A dreary soggy atmosphere greeted the Mens 2s at Meadowcroft for this relegation battle, Stevenage were on the same points as us, so it was a must win for the Mens 2s to keep their survival in 3SW.
A mix up on umpires, where we had anticipated Stevenage bringing one meant that we started the game with Ben West as the only umpire, the call was went on FaceBook and Jo Fisher answered, turning up with sirens blaring to the rescue for the 2nd half (a big vote of thanks goes to both Westie for umpiring on his todd the first half and our Jo for turning up in an emergency)
Some resilient performances, since New Year has seen us hold our own against the top sides and grind out the odd win, so we knew we had it in us to win this game. Buoyed by the return of some old favourites – Robin Page, Matt Prowse (nursing a broken thumb), Rocky ‘Balboa’ Savage and Tim Urch, supported by our teddy bears we were ready to take the match to Stevenage. Perhaps due to this adrenalin rush we started in an untidy fashioned and tried too hard, with several Berko Lions taking the ball into contact and being dispossessed. The front line of Roger Payton, Oli Johnson and David Jones were starved of supply and the midfield marshalled by Rocky and flanked by Tom Walker and Jason Silver spent much of the 2nd half shuttling backwards and forwards but failing to get a grip on the game. Stevenage meanwhile were no slouches and quick to see the disarray in the usually composed defence of Tim Urch, Jamie Holderness, Robin Page and Matt Prowse pushed forward quickly and decisively on various counter attacks. On more than one occasion they had a man free up front as we tried to regain some semblance of controlled management of the game. One Stevenage attack saw them hit the post with the goal wide open, a luck escape and then came the infamous save by our stalwart keep Nick Prowse, a flick of the ball by a Stevenage forward towards the goal looked like it was going in, the forward began to celebrate a goal when out of nowhere, Prowsey (as he is known to his friends) flicked his stick and like Gordon Banks against Pele in the 1970 World Cup, he tipped the ball over the post. Save of the season! As Jamie said afterwards “People will talk about where they were when he made that save, it was nothing if not miraculous”. However we were riding our luck too hard and a goal was bound to come at some point and Stevenage finally converted on all their efforts. Only 1 down at half time but it could have been more.
Jo Fisher arrived and as she reminded us after the game, we always win when she is umpiring, so our lucky mascot was with us, the teddies on the side-line expected more and a rousing team talk saw us renew the onslaught in the 2nd half. Straight from the pushback we were a different side, we were passing the ball to each other and making space, with a new confidence we started to turn the screw. Tom Walker with new treads (a new flashy pair of trainers) started bringing his youthful exuberance to bear, Brik used his wily skills and Oli J in David Beckham fashion started treading balls through the attackers. The game was ours for the taking. A series of short corners meant we had shots on target, it was only going to be a matter of time. Cometh the hour, cometh the hero, slick interplay between old stager Payton and young stager Johnson, saw OJ shoot from a wide angle and at last the Stevenage goal was breached (1-1). Payton now found his touch and again an lovely interplay with the increasing influential OJ saw a fine 2nd goal (2-1), a reverse stick push in. Stevenage continued to press and search for an equaliser and some tough play by them saw more than one Berko player shoved off the ball, with Silver attracting a lot of rough treatment, but we held firm and we began to pushback the Stevenage attacks. The defence had now solidified and ‘Air’ Urch and ‘Air’ Prowse flinging aerial after aerial out of defence, both trying to outdo each other for aerial champion of the day. A 3rd goal from the irrepressible Payton settled the nerves, a lob this time (to show his repertoire of goal scoring abilities). One other piece of action to note was Captain Fantastic Holderness who discovering the ball at his feet in our D, calming skilled his way past at least 4 may be even 5 Stevenage forwards as he ushered the ball to safety to the side-line, a mesmeric dribbling display that left the rest of the team astounded, we did not know he had it in him.
A well fought win, with both Prowsey and Payton chief among the man of the match nominees, Payton edged it, but for me the ”Save” made Prowsey the saviour of the day
An afternoon tea with our teddy bears made everything all right.
With renewed optimism we look forward to the next series of relegation dog fights
#The great escape is still on