I assume) both hit the crossbar from close range. Andy himself produced a bullet header from a Mike cross but the keeper saved well, while Higham had a shot he swore was destined for the top corner blocked by, he argued, an opposition hand. Old Thorntonians, meanwhile, continued to press for a consolation but their disappointing efforts continued to find only the bushes behind the LLFC goal. All in all, it was a pleasing performance for an LLFC side missing several key players, the clean sheet just reward for a team steadily building momentum heading into the run-in. (Mike Long)

15 March, 2014: LLFC 2 Kings Old Boys 1

Saturday saw a return to winning ways for the Double Ls as we made it a season’s double over Kings Old Boys with a hard fought 2-1 victory at the Griffin, a welcome return to form after the ignominy of the previous week’s defeat to HAC and the “Peegate” scandal.

On a surprisingly dry and bobbly pitch, LLs were the stronger side in the first 20 minutes and created chances, the best being a header from the Owen Oliver (recently returning from an extended period of warm weather training)  from which King’s Gallic goal minder pulled off a blinding save. LL’s continued to create space, particularly down the right hand side but then against the run of play, Kings took the lead with a rasping drive from 20 yards which went in off the post, leaving Andy Terry with no chance. The momentum then shifted Kings’ way and with the benefit of bright sunshine and the wind at their backs, pinned LL’s in their own territory for the remainder of the half.

Cue half time and stern words from the player manager with the key themes being “Game Management” (more on this later) and the need to make use of the favourable wind and hit balls into the channels. A change was also made, with the author coming on for Oliver.

Kings continued where they left off after the break and looked dangerous, but slowly but surely, our midfield began to win the battle in the middle of the park and territory and possession started to turn our way. The equaliser finally came some 15 minutes into the second half via yours truly, picking up a ball into feet on the edge of their 18 yard box, nutmegging (or the ball ricocheting off depending on your point of view) their centre back and firing into the top left hand corner from an acute angle.

Buoyed by the equaliser and by Kings becoming increasingly frustrated with the referee, we pushed on and 5 mins later the second and what turned out to be the winning goal came from Hinton (the elder) who latched onto a through ball from Thomas and coolly slid the ball into the bottom left hand corner.

As we expected though, Kings fought back and introduced a couple of behemoths from the bench. Our response was to bring on the diminutive yet effervescently vocal player manager to even up the stakes who soon made his mark with a trademark hacking down of their central midfield player just outside our penalty box. From that point onwards we defended stoically (if perhaps a little too deep) and managed to keep an ever willing Kings at bay who looked dangerous, especially from set pieces. To continued screams of “discipline” and “game management” from the player coach and following a slight disagreement between him and the author on out tactics from attacking throw ins, the ball was cleared from our penalty area following one of many Kings attacks and to the astonishment of all, “Leighton” Matharu went gallivanting up the left wing after the ball like a 20 year old and reached the edge of Kings 18 yard box. We all held our breath in anticipation of what would happen next, and what transpired was  a beautiful 5 yard slide rule pass straight to their centre half, who then  punted the ball back into our half to launch yet another Kings’ attack. Madness said some, Bergkampesque said others (as in he sees things other players don’t). Gladly we held on for the win. (Justin Edgar)

8 March, 2014: LLFC 3 HAC II 6

Saturday was not a good day at the office.  We gave away a 2-0 lead to lose 6-3 to the bottom of the table team; had a man sent off for terets; got an unofficial warning from the ground for 2 players having a pee in a bush before the game; have been reported by said ref as a club for poor conduct; and, in a variation of Man v Beast, Management had a fight with a Tawny Eagle at a West country Falconry exhibition (Exhibit A – and you thought you had a bad weekend…).

These things happen. Losing a 2-0 lead can be put down to down partly to rustiness but we need to remember game management and we are simply not good enough as a team to think two goals is enough and switch off.  The sending-off is regrettable but good on the player concerned for sticking his hand up and that’s the end of the matter. We move on! (Anil Matharu)

1 February, 2014: LLFC 4 Dorking 1

“GAME IS ON REPEAT ON PLS CONFIRM” (sent from Anil Matharu Sat 01/02/2014 11:26) – a battle cry of sorts I presume.

