1st XI

Poly Div 2 Champions 2012-13(1)

2012/13 Senior Division 2 League Champions

Match Report 19 October 2013:

Polytechnic – 3 (“Poly”) v Old Brentwoods – 2 (“OB”) – AFA Senior Cup – 19/10/13

Sponsor – PureGym

Going in to this match, the Poly side was rather depleted with captain Sandy mincing about in Vegas going to “shows”, his ready-made replacement ‘Golden Boy’ Harrison being a late drop out and several other noticeable absentees. Not to worry, the old guard were called in, with a call up for chocco from the vets and coach Brown making the bench. Thankfully, the gods were looking down on the Poly as neither of these options were required.

After an opening day loss the Poly had now won 4 on the trot with a good win over Alexandra Palace last week.  With the new Nike match balls from the Palace game and the pitch looking ‘very reasonable’, spirits were high. Old Brentwoods, while playing in a different league, had form over Poly into this match having won a bruising encounter 2 years ago at Old Brentwoods (by the same scoreline) in a match the writer was punched in the nose by the opposition striker (but honestly all is forgotten and we are good friends now…honestly).

Poly had the better of the early encounters, looking to play nicely out from the back, assisted by a good pitch to do it on which had been moistened by a short burst of rain prior to kick-off. Against the run of play, however, OB scored the opener from a low cross close to the spot and a good control and turn. Poly’s defending should have done more to shut the big striker down but credit has to go to the big man who finished with aplomb. Not to do things in ones, OB got a second 10 minutes later, again from a low cross and a slide shot to the far post. For all of Polys passing and composure on the ball, OB was finding a way through the usually dependable back four.

Bojan, playing in a traditional centre midfield role could have opened Poly’s account on the 35th minute but, in a similar position as his Palace goal, shot wide under only mild pressure. Up until this point the midfield of Tommy L in his Iniesta role, Bojan, Cree, Raji, and GQ looked largely untroubled and were controlling the midfield. OB were soaking up the pressure and showing the Poly how to play away from home trying to protect a 2 goal lead. However, a great team goal was to put an end to this, starting with Ben, GQ and Tommy playing triangles at left back all the way up to Lee who slid a pass to Ramy to shoot nicely low and wide. At this point there were a number of supporters preparing for their later kick-offs, and several of them commented to the writer hat there had been 23 passes in the build up to that goal.

Poly, who were now pressuring and in search of an equaliser, were stopped only by the half time whistle, which seemed to be blown 30 seconds too early.

Second half and it was all Poly early on, a goal mouth scramble and resulting corner failed to produce a 2nd goal but that was fine as Ramy was about to score a screamer of a free kick which was caught on camera and will go on the end of season film. Not surprisingly, Ramy was quite please by this and has been harassing the writer for the video and match report ever since.

Five minutes later Tommy scored after a good run from Ramy down the side who beat the keeper before passing the ball inside – 3-2. It was not long after this when GQ, to his horror (however we all noticed the glint in his eye), was groped in the nether regions by the opposition midfielder. A strange incident to say the least yet one which seemed to satisfy GQs need for close male bonding.

It was wave after wave for the next 10 minutes but Poly failed to deliver the knockout blow with the keeper making some good saves, some goal mouth scrambles and Bojan inexplicably heading over the bar when the net was empty. OB to their credit kept on trying and forced a couple of half chances but nothing which really troubled the Poly keeper.

Just before the final whistle, Raji, was on a break on the edge of our box only to find himself pole-axed by the smallest man in the opposition. Raji hit the deck like a sack of s*%t and seemed momentarily paralysed while the cries from the bench were, “get on the weights Raji”. Unfortunately, this moment was also captured on camera and made for some light entertainment on the poly WhatsApp group later that evening – much to Raji’s chagrin.

Poly seemed far fitter than OBs for this game and seemed to be cruising, not really getting out of 3rd gear for the end of the match. A come from behind win is always good, even better in a cup match. Off to the next round where we have drawn Alexandra Park away.

MOM: Tommy  – well played and well sculled.

