Moor Mead Athletic 3 - Brockham Badgers 1
Moor Mead bounced back well after a defeat against the league leaders the week before.
On a cold day in Marble Hill, the Parakeets ground out a 3-1 victory, which was a little harsh on industrious well-organised opponents. The big difference was that Moor Mead took their chances well, while Brockham were a little blunt in the final third.
Dilly provided the key combative spark in midfield in the first half, and when he left the game Will S took over. Ollie showed good vision to create much of Moor Mead’s goal threat, and Mani tucked away a couple of beauties.
The game started off in ‘harum-scarum' end-to-end fashion. Brookham shot wide in the opening moments, but it was Moor Mead who took an early lead with the move of the game. Dilly chipped the ball down the left to Zac, who cut in and crossed for MANI to slot home a lovely first-time finish (1-0).
Brockham went close twice and then Ollie released Zac, whose chip hit the post. Alec stretched well to claim a shot from the right, and Brockham threatened again from a corner. The home side went into their shell a little, much to Coach Brown’s frustration: “Come on Mani, that’s pathetic,” ringing through the chill air.
Then, out of nothing, Moor Mead doubled their lead. There seemed no danger, but under no pressure a Brockham defender trap-passed the ball directly to TOM in the box, and he buried his shot emphatically into the far corner (2-0). To their credit, Brockham continued to pass the ball around well. They hit the post directly from a corner. Their keeper, who spent big chunks of the game closer to the halfway line than his goal, was lucky not to be sent to the sin bin for intentional handball outside the area after Ollie put Jake through on goal.
Finally, Brockham cut the deficit, capitalising on defensive hesitation to chip the ball into the roof of the net. “We deserved that,” one of their defenders said. Indeed, they did (2-1).
But their optimism was short-lived. Ollie produced a beautiful diagonal ball, which MANI thrashed home to restore Moor Mead’s two-goal advantage (3-1). The same combination almost extended the lead further on the stroke of half time, Mani just failing to connect with his head in front of goal.
Brockham spent an extended break in a huddle so intense one wondered if the coaches had sneaked in a power point presentation. And when the second half finally got under way the match turned into something a slog, not helped by the pitch starting to cut up. There was no lack of effort from either side, but quality chances were at a premium, and a game that had started out so breathlessly turned into a dour midfield battle.
Shaifulah was confined to a few minutes due to his ongoing leg injury, and Dilly was forced off after being kicked in the back in a multi-player melee. Zac fed Ollie, who drove narrowly wide, and Tom went close after being put through by Jake.
Brockham had extended periods of pressure, but the defence, led by Jeremias, minimised the actual goal threat, while Daniel and Will W had their hands full with the big number 11 on the right flank.
Tom had a couple more chances, and the Ollie-Zac combination threatened once more late on. But after conceding four in the latter stages last week, the fact that the game rather petered out this time was testament to Moor Mead’s calm control. At the final whistle Brockham resumed their huddle and were still there when your correspondent reached his car.
It might be that they felt they had many lessons to learn from the home side, or possibly they felt the centre of the pitch was the best place to avoid any further exposure to Jonny Bevan’s truly terrible Shakin’ Stevens impersonation on the sidelines.