With confirmation that the game would be going ahead, the LLFC tough mudders set off for the second time in as many weeks on the long journey to Dorking. 

In the dressing room there was a distinct feeling that this time, things would be different, after a painful 3-2 loss the previous weekend. Morgan, champing at the bit, went out half an hour early to warm up and missed what was no doubt an inspiring team talk. Luckily he was given the vital information right as the referee was about to blow his whistle. “You’re starting – on the right”.

LLFC started briskly, managing to put some decent passes together despite playing in what was literally a quagmire. Embleton immediately made his presence felt and bossed things while Bentley looked dangerous from the off. Good work down the right hand side from Storer saw the ball come to Morgan in the middle of the park in some space. Morgan, head down and driving towards goal, was judged to be unfairly impeded by the Dorkinians centre half – indirect free kick.

With no fewer than seven LLFC players standing over the ball, it was unclear who would be given the honours. In the end Simpson, was given the nod. A gentle touch to the right by Mike Long, keen for an assist, saw the ball move exactly one revolution to the right.  Simpson then stepped up and (seemingly) effortlessly curled the ball into the top corner – the keeper left flapping in despair and then covered in mud. 1-0.

Heeding Didge’s frantic admonishments from the side-line “Remember what happened last week!”, LLFC was keen to keep the pressure up and was soon rewarded.  Excellent work down the left flank involving Mike Long, saw O’Halloran released down the wing and delivering a peach of a cross.  Embleton (with a tremendous amount to do) neatly directed O’Halloran’s cross into the bottom right corner – no doubt a contender for goal of the season. 2-0.

Celebrations were cut short by more shouts of “Remember what happened last week!”, but LLFC would soon extend their lead. This time Simpson (again), after winning the ball back in the Dorkinian’s half, found himself with half a yard of space just outside the 18 yard box. With enviable technique he hammered a right-footed strike which hit the ground 5 yards in front of the keeper and, mimicking a skipping stone, fizzed into the back of the net. 3-0.

Dorkinians sensing an embarrassing result, stepped up the intensity and took advantage of a momentary lapse in LLFC concentration to ghost into the 6 yard box to pull one back from a corner just before half time.  Buoyed by their goal at the end of the first half, Dorkinians started the second half the sharper side.  However, stalwart Horsley was able to handle everything that the Dorks could throw at him. Still, there were some hairy moments when the Dorks came close (including a double goal-line clearance), but Terry was formidable in goal. 

With the pressure building, the Dorks increasing in confidence and more cries of “Remember what happened last week!”, it was clear that LLFC needed another goal to make it safe. Debutant Harvey was brought on and installed on the right flank. With comparisons being made to a young Jesus Navas, Harvey was lively and clearly keen to impress the management. Shortly after his introduction, Harvey burned the Dorkinians left back and latched on to an excellent through ball by Thomas. The LPC student (no contest for the youngest player award) then split the retreating defenders and advancing goalkeeper with a crisp driven cross which Morgan met firmly with a diving header to put the game beyond doubt.

Feeling that the time was right, and hoarse from continuous shouting throughout the game (mostly of the “lest we forget” variety), our dear and fearless leader took to the pitch for the last 20 minutes.  (Some thought he would never play the beautiful game again, but they clearly haven’t met the man.)  LLFC’s chief tactician, having swapped the clipboard for a reinforced knee brace and boots (although waders would have probably been more appropriate footwear), looked strong in left back – the highlight being a fine cross after a determined overlapping run down the flank.  In the post-match interview Matharu is quoted as saying “I can’t remember what happened with that cross… All I remember is feeling rather quite tired when I turned round and realised it was a long way back…” 

Welcome back sir Didge!

