After a criminal performance against Dynamo Santos the previous week it was fitting that PPR were forced to change their home pitch to Wormwood Scrubs for their league fixture against an in-form MEA side. After getting changed in what may at one time have been D wing of the prison and with the smell of piss lingering in their nostrils the PPR warriors trotted out to what was unquestionably the worst pitch they'd played on all season. With Her Majesty's Prison looming in the background and remote control aeroplanes buzzing above the pitch it was a strange setting for what would turn out to be a strange game.
Priory started with a new centre back pairing of Havers and Allen. Allen is rumoured to have missed training for most of the week due to therapy sessions and looked like a changed man as he took his position for KO. PPR started the game with their usual verve and passion and immediately spotted that MEA must have a stand-in keeper, the fact he didn't even have gloves was a slight give-away.
In the fifth minute Priory found themselves with a free-kick in their own half which Havers pinged across the pitch, beating the vertically challenged MEA right back and placing the ball right at Bryney's feet who's calm slice nestled itself in the MEA net to give Priory an early lead, something that is becoming a bit of a habit and not one that they will want to quit.
MEA came straight back at Priory, putting together some good attacking moves, but each was defended with a new found determinism from the Priory back line, Phil Allen was unflappable, putting his body on the line for the greater cause. Having been caught out playing too much delicate football at the back Priory took no risks and cleared their lines without taking any unnecessary faffing.
Play was end to end for a while until Danny Baker, back in form after an ankle injury, found himself maruading down the left hand side linking up well with Ween upfront. The resultant cross was suicidally cleared from outside his six yard area by the MEA "keeper" who put the ball straight into the path of Richardson just outside the box who skipped around the defender in front of him and placed the ball beautifully in the bottom right hand corner of the goal before the keeper could get across to make a save. 2-0 Priory.
MEA wouldn't give up the chase and showed why they have racked up so many points thus far this season with some impressive passages of play only being snuffed out by some outstanding defending from the back four who couldn't put a foot wrong. Even the Priory wingers pulled their weight, both Byrney and Baker clearing off the line from separate attacks.
Priory were dangerous on the counter-attack and found themselves with a free-kick on the edge of the box after an over-enthusiastic attempt at winning a header from the MEA centre back wiped out Ween. Byrne lined up as if to take a shot, but cleverly disguised his short pass square to Richardson who put his foot through the ball and the ball clipped an MEA defender and smashed into the top corner of the net to make it 3-0 Priory.
As we know, Priory were in this very same position the week before, only to squander their 3 goal lead. Could this possibly happen again?
A few minutes later it looked as though history might repeat itself. An MEA counter down the left flank saw the PPR defence drawn too far over, leaving a free player at the far post who was found by the MEA cross and the ball was slotted calmly into the bottom corner. 3-1.
It seemed Priory had learnt a tough lesson the week before and were never going to let the same happen again, heads never dropped and the players kept their spirits up, playing their exciting attacking football and came close to making it 4-1 just before half time as Flynn's curled shot was just about gathered by the MEA keeper.
At half time, talk turned to the ref, who had made some slightly strange decisions throughout the game (as seems to be common in this league) and insisted that the ball doesn't have to go forwards from a centre kick. But Priory drew on the week before and did not for once let this affect their play.
Luckily the referee did know that if you pass the ball back to your own keeper he isn't allowed to pick it up with his hands, fortunately for PPR the MEA keeper didn't. The indirect free-kick failed to penetrate the MEA defence, but aided the PPR pressure.
Pressure which continued to mount on the MEA defence and saw a post-corner goal line scramble cooly converted by Havers who brought his tally to 2 for the season. 4-1 Priory. The owls were soaring high and not dominating MEA across the pitch, Phil Allen was unbeatable in the defence, that was if the opposition could get past the solid midfield pairing of Jackson and Flynn.
A few minutes after going three goals ahead Ween found himself running at a retreating MEA defence and cooly slipped in Richardson whose hat-trick was completed as his shot was deflected off the MEA defender's boot and looped perfectly over the keeper's head. 5-1 Priory with half an hour to go and surely game over?
Unfortunately it was to be a lot longer than half an hour before Priory got to celebrate a well deserved win as a strong challenge from Phil Allen saw the MEA striker fall awkwardly on his shoulder and suffer a suspected dislocation. Luckily the PPR players showed compassion in asking the Ref to shove him off the pitch so we could carry on the game, but the ref was having none of it and the game was paused until the ambulance arrived. luck had it that the hospital was just over the road and the player could probably have walked there if he wasn't crying on the floor.
Half an hour later the game continued with both teams attacking at speed despite the long break in play. Both teams came close but excellent defending meant that neither could convert in the opposition's net and in the end it took Priory scoring in their own goal thanks to a(nother) OG from Havers in the 88th minute.
The final whistle eventually blew and Priory celebrated a well-deserved win after a disciplined performance. Phil Allen snatched the MOM from Richardson (Even though the latter had made history by scoring the first ever PPR hat-trick) after not missing a tackle all game and Richardson ended up with DOD after failing to compile the match-report for the previous week in time for the game.