Memory of the day: – Ramy’s goal, a screamer.

Quote of the day: – Coach Brown showing his disdain for the music selection “can we change the song, it’s the (censored) same shit song every week”.

If anyone would like commentary of this match and future matches, feel free to go to twitter and @Justin_Creds, who will be commenting on twitter with live feed for the remainder of the season –

Poly Fantasy scores:

Owen – 2
Ben H – 2
Checks – 2
Jit – 2
Ash – 2
Legohead – 9
Bo-Jan – 2
GQ – 2
James C –  2
Lee – 9
Ramy – 16

Match Report 12 October 2013:

Alexandra Park – 0 (“AP”)  v Polytechnic FC – 5 (“Poly”) – League – 12/10/13

Sponsor – PureGym

So, ‘A day to remember’, ‘Will live long in the memory’, ‘A special day for all involved’. These were just some of the cliché statements uttered before, during and after Polytechnic’s special day at Buckingham Palace. It was now time to move on and get..eeer ‘Back to business..’

On Saturday the 12th of October, Polytechnic FC travelled to the scenic climbs of Wembley to face a fierce rival in AP – who would be looking to seek revenge for the final day drama that saw Poly hold on to a nervy 2-2 draw and clinch the title when a loss would have seen AP champions.

The mood on the journey to the ground was slightly pensive considering the club’s exploits earlier in the week, with certain members of the match day squad even mentioning a post-Palace hangover. After arriving at the Preston Manor School ground some 4 hours early, Paul “I Love Defending” Checketts lightened the mood of the travelling Poly by sending back pictures of what can only be described as a personal reconnaissance mission. Why he needed to inspect the girls’ changing facilities so thoroughly before our arrival shall remain a mystery.

Needless to say the facilities left a little to be desired considering what the Poly players had become accustomed to in recent weeks but no one let it phase them aside from ‘Hollywood’ – aka Bo-jan – who seemed slightly rattled by the lack of waiting staff and wide scope lenses.

After some moaning by Jit in the warm up, some wise cracks by Brandford during the stretching and some spitting by Sandy Smith during his usual rousing team talk, it was on to the action. Poly started strongly, dominating the early periods of play. Although marshalled loudly at the back by a rather aggressive centre-half, AP looked a little shaky in possession. Poly’s early dominance told when a slightly mis-hit free kicks (from Tommy L) landed at the feet of James Cree who quickly turned and rattled the top corner from 8 yards. A great finish from Cree, whose early morning addition of a go faster stripe seemed to be paying dividends as he gave the familiar AP full back ‘horrors’.

The Poly added a second when Cree – again down the right side – made light work of beating his full back and delivered a beautiful cross for an inform Ramy Lotfy who seemed to sail through the air in slow motion like a salmon gliding up stream. All he had to do was get any kind of connection with the ball but inexplicably missed it. Luckily, Lee Raji was on hand to turn the ball in neatly past the on rushing keeper.

The midfield trio of Sandy, Bojan and Tommy L were using the ball intelligently whenever they got it and the back four of Jit, Brandfird, Glitter and Ashley were looking solid as a rock. 

The Pure Gym sponsored side added a third just before half time. It came on the back of a rare period of sustained pressure for the north London side where if they had made the most of the dominance and nicked a goal, the game could have been a bit different. Fortunately for the Poly, it was not to be as Lee broke quickly down the left hand side and spotted the marauding run of Sandy in the middle – delivering a low cross for the Scot to tap in from inside the 6 yard box – his speciality.

 The second half saw AP get back in to the game and they were able to have more possession than the Poly without seriously threatening the goal. The back five held strong and Rob was called in to action on a couple of occasions. Notably tipping over a long-range effort that looked destined for the top corner. 

Despite the home side’s increased possession, Poly were the team to get the fourth goal. Raji (again!) twisted his defender inside out on the edge of the oppositions box, got to the by-line and hit a cross – cum – shot, which was turned in by the recent substitute ‘Golden Boy’ Harrison. His goal seemed to anger the opposition as he encountered some rough treatment from then onwards but took it manfully.