3 goals to the good. LLFC saw the rest of the game out, largely without incident. A well deserved victory. (Alex Morgan)

25 January 2014: Dorking 3 LLFC 2

We lost our first league game in 5 at Dorking despite going 1-0 through a solo effort from Mike O’Halloran and 2-1 up with a cracking 20 yard free kick from Cole. After Dorking equalised for a second time we then had a gilt edged chance to go 3-2 up which went begging and Dorking punished us with ten minutes to go. (Anil Matharu)

11 January, 2014: Hale End 3 LLFC 5

But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.

It was a clear, bright January day that saw London Lawyers file out in Walthamstow, East London for this weekend’s lunch time kick-off. The warm weather training undertaken by the team during the Christmas off-season shone through and the lads in blue started fairly well against a pacey Hale End side on the 3G surface.

Alex Morgan’s presence up top was a problem for Hale End from the off and their somewhat disorganised approach to marshalling their back line meant they were lucky not to be punished at an early stage by Lawyers’ target man. With Thomas and McDermott in the middle of the park Lawyers began to put some tidy moves together and looked the more dominant side for the first 20 minutes of the game. This pressure told with a goal from the team’s dead ball specialist Luke Mines, who cunningly disguised a goal-bound effort from a corner as a cross and sent the Lawyers ahead 1-0.

As the first half progressed, Hale End began to show signs of life with Horsley engaging in a characteristic physical tussle with the oppo’s trigger man up top, whilst Lawyers’ central midfield worked hard to hunt as a pack and prevent Hale’s playmaker-captain from pulling the strings on the game. Morgan continued to cause Hale’s defence all sorts of problems and won such a clear cut penalty that even the most febrile referee in the northern hemisphere could not help but award it. At this point Morgan decided that a 2-0 lead at this stage would make for a dull and uneventful day out and duly converted the penalty a la Johnny Wilkinson, over rather than under the woodwork. Lawyers were unfortunate to concede a sloppy goal before Hallio punished Hale for slack marking at corners with a composed headed finish, 2-1 at the break.

Following a rousing speech from Didge at half time, full of the vim and vigour we have come to expect from our ebullient leader, Lawyers promptly went to sleep for the first ten minutes of the second half. Whilst Hale were unorganised at times, theirs was not a team lacking in natural talent and Lawyers were duly punished for their lacklustre start to the second half: 2-2.

At this stage the tone of the game took a turn for the worse. A Hale man went down with what transpired to be a head injury, the referee didn’t blow up and O’Halloran managed to find the back of the net with a strike that represents a new-leaf following the winger’s well publicised love of the woodwork during 2013. Hale were somewhat miffed about conceding this goal and proceeded to explain in a calm and measured manner to the referee and any Lawyers players in the vicinity that they were jolly upset about what had happened and considered it to be downright ungentlemanly; however, the goal stood: 3-2.

In the face of a visibly riled opposition Lawyers kept their heads and maintained the pressure. Chris Musgrave entered the fray and, on his debut for Lawyers, won a clear-cut penalty following a darting run from the left-hand-side of midfield. Hale’s defenders once again showed great maturity and composure in reaction to this decision. Fortunately for Lawyers Steve was unphased by the turmoil around him and slotted the ball home from 12 yards, 4-2. After the restart a temporary lapse of concentration from Lawyers allowed Hale to nab one back with a tidy solo effort from just outside the box, 4-3.

In the final ten minutes of the game Hallio was playing up top and delivered Hale with a slice of instant karma for their harassment of him during the game. Having broken free and avoided the off-side trap Hallio calmly beat the keeper and slotted the ball home from inside the box. At the final whistle Lawyers breathed a collective sigh of relief at having secured a win which should have been put to bed far earlier in the game. Great to get the 4-4-2 machine working again, and great to start the new year with three points! (Mike O’Halloran)

14 December, 2013: LLFC 3 UCL 0

Bouyed by a gutsy performance against West Wickham the previous week, there was an air of cautious optimism before kick-off on Saturday against the league leaders. If you had played in the away fixture against UCL you would be forgiven for thinking such optimism was wholly misplaced. They gave us a good stuffing that day. What a wonderful early Christmas present it was to give them a good basting second time round, especially given that several players had very late nights indeed due to office parties. Special mention to Jack who came-to in McDonald’s at 6:30am, put in a characteristically excellent shift and could then be heard making plans to go to Faces in Essex following the game. Animal.

