Last minute rescue!
A last minute free kick from Alex rescued a point against Romans as last season's top two drew 2-2 in Barnes.
The non-stop changes to our squad this season brought us the return of Ed (injured since the first game) at rightback, Olu to the wing and Will to the bench. However, we were without Andrew and Rob who departed on their holidays earlier in the weekend, while Kieran and Paddy's illnesses saw them miss out alongside Stevie.
For their part, Romans had a worry about fielding a team but this appeared to be resolved by match day, even affording themselves the luxury of dropping a couple of their own players to the bench to make way for Stephen and Adam from Stonewall.
After transport issues delayed everyones arrival and Jimmy finished having the longest pee in human history, we were ready to go - the players available dictating a simple 4-4-2 formation.
The opening exchanges were fairly even with a well-contested opening 20 minutes seeing chances for both teams. However, it was Falcons who grabbed the lead as a throughball from Abdul on the right found Cal charging through into the area and he continued his strong record playing upfront by making no mistake.
Our season of injuries reared its ugly head as Jack's hamstring gave out on half an hour, which was disappointing after his tough-tackling start, and Will replaced him at leftback. Romans started to pose more of a threat by halftime and had an excellent opportunity to equalise when Jay rounded Matt but his shot hit the outside of the post.
The start of the second half brought another unfortunate injury as Will's groin meant his return only lasted 20 minutes. Pete replaced him.
It's fair to say Romans were very much the better team in the second half. There were a couple of chances for Jay on the opposition team before a bit of a scramble in the area saw the striker backheel the ball into the net to make it 1-1.
Falcons had a half-chance to go back in front when Alex broke through, Olu crossed in from the left and Cal's shot went over the bar. However, it was the visitors with the momentum behind them and it looked like they'd done enough when, with five minutes to go, Craig went through and squeezed the ball between Matt's legs to go 2-1 up.
That might have been enough to sink some teams but we like to battle to the end and got our reward albeit with a goal of some fortune. Alex hit a freekick 35 yards out from the right touchline and the ball sailed over the unfortunate goalkeeper to make it 2-2 with the very last kick of the game.
Needless to say, there was a lot of frustration on the Romans side at not holding on for the win and this boiled over outside the changing rooms, with the referee being subjected to a volley of abuse which saw a player pick up a red card.
This was far from our best performance of the season. However, with the pressure of a title challenge removed, it was another opportunity for players to stake their claim for a regular position in the starting line-up and there were certainly some encouraging signs. One notable area for improvement is our fitness, which has dropped off since the two sides last met a year ago.
Next week we face Stonewall before heading north for the return leg with the Romans.
Squad: Matt, Ed, Duncan, Alex, Jack (Will 30 (Pete 50)), Jimmy, Brady, Olu, Abdul, Cal, Chris
Scorers: Cal (20), Alex (90)