In the last game against this lot we just about beat them (despite some very dodgy lino decisions) thanks to a last minute winner from Daz. The other teams around us had been putting a few past Dacian recently so we would be hoping to do the same, both for goal difference and to ensure we actually won a game on our home pitch!
We started with the same team as we did last week except I dropped myself to the bench for Tom, who deserved a start after his heroics against East Brighton Eagles.
The first 15 or so minutes weren't great from us but they were absolutely terrible from our opposition so there was no need to panic. We looked sluggish and the passing was often quite wayward. There was also a bit too much fancy stuff being tried when it would perhaps have been a better idea to get the ball under control before trying flicks and first time balls. We gradually eased our way into the game and confidence grew as we did so. Tom had a couple of half chances that he snatched at, but soon opened the scoring when Lee got put in down the left before delivering a pinpoint cross to the back post, where the big man was waiting to side-foot the ball past the helpless keeper into the opposite side of the goal from a tight angle.
Lee was seeing a lot of action out wide and was often beating his man easily, on one occasion with a lovely dummy before turning and running onto the ball. I did notice that he could have been put in a lot more but either his lack of a shout for the ball or the ball holder's lack of vision meant we missed the chance to do so quite a few times.
At the back we looked comfortable, it became clear early on that our opponents weren't going to be offering much in the way of attacks, and when they did manage to turn us around the defence made light work of putting a tackle in to see them off. We haven't had the same back line play successive games for a while before this game, and it showed that they worked well as a unit. Craig declared before the game that he enjoyed playing with George in the middle so watch this space for potentially our first team wedding.
It wasn't long before we were 2 up, they'd put some big old bloke in goal after he picked up an injury and one of his first contributions was spilling the ball in front of Tom who was a few yards out. Tom was facing his own goal when the ball arrived at his feet and showed some quick-thinking to back heel the ball past the keeper who looked completely lost.
Johnny had a couple of chances with his left in the box but maybe had one touch too many and allowed the defenders to get a block in. George had a header from a corner that he really should have hit the target with, I think everyone on the team made some kind of joke about him scoring it if it was up the other end.
We probably had 70% of the possession in this game, it was an absolute stroll, and if the final ball or finishing was a little sharper I think we'd have put the game to bed by the time half time came. As it was though, we trotted off with the score 2-0 and Dacian still in with a chance of turning it around.
I said we'd keep the team the same for 10 or so minutes of the second half, then I'd be bringing all 3 subs (me, Barnes and Luis) on. I knew Tom was dying to get his hattrick so he'd have to be quick or else he might not get one!
We started the second in much the same manner as we'd finished the first and dominated play completely. I can't remember many clear-cut chances but I'm sure we had some. I brought the subs on for Tom, Lee and Rich. I was supposed to be playing up front but found myself a bit deeper than Tom had been playing but both Will and Johnny were pushing forward a lot more than they had been so it seemed to work out ok. This did actually give us a certain fluidity and opened them up a lot whilst they tried to cope with the movement.
As the half unfolded Dacian were looking tired and their back line was becoming a real mess, with one of the centre backs seeming to want to play 10 yards behind the rest of his line, this meant we could rip them apart quite easily. Their lino was up to his old tricks and flagging for everything. There was also lots of play-acting like in the reverse fixture, we knew they'd be like that and they didn't disappoint. Thankfully Perry was reffing and wasn't having any of it!
The third goal came from another excellent Karl corner, where Johnny got a head to it and the ball found it's way to George who scored an absolutely outrageous overhead kick from 30 yards that will surely go down as one of the best goals ever seen?!?! (George asked me to say that). In reality he somehow bundled it over the line from about a yard out, they all count though and that's offset his goal tally for the season to take it to minus 1.
We almost had a fourth after Johnny tapped in from close range after I belted one at the keeper who saved, but the lino flagged it for offside and I think Perry gave them the benefit of the doubt. I seem to recall there being another disallowed goal too but I might have made that up. Johnny had another chance after a lovely move put him clean through but he couldn't beat the keeper when it looked easier to score. Thankfully not long after he did manage to get his goal by finishing what was, for me, the goal of the game. Aiden played the ball short and we worked our way up the pitch, Johnny collected the ball near the halfway line and did a quick one-two with me before putting Lee in down the right side (he'd come back on to replace Karl) and he played it back to Johnny who again found himself one-on-one with the keeper, and this time made no mistake, cooly slotting into the corner to make it 4-0. A great team goal, sorry for not remembering who was involved in the early stages of it, I'm sure Will was involved (whether he actually was or wasn't doesn't matter, he'll still claim it!)
I brought Tom back on for Will with about 10 minutes to go to give him a chance to get that triple and he didn't waste much time. Luis played a ball down the left side which Tom managed to get to and dribbling towards the middle of the box before feinting the shot to send old-man-keeps to the floor before tapping in, an excellent finish yet again and our first ever hattrick, well done mate!
Perry blew for full time and we'd finally managed to get a home win and kept a long overdue clean sheet. Truth be told it was an easy game, and we weren't brilliant, we did enough. There were moments of magic, you can only beat what's in front of you and against a better opposition I think we'd have been forced to raise our performance higher.
My man of the match has to be Tom - Despite a relatively slow start he soon got on the score sheet and was a continual thorn in the opponents side, showing great composure for all 3 goals. Very well done!
We are at home again on Sunday and will be playing another team that are struggling near the bottom. Even so, I expect everyone to give it 100% effort and approach the game like we are playing top of the league again.
One negative thing I'd like to mention, I was left to carry a step-ladder, the kit bag, a goal net and the ball bag (as well as my own kit bag) on my own at the end. I also helped Rob take a net down and had to go and get the match ball off the opposition before they left with it. So, can you all try and be a bit more helpful in that regard, I shouldn't have to ask people to help, and to be honest I don't see why I should be doing any of it! I spend enough time trying to run this team and to continually have to do all this other stuff myself so you can all play a game of football feels a bit unfair...It only takes a couple of minutes if everyone chips in.
See you Sunday.