Unfortunately, following the fourth goal there was also a rather crude challenge on Nakkers in goal from a corner. In his own words “that was the worst challenge against me in my life”, yet somehow the officials did not notice the big AP centre back barrelling into the Poly number 1 sending him flying into the back of the net, with the ball nowhere to be soon. A very cheap shot but one which Nakkers brushed off easily, safe in the knowledge a clean sheet was not far away.

Shortly after this was the introduction of Barbs (for Cree) and da Cruz (for Lotfy). Within 2 minutes of being on the pitch, Cruz ( following a delightful through ball from Harrison) was clean through on goal, making clean contact with the ball, curving it sweetly round the keeper and also 20 yards wide of the far post. Ivan grumbled about a bobble but there were none in sight…

Another goal almost came after great work from Harrison and later Barbour who laid the ball off to Bo-jan but the local celebrity and future Big Brother star missed from 3 yards. Not ‘very reasonable’ at all and much to the horror of Barbs who duly informed Bo-Jan that he had just cost him 3 fantasy points.

Poly were looking irresistible going forward and knocked the remaining stuffing out of AP with some truly magnificent wing play. After neat work in the middle from Harrison and Tommy L, Bo-jan found the on rushing Ashley Barrett on the edge of the 18 yard box. The full back curled in a Beckham-esq cross which Lee Raji managed to get his head in the way of – floating the ball over the keeper and that was that in terms of goals. There were reports of chants of “There’s only oooooone Ashley Barrett” from Geoff Brown on the touchline*.

Overall a good day out for the Poly and with only two other teams being in action we moved 2 points clear – UTP!!

MOM: There were several outstanding candidates with James Cree, Tommy L, Nakkers and Raji all putting a good case forward, however, due to the lack of watering holes in the immediate vicinity we were unable to conduct a post match vote.

Highlights of the day: One linesman running up and down the full length of the pitch and the other running 10 metres on the pitch – interesting to say the least.

Quote of the day: from the habitually late Checketts “Do I get a rebate for being early”

*Mr Barrett being the author of this report.

Poly Fantasy scores:

Rob – 9
Jit – 6
Checks – 6
GQ – 5
Ash – 9
Legohead – 7
Bo-Jan – 3
Sandy – 7
James C –  17
Lee – 15
Ramy – 2
Graham H – 6
Ivan -1
Barbs – 1

Match Report 7 October 2013:

Civil Service (‘CC’) 1 v Polytechnic FC (‘Poly’) 2 – game played at Buckingham Palace

On a day that will forever be lodged in everyone’s memory that was there, the Poly needed no encouragement from Gaffer Geoff (“GG”) to understand that the biggest game of most people’s lives was about to take place and anything but a good performance, on and off the pitch, was an absolute must and if possible, 3 points. On purely footballing reasons alone the Poly had good reason to feel positive today on the back of 2 wins and hoping for 3 in a row, an occurrence that hasn’t happened for the Poly in the top league since the 2009/2010 season. The CC for their part were looking to turn around a season that had started in stutters, but with it being their big day and 150th birthday, were always going to be up for this one. The bookies, namely Bwin.com (and I am actually serious this time) had CC as favourites with the Poly paying a generous £3.80 for a win.

The day started by meeting at the Poly where Poly ties were bought by all. The German media had gotten the jump on the world and were there interviewing players and filming some general nakedness in the changing rooms. Surreally, the Poly were actually used to this by now and it wasn’t a distraction at all, when the players were called in by GG to kit up and get ready, the Poly knew this day was fundamentally about 3 points.  It was then off to the Palace where we drove in through the front gates to, I kid you not, people taking photos and waving to the players in the bus. The CC for their part in their bus looked nervous, the Poly didn’t, a sign of things to come perhaps?

