Falcons overcame a stubborn Bexley team and one of the more bizarre refereeing performances we’ve witnessed to win 3-2 on Sunday.
With the hosts now using Charlton Athletic’s training ground, there was a concern that the astroturf surface might let the ball run on too quickly. However, that was proven incorrect by a high-quality pitch that, if anything, slowed the play down from our usual grass surfaces. Reverting to the shape that finished the previous week’s game against Romans, Paddy was given his first start in midfield while Olu returned to the starting line-up for the first time in a month.
Falcons started brightly without getting a decent effort on goal but then the world descended into weirdness 15 minutes in. Pete chipped a ball over the defence and Olu brought the ball down and calmly slotted the ball into the corner of the net to give Falcons the lead. Or so you would think. As Falcons celebrated and Bexley trudged back to the half way line, the referee inexplicably ruled the goal out, judging that the ball hadn’t crossed the line! Sadly this wasn’t going to be the end of his horror show.
Typically, we switched off at the back a few minutes later and a good ball from the right landed at the feet of their left winger who cut inside and very coolly converted to give the hosts a 1-0 lead.
Falcons huffed and puffed without getting a shot on target throughout the rest of the half while the opposition were content to play on the counter and forced a good save from Conal.
The instructions at half time were quite simple. Keep calm on the ball and move better in order to make the best of the big pitch. And stop moaning (Kieran!)
Things didn’t take long to get better and it was the unpredictable Francesco who again got on the scoresheet. The little Italian showed great energy to burst into the box and he struck with confidence to make it 1-1 after 50 minutes.
The second goal wasn’t far behind as John got his first of the season to give Falcons the lead. This was a tremendous team goal that saw the ball worked across the defence, into midfield and out to Alex who cut inside and threaded a ball through for John to finish well. 2-1 became 3-1 just after the hour mark when a one-two between Alex and Francesco saw the ball chipped over the top of the Bexley defence and this time Olu managed to score without having it ruled out.
Further goals should have followed when Francesco and Olu both failed to convert one on ones with the goalkeeper. As the subs made their way on to the pitch both Alex and Duncan both had curling efforts straight at the goalkeeper.
At the other end things had tightened up impressively with Bexley not getting a sniff in the second half. Jack stepped his position up a few yards which made a big difference and the passing was very good and controlled throughout.
Sadly, the referee was about to wreck the game for a second game. Minutes after he screamed at Kieran for taking a throw-in early, he completed his day by awarding Bexley a goal for a header that was neither over the line or appealed for by the opposition. Falcons were in disbelief by this point and, to top things off, the official abandoned the game eight minutes early, effectively ending the match at a 3-2 win.
It’s a shame that we couldn’t just be talking about a hard-fought game in which the home team played far better than their current league position suggests and Falcons reacted well by dominating the second half. Sadly, it’s the second time this season that we’ve seen a last-minute replacement referee come in and look well out of his depth and, while it’s certainly regrettable that the game finished slightly early, we’re at pains to point out that any complaints to the referee did not come anywhere close to intimidation or insult. Frankly, we’ve seen a heck of a lot worse from some opposition teams this season!
However, back to the players and full credit to them for a splendid second half performance where we dominated possession, territory and chances. After a couple of bumpy weeks we were back to form and, with the news that Romans suffered a late defeat to Soho, it means that the race for the league title is going to be a very competitive one this year.
Post-match we were treated to Sunday dinner left-overs at the Beehive that went down a treat. Next week we’re back at home against Stonewall.
Squad: Conal, Kieran, Pete, Elliot (Andrew 78), Jack, Brady, Paddy, John (Duncan 70), Alex, Francesco, Olu (Abdul 80)
Scorers: Francesco, John, Olu