While in Kent some places had seen a snowfall of 5-10cm, the groundsman from Balham Blazers in South London found their pitch suitable to play. With some delays we finally arrived in Wimbledon. Since the Christmas break we had not played yet, so all were very keen to get going again. The referee however thought differently. He rightly noticed that the pitch was in a very bad state and called the match off. After some consultation with the various officials and after a 30 minute delay, he reluctantly blew his whistle for kick off.
Tommy and Floris were rested this week and James was injured. And our captain, Alex Pincott, is currently undergoing a trial at Fulham FC; a fantastic opportunity for him and we all wish him well, but it does create some gaps in midfield. However, we have dual signed Conor Driscoll (currently playing for the U13's KYL team) and he is very happy to help out wherever he can.
We faced the Blazers a few times before and although they have some very strong players, Sevenoaks beat them at home a few months ago. Looking at our standing in the league, a must-win match.
Sevenoaks started well. Despite the difficult conditions the boys managed to show some good football and already in the first minute Eddie created a first goal scoring opportunity but the ball only just hit the bar. All the pressure came from Sevenoaks the first couple of minutes, a Blazer’s corner however in the fourth minute made our defenders aware of their important role as well. Riley managed to clear the ball after some chaotic scenes in front of our goal. Piers took the ball from inside our own half and with his usual speed quickly left some of the Balham defenders gasping for their breath. He crossed the ball to Eddie and his shot on goal was impossible for the keeper to save. 0-1
The Blazers stepped up a notch and created some opportunities. Our boys in the back worked hard and even the odd shot on our goal proved no real problems for Danny either.
In the 15th minute, after great build up from Conor, back to Jay, a cross to Harry, found Conor again, who then saw the space Eddie had created. Eddie strong as ever saw his chance and his shot on goal was cleared by one of the Balham defenders. The ball however landed in front of Tristan and from a good distance his shot was unstoppable. 0-2
The boys from Sevenoaks felt there was more to come and Will skilfully flicked the ball on to Piers, his shot went just wide. Archie’s shot from a distance only narrowly went over the bar.
The half time whistle came exactly on the 30th minute. 'A comfortable lead but keep the concentration.’ Sam’s message was clear. The pitch became even muddier.
The start of the second half was more or less a continuation of the first. Straight away, the boys showed some textbook football. With Conor as the pivot in midfield, the ball was passed around via Finn, Jay and Joe and it looked like we were playing on 3G in spring! Only when Will received the ball and skilfully dribbled passed the Balham goalie we realised the conditions were far from easy. The Blazers' penalty area was a pig's heaven and although Will found himself facing an open goal the ball was sliding just wide of the left post.
Shortly after, the Blazers found an opening after a lapse in concentration and one of their attackers took his chance with a shot on goal. 1-2
The boys from South London found some well needed strength and the following minutes proved tough for our defenders. It was Archie who gave us some breathing space. After some nice one twos with Conor, Archie as well tried his luck with a shot from some distance and with surgical precision the ball landed once more between the posts. 1-3
A long fifteen more minutes on the clock. Pressure from all angles and our boys in the back fought like lions. Again a great save from Danny, Balham could not break the Sevenoaks concrete wall. However, the Blazers realised the game was far from over when their striker picked up the ball from a goal kick and in a one on one situation with Danny slotted the ball in the net. 2-3
Sevenoaks kept their cool and in the dying minutes of the match even created some more goal scoring opportunities. The final whistle came as relief. A well deserved win and a great start to the new year.