As expected, HRH Prince William, Duke of Cambridge (and future King of New Zealand, and England) met and took photos with the Poly before the game, and I kid you not again, Howard Webb then blew for the game to start. The Poly were in control for the first 20. Tommy L was pulling the strings in a deep lying Iniesta role and Lee was getting good purchase on his running down the right, Bojan and Capt. Sandy were bossing around the trenches in the middle and Cree was holding his man on the right. The back four of Jit, Checketts, GQ and Ash were steady and surprisingly calm in playing the ball out from the back. Ramy was his usual energetic self up front. Rob was untroubled but, after playing with the man for 3 years, was displaying his best kicking performance for a long time. For all the good work though, the first 30 didn’t produce any goals and CC, realising that the Poly were lacking the killer punch in the final 3rd, started to get back into the match. Just when it looked to be evening up, a short pass from Lee to an angled run from Sandy saw Sandy cut back from the line to former tennis coach and hand model, now media personality, Bojan to slot the ball high and hard into the back of the net to go one up ( see here at .55 seconds for the goal http://news.sky.com/story/1151439/buckingham-palace-hosts-first-football-match). Half time blew, HRH was off to his coaching on the side, the butlers with their tail coats and silver trays were on for half time refreshments of oranges, mars bars (which the supporters devoured as Capt. Sandy had threatened the very lives of those players who dared to take one) juice and water (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2448791/Prince-William-wears-Wayne-Rooneys-boots-Buckingham-Palace-football-match.html).

The second half was a more closely fought affair and had it not been for the cat like reflexes in goal of Nakkers the game could have easily been tied just after the break. Some sloppy play by the Poly gave possession away on the edge of the box whicxh resulted in a thunderous, top corner bound shot for CC which Nakkers, at full stretch, tipped over the bar much to the relief of Poly supported and HRH himself. The game ebbed and flowed with both teams having a few half chances to score until finally the Poly doubled their advantage on the 70th minute. Tommy L played a lovely through ball to Raji down the left flank which was cut back across the box to recent arrival of Graham Harrison. A delicate back heel took 3 CC defenders out of the game leaving a simple tap in for Capt. Sandy. CC called a team huddle after the goal which proved their making, their 1st goal followed 5 minutes letter to lead into a nervous last 15 mins for the Poly. Checketts came up with a big game play, heading the ball when to not have done so would have been a certain goal for a CC striker, corner after shot then followed for the CC, broken only by the introduction of Joe and Barbs. The final whistle eventually blew and a relieved and proud Poly high fived all around. 3 points, second on the table and memories forever in the bag.

It was then off to the CC for an after match function. Howard Webb caught a lift with the Poly and showed how nice a guy he was in answering questions and giving anecdotes of his time to date as the world’s best referee and the CC provided a delightful selection of food and good beer to ensure a pleasant end to the day.

This day was not about the Poly though, it was about 150 years of the FA and CC being the sole remaining club who literally wrote the rules. History will record it as such. The Poly were guests… but guests history should also remember the Poly as courteous to HRH, sporting and humble in victory, giving of time to the media and supporters and above all, winners and first goal scorers on the day for the only time a match has been played on the history of the world’s most hallowed of turf (if one was to believe the British Empire the biggest empire the world ever saw and Buckingham Palace its biggest icon of course).

Special thank you to Poly’s sponsors Pure Gym who hopefully got plenty of coverage and special thanks to GG, Barry M, Bojan and all of the Poly members who ran around making sure the day could be possible.

Finally, at going to press Barry M received a letter of thanks from HRH, I quote from Barry “I’ve just received a thank you letter from HRH for the baby banner for Prince George and sending us his best wishes. He said he thoroughly enjoyed the event and that it was a fantastic match and sends many congratulations to the team on the win.”

UTP!

MOM: Tommy L – as decided by Mr Webb

Player ratings – everyone got a 5/5 today, even Carl for his water boy duties.

Player profileshttp://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/10359772/Polytechnic-Football-Club-who-are-the-players.html

Funniest call of the day:

GG to striker Ramy who, much to GG’s chagrin, had not pressured the keeper “Gamble Ramy!!!” Graham Burke, 2s player and all round funny man, with reference to Bwins odds and the Poly supporters’ subsequent laying of bets “to be fair Geoff, we’re all gambling back here.”

