Falcons kicked off 2017 with a strong 3-1 victory over Romans House and a hat trick for Olu.
Having not played for ten weeks, the boys were desperate to get back on the pitch, although the enthusiasm faded a little as they discovered a quarter of it was still frozen half an hour before kick-off. Fortunately, a bit of sunshine and a lot of warm-up activity on the patch in question helped to soften the ground up just enough to avoid any chance of a postponement.
For the first time this season the manager was able to field an unchanged defence while Elliot made his first appearance as a striker – proof that nagging does pay off in the end! Dean stepped in for Conal in goal while Stevie made his Falcons debut from the bench.
We started well, calmly passing the ball around the pitch with not too much in the way of pressure from the Romans boys. In fact, the first half was quite the dominating affair as Dean didn’t even touch the ball until the 40 minute mark. It took a while for the first goal to come but there was an element of farce about it when it did arrive. Olu had sent in a few testing corners from the right but when he hit a particularly poor one that floated in slowly to the near post, both the goalkeeper and defender left it to each other and the ball ended up in the net on 15 minutes.
A corner also presented Olu with his second goal. There was a bit of a goalmouth scramble involved but Falcons showed the determination to win difficult balls and the left winger prodded home to make it 2-0 on 30 minutes.
Elsewhere, Brady decided to have some fun with a five minute Showboat highlight reel that brought some excitement to the sidelines. Jack and Kieran supported the attacks well from fullback while Elliot led the line well up front. Stevie and Paddy made their way onto the pitch as Olu and John were given a rest but we weren’t quite able to extend our lead before half time despite a number of opportunities.
So, all good so far and very much a case of asking for more of the same during the break as John re-entered the game to give Alex a break.
The first 15 minutes of the second half featured a precession of missed chances as both shots and headers failed to extend the scoreline. Dean, obviously bored at the other end, decided to keep things lively by wandering out of his area with the ball in his hands. The referee, who did officiate the game in a very good manner, was fortunately facing the other way at the time.
The third goal finally came after 70 minutes. Paddy played an absolute beast of a throughball to Alex who darted in from the right wing. His low shot was well saved by the goalkeeper but Olu was right on hand to complete his hat trick with a simple tap-in.
So, only one job left in the game: Keep a clean sheet and Pete would have to honour his promise to buy pizzas for the whole team, Ranieri-style. Dean made a comfortable save and a free kick hit the wall as the game entered its final stages and it looked for all the world like Domino’s for everyone… Then, with the very final action of the game, Manor House capitalised on some misplaced passes, broke down the Falcons left and their striker hit an unerring shot into the roof of the net. The final whistle went straight after and the manager kept money in his wallet but missed out on what would have been the icing on the cake.
It’s a measure of our standards that there was an air of disappointment at the final whistle but this was as comprehensive a performance as Falcons have put in this season. Lots of chances missed and only a couple of shots on our goal reflected the dominance of our display. We also know we can play better and work on our stamina more – an encouraging sign as we look to the second half of the season.
Post-match, we had the joy of watching Brady, Elliot and John go through agony and ecstacy at the end of the Arsenal game, which then led on to a the usual extended drinking through to the early hours, beautifully documented on SnapChat by Alex.
Up next is a home match against Titans Two Brewers, who will be looking for revenge after a 5-3 defeat earlier in the season.
Squad: Dean, Kieran, Pete, Andrew (Ritchie, 75), Jack, Brady (c), John (Paddy, 30), Alex, Francesco, Olu (Stevie, 30), Elliot
Subs: Stevie, Paddy, Ritchie
Scorers: Olu (15, 30, 70)