1st XI - Report
|Wanderers||3||vs||1||King's College Old Boys|
King's Prove a Stern Test for Fledgling Wanderers
One of the Amateur Football Combination's most experienced sides stood in the way of Wanderers' undefeated pre-season record at the home of football.
Many of those who had played in the previous 3 games were present: Adam Wood returned to goal, whilst Daniel Flash enjoyed his outfield debut. Calvin McKenzie, Andrew Mileham and Steven Bradley formed a familiar back line after the interval. However, there were debuts for Janus Nielsen and Simon Fullwood - both at full-back.
Mark Wilson, formerly of King's, won the toss and elected to give KCOB the kick-off. Several King's players have turned out for Wanderers over the years - Daniel Capel and Andrea Mene (v Oxford University), Jonathan Stuart (v Clapham Rovers) and Stephen Campbell (v England Amateurs). Both sides faced one-another in a 4-4-2 formation, relying on the width of the sandy, astro turf pitch. From the off, it became clear that the surface would play a part, as stopping and turning had to be preordained or else risk injury.
King's experience showed as they moved the ball around well in phases of the opening minutes, putting pressure on a Wanderers back-four of Fullwood, Ross Sibbit, McKenzie and Mileham. The defence remained resolute, with some key tackles in the three yards closest to the goal-line. Stuart and Aaron McCann leading the line. As the game progressed, confidence grew and Wanderers' midfield, led by Robert Goodall and supported on the flanks by M Wilson and Tony Alvarez with James Green in the middle, began confidently knocking the ball around the KCOB box.
A few chances went begging but Green, with the ball at feet, beat two men with a drop of the shoulder and fired the ball into the bottom corner. KIng's well-established camaraderie kept them together as Andy White, who had faced Wanderers before, filling in for UNICEF, German Castro and Alister Morgan used their physicality and guile to try and break through.
It took until the second half for that to happen. A well-delivered corner was met forcefully by Capel, who scored a rare but excellent headed goal. The Wanderers' players had to take the blame for poor defending but at their best, they would have struggled to prevent the ball flying into the top corner.
Fresh legs gave Wanderers the edge, however, Darren Tracey, Ashley Stokes and Flash were often too much to handle. Luke Wilson, who had come on in the second half, covered more of the pitch than most - playing left-back, left winger and right winger in a thirty minute spell. It was Ed James though who was at the heart of a controversial incident.
Flying down the right, he knocked the ball past Campbell who, probably due to the surface more than anything else, was unable to stop himself blocking James off, who, equally unavoidably, fell to the ground. The referee pointed to the spot, despite protestations from the King's players. James stepped up and despatched the penalty coolly - his first in 11-a-side football.
Wanderers continued to repel offensive possession football from King's, who began to distribute the ball more and more to Oliver Attinger and Gregg Burrough on the wings. Eventually, King's had the chance to restore parity when they received a perhaps fortunate penalty of their own. A pass was blocked by McKenzie's hand, even though it was by his side and he had no chance to get out of the way. Morgan stepped up to score - but rammed the ball into the hockey goal to the side of target, sending Wood the wrong way.
It was an unfortunate error at the back by the reliable - if somewhat 'exploratory' - Paul Jackson. A sensible back-pass was hit with too much juice and, again, down to the surface, the keeper slid right past the ball. Jean-Claude Meta, who was carrying a slight injury, pounced and the score was 3-1.
That is the way the game ended and Wanderers would like to thank King's for a brilliant, good-spirited game and their generous donation to UNICEF. All the Wanderers players would also like to wish King's defender Steve Thorley's fiancee a swift recovery. In her salient and forthright words, 'Get up 'is clacker!'