It was clear that UCL were there for the taking. They had the bare 11 and after we were shifted to a pitch that is possibly even narrower than our regular one, I really started to believe. UCL started brightly though and created the first clear chance of the match with a clinical passing move (not easy on a boggy pitch) which brought a sharp save from Andy. Didge was screaming at us to break the game down into 10 minute chunks and for once, we did. We kept it tight and we gained in confidence. Our first chance came when Steve won a header from a goal kick which put Hallio through on goal. Hallio could not have struck it better but it shuddered against the bar.

Our first goal came from a corner. Marcus swung the ball in and it was half cleared to the composed JT who kept his head over it and volleyed it hard back towards goal. The shot was going marginally wide and Karl showed good reflexes to glance it in from the edge of the 6 yard box. 1-0 and marginally deservedly so.

UCL continued to have greater possession without being overly threatening. Then, the crucial blow. A sucker punch out of the blue from Steve who took a snapshot from the edge of the box. The kind of shot that keepers hate. Low and hard and in the corner, bouncing just before it flies in. 2-0. Not much was said at half time. It didn’t need to be. We were executing our game plan and we just needed to keep it tight.

UCL started the second half the better side. Then, the icing on the cake. Hallio was played through about 35 yards from goal. Head down he drove onward and made the perfect run across the pursuing defenders to get his body/arse firmly between the centre back and goal. A customary composed finish followed. Is it fair to say that Hallio was the only player on the pitch who could have scored that goal? Just putting it out there.

It’s hard to continue to press when 3-0 up. Naturally we sat back and invited a bit of pressure but it was hardly desperate defending. We conceded a penalty when a bundle in the box lead to a UCL player being shunted in the back. He needed no further invitation to dutifully collapse. Andy decided not to dive early (after all, as Minesy commented, “why would you at this level”) and their penalty taker seemed flummoxed, stroking it to Andy who in kind stroked it back to give him a second crack at it. Oh joy, he put it over. It was our day and nothing was going to get in the way.

Special mention to Minesy who had worked the previous five weekends. It is testament to his fitness levels that he is able to turn up and slot in so seamlessly. Also to Karl, who returning from a hamstring injury fought tirelessly in the middle. However, this was a wonderful team effort sprinkled with moments of individual brilliance from Steve and Hallio. After losing the first 4 league games we are now displaying a grit and determination in our play that was absent at the start of the season. Literally, the ideal scenario to go into the Christmas break. Well done, one and all. (Tom Storer)

7 December, 2013: West Wickham 3 LLFC 1

At half time the score was 1-1 and we were well in it until with 10mins to go LL conceded possibly the most calamitous series of errors seen in a long time to put them 2-1 up. Having had the ball comfortably on the edge of our area, we ended up presenting their substitute striker with a header from one yard into an open goal. All that would be fine if 3 OBs defenders (and a keeper?) hadn’t touched the ball on the way to creating the unmissable chance……Their third came as we sort of pushed for an equaliser, though Marlon did come close with a one on one.

Man of the match – their #2 who won a good 90% of balls in the air (including the header from a corner that equalised our early lead).

Our man of the match – probably Scott, though John in midfield pushed him close. Well done chaps.

In hindsight we probably scored too early (not possible I know). So Cole, remember that next time you run half the length of the field to score….

