Home league match played on 07 January 2017.
Kicked off at 11:00 AM

Launton Athletic picked up the New Year where they left the last running out 2-0 winners in a convincing victory.  The pitch conditions prevented it being a vintage Athletic display, but they dominated the game and ran out worthy winners, inspired by a superb performance from McLeese.

The first half ended nil-nil, but it wasn’t without event or chances.  Early in the game, playing in the defensive midfield role, Launchbury broke up and opposition play and hit a superb through ball to Gough whose shot was met by keeper.  The pressure continued, Barrett dragged the ball back and danced round another defender, his shot was saved and Gough again came close but couldn’t keep his shot down.  Continued pressure resulted in another chance, and Barrett hit a snap shot, but it was at the keeper who saved and did well to hold it.  A quick break saw Athletic on the back foot, but some great defensive tracking by Lucas-Howells broke down the attack.  Lucas-Howells retained his composure to bring the ball forwards and play it to Barrett who rode a tackle and slid the ball to Gough, but again the keeper kept Athletic at bay.

The opposition grew in confidence, and the game had all the hallmarks of an opposition being under pressure and snatching a goal, how apt on FA Cup 3rd round weekend.  The Athletic defence though, had other ideas.  Burrows and McLeese looked calm and confident, breaking up everything that came their way, and playing the ball out with precision and purpose, rather than booting it anywhere.  McLeese picked the pocket of the striker, before some nice footwork allowed him to turn a challenge and he hit a magical cross field pass to Davies, but the cross went behind for a goal kick.  Two minutes later, McLeese showed that today, he wasn’t being beaten making a superb block of a goal bound shot.

Time running out in the first half, Lucas-Howells found Babington, his shot was saved and Barrett’s follow up rattled the bar.  Surely the goal was coming.  In the dying moments, Athletic forced a corner after a great ball by Burrows sent Davies down the wing.  The delivery from Lucas-Howells was consistent as ever, and Launchbury reacted first to a bouncing ball but his effort went over the bar.

Half Time.

McLeese started the second half in the same form to which he played the first half.  Another tackle, a shimmy past two and a ball that opened the defence to send the half time sub Lazarus into space.  His cross was blocked and Athletic won another corner, but the opposition cleared.  Burrows picked up the loose ball and again found Lazarus who passed to Barrett but the shot went wide.

The opposition broke again, but McLeese pulled off a brilliantly timed last ditch tackle, the note went in the book to ask his mum what he’d had for breakfast.

Barrett picked up a lose ball, turned the defender but his shot was again met by the keeper. Atheltic broke shortly after, Babington beat all and bearing down on goal unleashed a shot, the keeper again saved, but this time Barrett was on hand to slam the ball home from close range.  The goal the team so deserved had arrived.  Phew.

A lapse in concentration saw the attack break through, but you guessed it, McLeese with another sliding tackle, prevented the goal and made sure a corner was the best they were getting.  Chaston in the goal must have been secretly hoping he’d miss one tackle, as he’d been left with little to do.

Blake had taken his place at the back and immediately won a ball with a strong challenge, he played in Lucas-Howells who slid through Barrett, but it was just too strong and the defender saw it out for a corner which Gough rose to meet.  It looked a certain two nil, but the header found the keeper.

Gough picked up an opposition clearance from a goal kick and found Babington.  A through ball to Barrett sent him one on one but on the stretch he could only get a toe to it, which sent it straight into the path of the rampaging Lazarus who smashed the ball home from the six yard box.

With the game the nearly done, a last ditch attack was made by the opposition.  Tracking back was the Athletic Man of the Match, who with a swagger of ‘not on my watch’ threw himself at the ball to block an opposition shot.

The whistle went. A solid performance by all and good start to the year.  A superb performance by McLeese was capped with the Man of the Match vote and a round of applause from the players.

Great stuff boys and onto the Launton derby next week.  Let’s keep it up.


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