Pictures and media coverage of the day: http://polytechnicfc.co.uk/civil-service-fc-vs-polytechnic-fc-buckingham-palace-71013/

 

Match Report 28 September 2013:

Polytechnic FC 5(‘Poly’) v Old Parkonians 3(‘OP’) – 28 September 2013

 

This week’s visitors were struggling at the bottom of the table but having stayed up the previous year, were obviously keen to get their season’s first win against the Poly. The Poly for their part were up for the challenge having made the bookies a few quid with their upset of the round win last week, but at the same time, looking to play with the fluidity that has been missing so far. The day did not start well though when the players realised they would be wearing green tops with red socks, however, this combo was right up Checketts alley and he was chuffed with this mis-matching combination.

Special mention must go to Ramy, for his first start as a Poly man, playing up front in the lone striker role, supported by Lee on the left and Carl on the right flank, Bojan, Captain Sandy and Tommy L in the middle and last week’s back 4 starting as they finished, with Jit, Checketts, GQ and Ash from left to right. Rob was in goal, of course.

If one was to come in 2 minutes late (such as the writer), then one would have missed the opening goal, but from what I have been told, OP gave possession away too easily just outside their area where Ramy pounced. After rounding a few players, the temptation to keep going for goal subsided and a perfect lay off to Carl resulted in the ball flying into the the far top corner leaving the keeper no chance. Despite the early good start, the game ebbed and flowed for the next 20-30 minutes. OP for their part seemed well organised if not that threatening going forward, but they were with a good shape and essentially trying to hit their very good striker and left winger on the counter.  

OP’s plan worked so well that their two mentioned players worked together for OP’s first goal in the 30th minute, in sum – long ball to left winger, cross to the striker and a good control and volley inside the box which the centre backs should have gotten closer to and a shot Rob watched go through his hands to the horror of the supporters on the side line. It was 1-1 and this was not the script Prince William would want to read in next week’s Palace game.

The game edged its way to the break with no team really showing dominance, before the Poly hit back before the break though with a screamer and early contender for goal of the season, in sum: cross from Lee to the back of the box, a nod back from Carl from the other side to Ramy just inside the box, who then proceeded to what can only be described as a horizontal bicycle come drive which had perfect pace and curve to sneak in under the bar.

 

Then came the second half.

OP equalised after roughly 10 minutes with a great half turn and then strike from the corner of the box that Rob had no chance of saving (proving that every team in this grade will have someone that can literally pull goals out of the bag) and which would have been goal of the day but for said bicycle kick. Poly went 3-2 up 5 mins later though with a Carl penalty after Sandy was felled in the box (and he doesn’t go down lightly).  

James Cree then entered the fold, following a booking for Ramy, eager to push his case for a start at the Palace, and what an impact he made. Within a few minutes he had scored with a very cool finish and laid the ball on the plate for last year’s top scorer Lee to calmly slot home. Both goals were created after some impressive build up play down the flanks which saw it 5-2 by the 70th minute.

 

OP pulled one back 10 mins later through a cross and shot after good build up play but Poly controlled the remainder of the match, showing signs that a good preseason and Wednesday sessions were paying off, in terms of fitness and an ability to keep playing football until the final whistle.

Well done too to Barbs and Joe, causing pain to OP when they came on… leaving everyone knowing that places are still up for grabs at the Palace. It has been almost 3 years since the Poly had such depth on the bench in the top league.

Final whistle went, the Red (green on this particular day) Army cheered the home team off, and it was up to the player’s lounge for food and drinks. On balance, not perfect by any means but a better game for the Poly than last week’s against good opposition and Poly can rightly think they are going in the right direction, but knowing they are not there quite yet,  into what will be most players’ game of their lives at Buckingham Palace. The writer speaks for everyone who will not be on the pitch when he wishes both the Poly and Civil Service the best of luck and hopes they play a game to remember.