So, another cup run ended before Christmas. At least we made it past the Christmas karaoke this year. Apparently theres a big game this weekend. At minesys age, they’re all big games. (Chris Higham)

30 November, 2013: Kings Old Boys 0 LLFC 3

To the tune of “We three kings of orient are”

We played Kings at Berrylands far,

Took 3 points to maintain our char(ge),

Goals from Alex, Tim and Steve were

Toasted within the bar

London Lawyers kicked off the festive season in style as we travelled to the little town of Berrylands and happily accepted three gifts from Kings. Spirits were high in the away changing room before the game, buoyed by the memory of stirring renditions of “Nothing’s gonna stop us now” (JT) and the equally uplifting “Tease me, tease me” (Didge – see facebook) from Thursday night’s social and by the fact that no fewer than four of the team unveiled new Adidas World Cup boots – surely some sort of sign from above rather than Sports Direct’s latest pricing strategy. (Editor’s note: Didge would like to reiterate that “tease me, tease me” is not a reference to not answering his emails till late on a Friday. That’s not the sort of teasing he likes.)

Despite the upbeat vibe, it wouldn’t be a London Lawyers game without a dodgy start – Andy Terry’s late arrival on his little donkey meant there was no room at the inn at kick-off for a regular keeper – Minesy deputising in goal for a tense minute of hoping that the oppo got nowhere near our goal before Andy appeared to take over. This minor trifle aside, LLs immediately looked the more dangerous side with some dynamic link-up play across the back and through midfield, particularly exploiting large spaces down the Kings left. One such move saw the ever-dangerous Morgan breaking clear from his marker and his sharp cutback enabled the lively Sullivan to latch onto the first real chance of the game and he was unlucky to see his effort just clear the bar. Further chances arrived, notably from the dead ball delivery of Mines, but it was not until the half-hour mark that LL’s dominance was rewarded with Steve Embleton gobbling up the opportunity with some gold-standard finishing – Cole’s cross found the backline out, for this feast of Steven’s, his finish left us in no doubt: neat and crisp and even – and into the bottom corner.

One-nil at halftime was probably a little flattering to a Kings side that had shown some early promise but little penetration, however a sharp save by Andy at his near-post was a salutary reminder that more goals were needed to make the game safe. The introduction of the pacey Edgar at the break signalled LL’s intent and he proved a consistent threat down the right flank, linking well with Hinton and the ubiquitous Thomas who were now bossing the middle of the park and winning every 50:50 ball – providing the front three with a constant supply of possession. Hinton’s unfortunate withdrawal through injury on the hour mark enabled Groom to enter the fray and he instantly marked his arrival with a delightful through ball to Morgan which he was unlucky not to convert. In the end it was something of a surprise that it was the largely anonymous Hall who gave LL’s some breathing space – gifted an opportunity by the dithering Kings centre-back, who should be frankly incensed to have let the veteran striker outpace him – the not-so-Tiny Tim bore down on goal and swiftly tucked one away like it was the last mince pie.

Now entirely comfortable with a 2 goal cushion and a Scrooge-like defence that was giving nothing away, it only remained to be seen whether the Lawyers could bolster their goal-difference against an increasingly ragged Kings. Given the paucity of dirty challenges during the match, the Kings keeper’s decision to deck the Hall with fouls was folly of the highest degree, particularly within the penalty area where the LL’s striker needed no further invitation to go down like he’d been murdered (myrrh-dered? Sorry…). Morgan stepped up to provide JT with a penalty-taking lesson – rifling a cracker of a penalty high into the right-hand corner of the net. It was as much as the big striker deserved in a game which saw him frequently bringing others in to play as the most advanced of the front three on his own, as our fluid 4-3-3 oft resembled a 4-3-2-1, or, as it’s more commonly known, the Christmas tree formation…

Three nil it remained for the final few minutes – a fair reflection of LL’s supremacy on the day and hopefully the advent of even more impressive performances to come. (Tim Hall)

2 November, 2013: Shene 2 LLFC 1

In between conceding a schoolboy goal after 2 minutes and losing our marker for their headed winner (admittedly from an excellent corner delivery) mid way through the second half, we didn’t do too much wrong on Saturday. We were marginally the better team in terms of possession and quality on the ball without really ever penetrating for a sustained period, but we had the better of the clear-chances, with MO’ thumping the cross-bar from 25 yards with one of his trade-mark right to left thunderbolts.

