The Athletic boys went three points clear at the top of the league after a superb 5-0 victory at home to Garden City on Saturday. The top of the table clash was anticipated as being a tough test for the boys following a 4-3 defeat away in the season’s opening game, but Athletic swept aside the opposition and had the game sewn up by half time.
The scoring was opened after 3 minutes, a passage of crisp passing found Barrett in the opposition half, he dissected the defence and sent Lucas-Howells through down the left. A thundering run and a rifled shot bulged the net and Athletic had an early advantage.
The chances kept coming and Athletic were having a lot of success. The defence and midfield dominated in their battles and Barrett was finding lots of space to orchestrate play. Through balls continued to dissect the opposition defence and overlaps from Lazarus and Lucas-Howells yielded more shots at goal. The speed and quality of the attacks and passing was a joy to watch.
The second came after Athletic forced a corner. Barrett sent the ball into a dangerous area, and as happens more often than not, the ball was met by Gough who powered a header home and doubled the Athletic advantage.
The boys continued to dominate across the pitch. Launchbury was having a superb game at the back intercepting play, breaking down the opposition and resetting the Athletic attacks. Burrows and McConnell were rocks in the middle of the park and it wasn’t long before a third was added. Gough stopped an opposition attack down the left hand side, he found Lucas-Howells who slotted the ball to Barrett. Barrett went round one and managed to a shot away which was blocked but only into the path of the oncoming Lazarus who made no mistake. A particularly pleasing goal as the boys worked on transition from defence to attack in midweek training, and the goal was exactly that.
A not dissimilar goal for the third, McConnell found Barrett, his shot hit the target but the keeper saved. Lazarus followed in and smashed the ball home from six yards. 4-0 before half time.
The second half was equally impressive whilst not as prolific in terms of goals. Maciejewski and Blake slotted straight into defence with Launchbury moving to midfield as Burrows and Davies took a short rest. Both Maciejewski and Blake, alongside Gough, continued to deny the opposition. The Athletic defence looking strong and resolute.
The final goal came with just under 10 mins to go. Davies, on for Lazarus, showed that he took on instruction from midweek training. With space ahead of him he made a powerful run down the right hand side. McConnell saw the run and slid the ball through. One on one with defender there only ever looked like being winner, and Davies fired low and powerfully to give the keeper no chance. A fantastic finish and smile to boot!
It’s difficult to get across exactly how good ALL the boys were. Probably the best football that we have seen them play, and considering the quality and strength of the opposition, the performance from all of them should not be underestimated. A fantastic effort and team ethic. Halfway through the season, three points clear at the top, but with some tricky games and a half term break remaining, we need to stay focussed, continue working as a team to get the boys the league title that they deserve! COYY!