The weather on Saturday 4th February was unusually calm; the Thames air serenely flowing across Riverside Lands. This good weather fiercely juxtaposed Old Meads III’s turbulent start to 2017, which has seen them hurtle ever closer to the division’s trap door. Saturday’s visitors were Hamptonians II, who had soundly beaten their hosts on Matchday One of the new year.
Player rotation was forced upon Coach Taylor this week, who himself failed a midweek fitness test with an ongoing rib problem. Centre Back Alder was away enjoying single life, leaving Charlie and Ben to hold together the centre of defence.
Things started steadily enough for Meads against a team showing large changes in personnel themselves from the previous match-up; Kearney’s pace was causing problems on the right wing in particular, but to little avail.
Shot-shy Meads were shown the value of taking a punt half an hour in, when a Hamptonians strike 20 yards out was parried out to the visitors’ forward (who successfully gambled on the impact of the sun on Meads’ keeper’s vision) following in a shot that Meads’ left-back Catlow wrongly elected not to. 0-1.
Misery was compounded by the hosts; silent-but-deadly CB Charlie limped off, and his partner Ben was limping around also. But not only did Meads soldier through to half time without an increased deficit – parity could well have been restored. Kearney locked onto a midfield through ball, and was felled inside the Hamptonians’ box. The referee, some 30 yards away, instantly blew but was put off by the sun’s glare as to the exact location of the sporting crime – and, thus, a free kick was incorrectly awarded. The resulting strike was hit well but comfortably dealt with; HT, 0-1.
Mercurial talent Edison Zajmi entered proceedings after the break, and instantly caused problems for the visiting back line, who themselves began to struggle with the sun’s glare that beamed towards their goal. An intricate one-two on the edge of the sun-swathed penalty box presented Zajmi with a rare sight on goal, which wasn’t converted.
Meads continued to make all the running in what was a strong second 45, with Wilson and Deniau switching the plan with increasing impetus. Set pieces were won in the final third, but again not converted – and the sucker punch arrived on 90 minutes when a well-blocked Hamptonians strike looped innocuously into the air, dead centre, 25 yards from goal. A Yeboah-esque thunderbastard of a volley then sailed into the home side’s net, and another loss-to-nil was confirmed.
An improved performance yes, but a slow start and lack of attempts on goal again cost Meads in this encounter. A blend of ruthlessness and concentration will be required to stop the rot on Eltham soil this weekend.
RESULT: OLD MEADONIANS III 0-2 OLD HAMPTONIANS II