Half-time came at the wrong time for us – we were in the ascendancy, Marlon had got us back to 1-1 with a powerful leap and header from 10 yards to convert Minesy’s hanging cross, and MO’ clearly had his shirt tugged back by their defender when clean through on goal 5 minutes later. A red card; a cast iron penalty, but the ref gave nothing, MO’ to his credit stayed on his hooves (if only it had been Hallio, who is always game for a cheeky tumble) and the keeper had time to recover.

With Twickenham providing an imposing backdrop, we eventually ran out of puff on a huge, boggy rugby pitch. Despite good build up play from both sides it was hard to recall any real chances other than the goals themselves, although Marlon went close with a first time volley from Hallio’s ball to the far post but just didn’t quite connect properly. Its fair to say we were a little off it in the warm up and hadn’t really woken up in time to deal with their early breakthrough.

Special mention for James Ogden starting an LLFC game for the first time and putting in a solid performance and, for MO’, who was our stand out performer with his direct running.

Particular thanks should go to the opposition for arranging the game in the busiest part of London (they have 3 other grounds but like this one) and then inviting us for food 7 miles away. Strong.

Plenty of positives though – our back three looked solid again in our usual 3-5-2 formation with Horsley in his normal Beckenbauer sweeper role, and our two strikers terrorising the defence off the last shoulder. Also, good to see our short corner routine caught them napping again, and our overlapping wingbacks looked dangerous all afternoon. (Anil Matharu)

26 October, 2013: LLFC 5 Hale End 0

We built on our last gasp victory against Ignatians the previous weekend to thump Hale End 5-zip at Turney Road.

Despite some early nervousness on both sides with the wind making it difficult to judge the ball in the air, we soon showed our superiority both in possession and territory, with Steve placing a firm header past their keeper from 10 yards after an inadvertent flick on from their centre back at the near post following pressure from Scotty Mac. 10 minutes later and Scott made it 2-0 firing in on the rebound.

Hale offered very little bar lofting hopeful balls from the back in the vague direction of their big lone striker, but our back four were resolute and it was as good to see them high-fiving in celebration of a first clean sheet of the season at the final whistle as it was to see our strikers in ruthless mood, with Marlon showing an icy determination and cool head with 2 lovely finishes on the breakaway. A word too for Andy Terry who pulled of one terrific save to tip a goal bound free-kick round the post and then use his substantial forehead to good effect when the ball kicked up at a bizarre angle having bounced a metre in front of him. We have found a good system and an even better team spirit with everyone buying into what we are trying to achieve.

In between times we panicked the Hale defence enough for one of their number to put through his own net. We also kept our counsel whilst Hale self-destructed, picking fights amongst themselves, with the ref and then with a few of our own. (Anil Matharu)

19 October, 2013: LLFC 3 Old Ignatians 2

Bouncebackability was the buzz word at The Griffin as we came back from 2-1 down with 15 minutes to go to beat Ignatians 3-2 with almost the last kick (or rather miscued slice) of the game. It was a terrific display of grit and determination with some good football played at times too. After a tough start to the season we finally have the monkey off our back and can look forward to this Saturday’s game v Hale.  

We began well playing with a high tempo against an Ignatians side unbeaten in their opening four games. Scott McKinlay ignored team instructions to good effect by arriving late into the box to steer home a cut back from Mike O’Halloran after a nice build up on the right, stretching for the ball and deftly prodding it into the far corner from 15 yards.

We kindly let Ignatians back into the game 10 minutes later after a careless pass infield was cut out and they caught us napping on the counter. At half-time though we probably had the balance of play with O’Halloran having gone close from 25 yards and Mike Long having their right back on toast time and again.

After the break we should have had a penalty when Marlon was pole-axed in the box but the ref waved on. Minesy, doing a great job in nets then went on a wander when their no 10 was put through in space but was canny enough to scythe him down sufficiently far from goal to merit only a yellow as our defenders got back in numbers to cover.

With 15 minutes to go we thought our luck was out as a cruel deflection off Jack Horsley completely wrong-footed Mines, who two minutes earlier had leapt like a salmon to repel a 25 yarder destined for the top corner. But we did not lose faith and the addition of James Hinton to midfield paid dividends when he flicked on a near post corner from Long across the Ignatians keeper and into the far top corner with about 8 minutes left.

