Falcons picked up their first three points of the calendar year in the LUL as they defeated Stonewall on Sunday. Typically, it was a win against the odds with last minute drop outs, lateness, calls around to mates to play and everyone playing out of position. Sunday league at its finest.
Sam Elliot returned to the proper Falcons for the first time this season and proved his worth by getting Mark to turn up just in time for kick off and, about 30 minutes in, Tom. That made up for the initial horror of discovering we only had 9 men, most of who turned up substantially later than the stated meet time of 1230. Time-keeping and Google Maps training are on the agenda!
After some consultation, Ritchie put together a 5-3-1 formation for the ten men, with the intention of packing the middle of the pitch and trying to hit Stonewall on the counter attack. Low and behold it worked extremely well in the first ten minutes as Louis and Mark both scored to make it 2-0.
Stonewall showed they weren’t going to be a pushover by halving the deficit on 20 minutes. After good work down their right and a blocked shot, the ball fell to former Falcon Ian who arrived late in the box to finish in customary fashion.
Fortunately, Falcons were straight up the other end to restore the two goal margin. More good work by Mark saw him release Kieran down the right and the wingback’s low cross saw Louis fail to flick the ball between his legs on his first attempt but the follow-up backheel more than made up for it.
There was time for the usual mess-up at the back to keep us on our toes. Pete’s headed clearance went in the wrong direction and Stonewall's striker Matt lost his marker to finish and make it 3-2.
Fortunately we were up to 11 men by 30 minutes as Tom arrived to add more assurance to the midfield. Louis was very unlucky as he timed a run to perfection, lobbed the ball over the goalkeeper and then saw it bounce over the bar to deny him his first Falcons hat trick. Half time 3-2.
With legs tiring and no substitutes available, the second half was always going to be more of a defensive affair. Stonewall sent a warning shot through when Eamonn struck a powerful header just wide and there was a concerted effort to keep the visitors out of the penalty area for the first ten minutes of the half.
Falcons found their feet as time went on and some swift counter-attacking football created a number of chances for Kieran, Sam and Mark which didn’t quite find the target. Finally, the decisive goal came on 75 minutes when the ball landed at Mark’s feet for his second of the game and the daylight that was badly needed came through at 4-2.
Kevin, who kindly shook off the previous evening’s final night at The Richmond Arms to step in as referee for the day, blew the final whistle and the happy feeling of a victory in the LUL returned for the first time in 2016.
This was a performance that demonstrated just how well a team can do when they pull together, put in challenges, don’t stop running and have no quibble about playing out of position. Kieran, James and Jack all played in slightly unusual positions to the ones they’re used to while Louis did his bit by dropping into midfield when his team needed an extra body in there.
2015/16 was always going to be a bit of a slog after a couple of years of poor recruitment activity but the signs are encouraging as we look ahead to next season. With training starting next month and a number of enquiries about joining Falcons, things bode well with the small matter of a GFSN Cup Final to look forward to on May 29.
Well done all!
Scorers: Louis 2, Mark 2