Civil Service v Polymatch preview: this is easy, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-23932693

MOM: Carl, who promised everyone an early night in after downing his beer in good Irish fashion

Poly Fantasy scores:

Rob – 1
Jit – 1
Checks – 1
GQ – 1
Ash – 1
Legohead – 6
Bo-Jan – 2
Sandy – 5
Carl –  15
Lee – 11
Ramy – 9
James – 9
Joe -1
Barbs – 1

Player pass completion rate ratings (out of 5):

Rob: n/a
Jit:3
Checks: 3
GQ:4
Ash: 3
Tom:4.5
Bojan:4
Sandy:3.5
Carl:4
Lee:3
Ramy:3 

 Match Report 21 September 2013: 
Winchmore Hill 0 Polytechnic 1 

Going into the days battle Winchmore Hill, last year’s runners up, were riding high after beating last season’s champions Nottsborough in their previous game. After a long journey up to North London, the Poly were there nice and early (except Checkett’s, who had his £5 late fee in hand as he entered the changing shed) and raring to go. There was a general hum about the day’s squad with over 25 players attending the mid week training, places for the Buckingham Palace game up for grabs, everyone excited about the start of the season and a general feeling that amends needed to be made following a belief that at least 1, if not 3, points were lost against West Wickham in the opening game of the season.

Captain Fantastic Sandy’s pre match rousing was reminiscent of a Scottish call to arms, and we were sufficiently pumped for the battle ahead.

A couple of fierce early challenges that Justin and Jit got the better of and some sustained pressure in the midfield meant the first 10 were the Poly’s, a stark contrast to the previous week. GQ was shielding the back 4 like a knight protecting its king, Lancaster was turning his opponent and Bojan and Sandy were getting some good go forward. It was all going so well that the Poly scored in the 15th minute. Some neat build up play between Justin and GQ, resulted in Carl playing a delicious ball into the path of the deadly assassin Raji, who dispatched the ball into the back of the net with aplomb (although some would argue this point). 1-0 could have been 2-0 five minutes later from another Carl/Raji interchange, but Raji shot just wide.

After the early excitement for the Poly, it was becoming more the Winchmore Hill show than the Poly parade. Winchmore were playing the ball nicely from their defence to the midfield, but not quite linking up with their nippy wide men in any decent positions. Checketts and Jit were doing well to stop a very experienced centre forward who had obviously played that position for a while and knew exactly what he wanted to do, which was to flick on the wide men or drop short for the midfield to make the diagonal ball.

Tragedy occurred in the 40th minute when crowd favourite Justin (writing this report), fresh from his season off through injury, mysteriously went down on attack with the ball and with no one around. An exclusive Poly interview after the game revealed that Justin thought he had been hit with a cricket ball, a team interview afterwards thought he was diving…the St George’s A and E doctor confirmed he had snapped a ligament and shouldn’t think about walking properly for 6 months.

A reshuffle was in order, with the lover of all things Kiwi, James Cree coming on at left midfield. This meant that the mecurial Brandford was forced back into a postion he coverts dearly, centre back, where he and the rest of the back line were forced to face a barrage from Winchmore Hill for the remaining 50 minutes. We made it through to the half without showing Winchmore too much of our goal apart from a sitter, caused from our own making. With the goal at Winchmore’s mercy, the striker managed to blaze high and wide from a mere 6 yards, a real let off for the Poly.

After some heated exchanges at the interval, not much changed on the field in the second half. The Poly never really played with the fluency of the first 20 minutes of the game and were repelling wave after wave of Winchmore Hill attacks, usually starting from a twinkle toed centre midfielder. In defence to the Poly, except for one good chance, Winchmore Hill never really looked like tearing the defensive unit apart and Lotfy, a substitute for Bojan who put in a good shift as usual, even went close for a couple at the end after his refreshingly hard running in defence and goal at all costs mentality.

A late red card at the end couldn’t deny the Poly 3 points and it was fist pumps and high fives all around for the upset of the round and a deserved 3 points, at least on the basis of determination to hold on for the win, if not for out playing a very good Winchmore Hill team.

What is clear is that we will need to up our game in the coming weeks if we want to put on a show at the Palace.

UTP!!