We then withstood a succession of corners before Mike Long was fed down the left and put in a beautiful low ball to the far post where Marlon, who had shown some lovely touches throughout, thumped his effort against the bar and then forced a good save from the keeper at the near post on the rebound.  From the ensuing corner Mike Long whipped in a ball to the near post and their centre-half deflected the ball past their hapless keeper.

Cue delirium and some O’Neill-esque / Fergie-esque celebrations in the technical area, which you can see on our facebook page. We won as a 14 players with all substitutes adding quality when our starting 11 tired. If we can keep the spine of that squad together and enhance it with one or two others coming back we will win a lot more matches than we will lose. (Anil Matharu)

12 October, 2013: Albanian 4 LLFC 1

Another tough game away to Albanians who beat us 4-1. We conceded two soft goals in the first half, but had Bentley converted his one-on-one chance early on the game could have had a completely different complexion. We struggled with their formation a little and looked much better when we went 4-3-3.

Tim Hall scored a tidy finish for us after working hard to close down their central defender, and 2-1 at half time made the team talk interesting.

It was still 2-1 after 60 minutes and we were competing well, but as we pressed for an equaliser we lost a little bit of discipline and conceded two more goals. Mike Long hit the bar with a beautifully struck volley, but in truth we didn’t get enough players forward to make our chances count.

A few tweaks and we will turn this around – we had chances on Saturday and have plenty of individual talent, we just need to get used to each other and play as a team – not easy when you don’t train together but we are where we are. (Anil Matharu)

28 September, 2013: UCL 3 LLFC 0

Saturday was another tough day at the office with a defeat away to UCL.

Despite the notorious public vote of confidence delivered by the Board to Management after the match we need not panic just yet – we’ve had as difficult a start to the season as anyone can remember facing a side who have dropped down from the Premier division, then playing well against Thorntonians but not taking our chances and then losing at UCL where, on their huge pitch and against a young quick side, we have not won for several seasons although by the sounds of it there were some pretty shoddy refereeing decisions against us. (Anil Matharu)

21 September, 2013: LLFC 1 Thorntonians 3 

We lost 3-1 to Thorntonians at Turney Road on Saturday despite having had four or five glorious chances to take the game away from them in the first half. Their keeper produced an inspired display to repel several of those attempts, most notably tipping Tom Storer’s well-struck penalty onto the bar with the score at 0-1.

Though I’m sure he would rather forget it, Storer’s miss has been recorded by a not very innocent bystander for posterity and you can see it on our facebook page which shows what a top save it was and why Tom should have shot right rather than left…. Storer now joins an illustrious set of LLFC players such as Hankin, Hall (several times each), Harris (we’re still waiting for that one to land somewhere in a field near Eltham College, several years later), Phillips, JT, Matharu, Groves, Leigh and pretty much every other outfield player to have represented the club.

Thorntonians went ahead against the run of play after an unfortunate own goal by Steve Embleton who bravely put his head in where it hurts to try and deal with a good but dubiously awarded free-kick on our left flank. Having missed the spot-kick we then failed to head away a very simple ball down the middle from their keeper (suicide on a short pitch with a  slope such as Turney Road’s) and some indecision between defenders and keeper allowed their striker to score with plenty of space with a low drive from 20 yards.

We reduced the deficit by one 15 minutes into the second half when Steve directed a strong header into the far corner from Marcus Hinton’s excellent inswinging free-kick and then scrambled valiantly to get the equaliser with their keeper producing two more top saves including point blank from Luke McDermott’s volley and James Hinton who went on a strong run.  With 10 to go they hit us on the counter-attack but the scoreline of 3-1 flattered them.

As Minesy remarked, in the corresponding fixture last season we won 2-1 but played much, much worse, and really it was a case of not taking our chances and the opposition defending simply and effectively whereas sometimes a lack of communication at the back hurt us. Special mention for Gav Youll who was immense at centre-back.

