Binfield Bullets 0 Ashridge Park 3
40 mins: 0-1 (Adam Williams)
64 mins: 0-2 (Adam Williams)
90 mins: 0-3 (Toni Baciu)
Star Player: Adam Williams
It was very thoughtful of the home team to move the game from its normal pitch, so that we could combine football with a walk-in flu jab clinic, although it did take slightly longer to track and trace the venue. But once there, it was a nice pitch behind a spanking new school.
At the time of writing, I think we are in tier 1. I have looked at the rules and that means I am not allowed to do any household chores, cannot share the TV remote and am required to eat Doritos Roulette with my glass of wine at 6.00 pm.
Graham had a squad of 15 on a bright chilly morning, and against a team with one or two hefty looking players.
We picked up where we left off after last week’s fantastic performance and had the better of the opening exchanges, passing the ball nicely, although without creating any clearcut chances. Always a danger when that happens, because Binfield upped their game and started to press. A ball crossed into the area from the left sliced off our defence into the path of one of their strikers. The shot didn’t have much power, but a combination of a deflection and the post kept it out. No idea how. Then a break down our right flank fell into the path of their left winger. He really got hold of it from a tightish angle and Joe needed strong wrists and a dive to turn it round for a corner.
Ebb and flow, and we clawed our way back on top. Jack G (Gillingham, not Grealish) nearly scored a spectacular attempt, just over from 20 yards. That was followed by two good efforts from Ice and Sachin.
Then the breakthrough – one of the best goals I have ever seen at this level. One of the hallmarks of a top side is how hard they work when they don’t have the ball. So if anyone says that players are so good they can afford simply to stroll around the pitch, my response is that may occasionally happen. But rarely. For example, Iniesta, Xavi, etc were fantastically skilful players, and part of one of the best sides I have ever seen, when Spain were dominant around the mid 2010s. But their work-rate was phenomenal, and I doubt they would have been picked on their skill alone. The same goes for Klopp’s and Pep’s teams. So it’s great to see Ashridge fighting for the ball when out of possession, exemplified by a tremendous tackle by Tony to win the ball in the opposition half – probably 30-70 against him.
Exemplified also by Sachin who lost the ball mid-way inside the Binfield half. Did he shrug his shoulders and give up? No he didn’t. He hunted the player down and won the ball back. Then he chipped a delightful ball forward into the box in the right-hand channel. The ball was controlled by Adam on his chest, and as it dropped, he spun and hit it first time into the corner of the net. An absolute peach of a finish, but not possible without Sachin’s graft. 0-1 40 mins.
Just before the break, one of their players was pole-axed by Marcus, who was given a lecture by the ref. That possibly set the tone for the second half, but 0-1 at HT.
The incident clearly fired Binfield up, and they started the second half strongly. We somehow managed to keep them out with good cover in front of Joe. Then there was a nasty late challenge on James who had to limp off.
It was slightly confusing to see one of their subs come on wearing a hi-viz bib. I can only imagine he had left his shirt at home, and the COVID rules don’t allow kit to be borrowed. At one stage it looked like a spectator had run onto the pitch and joined the game. [GA: he was Binfield's other keeper and had only brought his goalie shirt, the Binfield manager informed me and the ref at the start and we agreed it was ok. Might have helped if I'd remembered to tell the players though!].
Then we won a corner on the right that was pinged into the box by Tony, and Adam headed in from 6 yards. 0-2 on 64 mins.
This was followed by an unnecessary “tackle” from behind that brought Felix down – he leapt to his feet and squared up. I thought he was going to chin the guy in the melee that followed, but fortunately he didn’t. However it was all getting rather tasty, as they say. Indeed a few moments later Alex did extremely well to leap out of the way of another two-footed lunge that would have seen him join James on the sidelines had it connected.
It was end to end stuff in the final quarter, with Binfield hitting the outside of the post with a decent curling effort, and Tony slicing wide, some terrific first time crosses from the right from Ice (really tricky to defend), who then smashed one from an angle which produced a very good save from their keeper.
Pretty much the final action was a tidy finish by Tony after Adam's effort from Ice's cross had been saved. 0-3 at full time.
Overall a tremendous team effort. Once again, everyone put in a shift for Graham and for one another. And as Graham mentioned in the post-match de-brief, credit also to the boys for their restraint in the face of some aggressive challenges and verbals. In the professional game, there is no way there would have been 22 players on the pitch at the final whistle.
This was a very decent performance once we got ourselves going. Whilst Binfield might count themselves unlucky with two shots hitting the woodwork, we actually presented them with their best opportunities with some strange defensive mix-ups, whilst on clear-cut chances created we were miles ahead and could easily have doubled our tally with some more incisive finishing. Indeed we got so far on top of the game that the opposition's frustrations boiled over, and one of their players apparently even went home in the middle of the second half! So I was pleased that we kept our heads and made our point with our football.
Good contributions today from Sachin in the centre of midfield and Ice wide on the right - several balls of the very highest quality played into the danger area. But a most deserving man-of-the-match award goes to Adam who demonstrated all the attributes of a good centre forward: strong hold up play, bringing the midfield into play, powerful in the air and finishing of the highest order.