Pretty Poor but Enough for a Draw
Paddy scored twice to rescue a point for Falcons in one of our more underwhelming displays against Stonewall.
Chris was away this weekend but happily there were returns for Stevie and Andrew, while Dean made his league debut in goal, allowing Matt to start in midfield.
Without going to far into the details, pretty much all of our game was off. Stonewall passed the ball better, worked harder and challenged harder. That said, there wasn't a serious effort from them by the time we took the lead against the run of play on 30 minutes. Olu - on for Matt - was taken out by the Stonewall goalkeeper and from the resulting free kick Alex's cross found Paddy who deftly flicked the ball over Scott and tapped in to make it 1-0.
Goalkeeping debuts are never easy but you would have a heart of stone not to feel some sympathy for the ten minute period Dean had before half time. On 35 minutes Gary in the Stonewall midfield lumped a ball into the Falcons penalty area. With no forwards in the box there appeared to be no danger but the ball bounced over Dean and into the goal for the equaliser. Then, just five minutes later, a shot from striker James went straight at Dean but his fumble took the ball into the back of the net to put Stonewall 2-1 up. It takes a lot of character to shake off a nightmare period like that and it's to his credit that he then pulled off a terrific save to tip a long-range shot over the bar just moments later.
Half time wasn't one of the more pleasant ones in recent history. We had been slow to everything and, despite outnumbering the opposition in midfield, there always seemed to be one or two players free. We switched the shape slightly for the second half by replacing Andrew with Ben in the hope of forcing a change in fortune.
The second half was a fairly even affair with both teams looking to play balls in behind the defence and use pace to grab a goal. Stonewall's best effort was a shot from James from 20 yards which clipped the top of the bar while the striker was also denied by a last-ditch tackle from Kieran. Olu was put through on goal several times but it seemed that he could never quite get the ball out of his feet to score in the manner we've become accustomed to.
Phil came on to add some calmness and try to retain possession better but it was another free kick from which we found the equaliser. This time it was Pete's cross in from 35 yards which caused the confusion and, in a bit of a scramble, Paddy was the man again to poke the ball home to make it 2-2.
Both teams had late chances to win the game as Phil fired over but the final whistle went and, despite a dodgy performance, we managed to grab a draw.
This was probably the worst team performance from the Falcons in over a year, with decision-making, attitude and communication way off from our usual standards. That said, on another day Dean's fortunes may have been very different and we could have kept a clean sheet, while our ability to keep searching for an equaliser showed some character.
We have a week to sort ourselves out before we return to Barnes for a home game against the newly-named AFC Muswell Hill.
Squad: Dean, Pete, Andrew (Ben, 45), Duncan, Kieran, Cal, Brady, Paddy, Alex (Phil, 65), Matt (Olu, 30), Stevie
Scorers: Paddy (30, 80)