In honour of Paolo di Canio – two minor moans – please can everyone be on time, there were a few stragglers (some who live just down the road – you know who you are and its not fair to those who have trekked miles and are on time), and please can those who need to work on their fitness put in the hard yards during the week (if you don’t know who you are, we will soon be telling you!). (Anil Matharu)

14 September, 2013: LLFC 1 Old Aloysians 3

Despite plenty of positives to take from the game, we ended up losing 3-1 in our first league match against Old Aloysians on Saturday. A few fairly soft goals cost us and we didn’t quite have the cutting edge going forward, but in all fairness the opposition have just come down from the top division so were no mugs and we are still bedding in quite a few new players – we can’t expect miracles overnight.

A lovely strike from Mike Long was the highlight, with he and Mike O’Halloran giving us some genuine width.

Despite a nervy first 20, we certainly grew more assured defensively as the match progressed and the combination of youth (Storer, Horsley, Jennison) and experience/extreme old-age (Higham, Mines) should serve us very well. We also have a good mix of finesse and physicality in the middle (I’ll leave you to guess which applies to Scott and which applies to Karl!) (Anil Matharu)

10 September, 2013: LLFC 4 Honourable Artillery Company 2 (friendly)

Despite conceding two early goals, the second from a dubious penalty which saw an aggrieved Mines talk himself into the book, we rallied strongly with Greenwood heading in his first goal for almost a year after a looped cross from John Groom on the left.

Minesy got over his earlier mental anguish by scoring a beauty from a 20 yard free-kick, Greenwood converted his second at the far post to give us the lead and promptly celebrated like David Pleat at Maine Road in 1983. Mines then delivered another delicious set-piece from the right which Steve Embleton met with a forceful header back across the keeper for 4-2.

We began to dominate and Groom had a lovely curling effort into the top corner disallowed after good approach play from McKinlay, with the clamour for goal-line technology at this level intensifying.

A mention for Andy Terry who made an excellent stop mid-way through the second half. (Anil Matharu)

7 September, 2013: LLFC 4 Sinjuns Old Grammarians 0

A comprehensive win against former rivals Sinjuns who are much the weaker these days after we stole their best player.

Yet somehow we managed to make a game which we dominated look like tough work with new players still finding their feet, and in Scott McKinlay’s case, still finding his balance, on good old, sand-based, ACL shredding, astro.

The goals – as much as anyone can remember them – were scored by Steve (twice), Hill (I think) and someone else (possibly). Brown and Storer looked imperious at centre-half but Sinjuns offered so little that Management, bored to the hind teeth, found time to give some squat Spanish bystander called Ricardo from Valencia a 10 minute debut and a hell of a story to tell his nietos one day. Debuts too for Karl Simpson and John Groom. (Anil Matharu)

3 September, 2013: LLFC 1 South Bank University 2 (friendly)

Undoubtedly not the first time that a man in his mid-twenties has prematurely grabbed hold of his dislocated member at a venue that goes by the same name, but all the same Alex Thorne’s horrific 4th minute broken ankle was a nasty shock to us all. Thorne, a whole-hearted, old-fashioned defender in the Chopper Harris mould, went flying into a tackle with the kind of blind heroism shown by kamikaze pilots in WWII. The tackle by Alex was late; the ambulance even later (1 hour 15 minutes). By Saturday evening he was ordering a three course meal in A&E; by Sunday lunchtime he had had surgery and is on decent form, all things considered. He’s looking forward to his VIP seat at home games while he recuperates.

The other details pale into insignificance, but for the record, we ended up playing a 60 minute game. We conceded after 15 minutes having lost the ball in midfield, though the 20 yard strike into the top corner left Andy Terry with no chance; Marlon equalised from the penalty spot after Steve Embleton was bundled over; they won the game when someone got their head to a long throw-in by The Guy Behind The Bar (playing for them, this time.  Promising debuts for Mike Long (Bakers), Jack Horsley, Will Tane (Ashursts) and Ian Hill (Free Agent). (Anil Matharu)

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