Man of the Match – Checketts, who quoted after winning ‘I enjoy it more when we are defending

After match food rating –sausage, beans and chips – not bad, good selection of sauces 3.5/5

Bojan’s pre match music – good until Justin Timberlake came on – 3/5

Season Review

Skipper: Geoff Brown

Player of the Year: Sandy Smith

Following a dissapointing season the year before, being relegated from the top division after a solid 5 years, we were determined to put that right and bounce back with immediate promotion. This all started pre-season with a big drive on recruitment. This saw an influx of quality talent flood the top two sides and the future looked bright. 

Pre-season saw some good results and attractive football as players quickly began to gel and get used to playing with each other. The season started in a sluggish fashion where we were lucky to score 2 goals in the last 5 minutes to win 4-3 over Carshalton, an important victory considering they finished one place outside the relegation zone. This result was courtesy of two debutants coming on as late substitutions; with the speedy Hetherington scoring the 3rd and the trickery of Morris providing the final delivery for the lethal Raji to convert.

The next few games saw a win, draw and 4-1 loss to the hands of our rivals Actonians. This result was a travesty, resulting in Actonians apologising to us after the game. Although, this was the result that appeared to turn our season around, along with the return of our inspirational and tireless captain Sandy Smith and debutant Paul Roberts.

The arrival of Smith and Roberts on the scene, combined with the rock solid defence unit of Nakkers, Harris, Checketts, Brandford, Shergill and Bojan just in front, allowed our creative players to flourish. Lancaster and Raji were scoring goals for fun with Mcinerney swinging in delightful balls (when he was not busy arguing with the opposition). This lead to a league run, beginning with a 4-0 victory over Ally Pally (our eventual league rivals), of 8 wins on the trot, scoring 33 goals and conceding only 5.

League leaders for most of the season, we ran into some difficulty with two losses on the trot, away to Crouch End Vampires and home to BB eagles. We quickly avenged the loss to BB Eagles, beating them 4-0 at their place in what was our best performance of the season, ending any hope they had of winning the league. This performance was not able to be built upon as a run of byes and poor weather saw us play only 1 game in six weeks. 

Eventually we got some games under our belt but had already fallen behind Ally Pally in the league after they had picked up maximum points following our defeat of them earlier on. Although promotion was already secured, this was not enough and we wanted the league aswell. A tough couple of games against Carshalton and Actonians (the latter producing potentially the goal of the season from Roberts) saw us pick up 6 points and, with results going our way, meant we only needed 1 point from our last game to win the league. This game was a title decider, at home, against Ally Pally.

Conditions were terrible for football, windy and bobbly – but we were confident we could win, especially with the support of the 2nd team from the sidelines. Heading into the wind in the first half, two fantastic goals from Raji (courtesy of Smith assists) put us in charge until a terrible referring decision at the end of the first half. Safe hands Rob had not dropped a ball all season until being blatantly taken out by the opposing striker which the referee missed. Cue a goal mouth scramble and the eventual goal making it 2-1 on the stroke of half time.

The second half was poor with the quality of football poor and some wasteful finishing from both teams. Ally Pally drew level with 15 minutes to play and things were getting tense. It was time for fresh legs and the introduction of Barbour and Hetherington gave us some extra defensive qualities. However, these leges were no match for a long throw which caused all sorts of problems in our box, the ball fell to their striker who swivelled and shot. Ally Pally were celebrating on the sideline, but prematurely as the oustanding Nakielny pulled off the save of the season. 2 minutes later the final whistle went and we were not only promoted at the first attempt but league champions.

Cup wise, things did not go according to plan with an early exit in the AFA Senior cup to Broomfield and a quarter final defeat in the Middlesex and Essex cup to Old Meadonians.

Overall it was a fantastic season and really pleasing to see new faces down at the club along with the old guard putting in fantastic performance week in and week out. This was also helped by the great team spirit across both the 1s and 2s squad which was seen on the pitch and off the pitch socially.

Next season is a big step up and in order to keep our spot in the league and challenge for silverware, we are going to have to work extremely hard pre-season and be fit and rearing to go come 7 September – bring it on.

Up the Poly.

Brownie

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