On a cold, snowy night in North London two football sides clashed in a school-like battle that took big characters to power through in freezing conditions.
The sides kicked off in steady rain that made the surface fast and skiddy. Within a minute Streatham Vale had the lead when neat play left a midfielder with time and space to find their pacy striker on the right hand side of the penalty area. His shoot was fierce, it bounced just in-front of keeper Daniel Bank which flew off the surface, ricocheted off his shoulder and into the net.
That game was immediately more frantic with both sides pushing forward with the ball in a game that ebbed and flowed from end to end. Both sides created openings; both side missed chances. Striking partners Perry Price and Kadeem Gutzmore had opportunities to draw Vegas level, as they had so frequently found the net this year, but a combination of prolificacy and decent goalkeeping kept them frustrated for the half.
As the snow fell, Vegas looked a little unbalanced in their new diamond shape, unexpected changes before the game meant Moore Jones started in midfield instead of the unavailable Abiola Baolqun.
That changed at HT when the injured Ashley Webb-Brown was forced off with a recurrence of his knee injury and replaced by Hussein Hussein. He slotted into CB with Shane McNamara moving to LB, Giuliano Cinotti shifted over to RB and man of the match/captain Sam Bader moved into central midfield.
Vegas began to wrestle the game from a Vale side that had rode its luck in the first half. Bader, Tre Thompson and debutant Shaz Anwar began to dominate exchanges but the finishing touches in the final third was proving difficult to find.
That was until Bader found two 1-2's in the midfield to find space in front of the Vale defence. His slide pass into the path of Gutzmore was reached by the flying winger who got to the ball before the goalkeeper and steered it home for a deserved equaliser.
Now in the ascendancy Vegas huffed and puffed but Price was finding chances hard to come by, or his attempt at finding space was being snaffled out by Vale defenders. No matter what he tried it was not looking like it was going to be his day...until the 82nd minute.
Thompson made a marauding run down the right wing, a big - unnecessary tackle - missed the ball which left Thomson the opportunity to cross dangerously. This was deflected away from the area to a vale player who mis-controlled the ball 30 yards out. Price latched on to it, he dropped the shoulder on two defenders running to the left of the pitch until a small space opened up. He struck the ball low and hard. Similarly to the attempt that snuck past Bank, this attempt was mis-judged by the goalkeeper who could only deflect it into his own net.
Vegas celebrated in relief. They ran the clock down cleverly this time, as before they had let a two goal lead slip after 90 minutes against the same side before Christmas, there was no panic this time.
The win was vital to keep pace, the win was vital to move forward another step. For now they keep the pressure on leaders Dover Castle who will be looking over their shoulder at the Vegas boys until their meeting on the 26th of February.
Before then, Vegas have the huge task of seeing off SYFC and Admiral, two old enemy's who will do everything they can to halt the Vegas train. They must be focused, they must be ready and they must be humble. Let's.....Get.....IT!