Met Police lost a second home league game in a row as they faced fellow play off hopefuls Wingate & Finchley. Jim Cooper started on loan Billy Medlock up front and Rob Bartley came back into the starting line-up after his two match suspension. After the disappointment of losing the `unbeaten at home` in the league record last week, Blues fans hoped the side would bounce back.
The opening five to ten minutes seemed to indicate this, as Bradley Hudson – Odoi made a couple of breaks down the left. In the 3rd minute he beat his full back and whipped a cross into the box that Charlie Collins met with a header but straight at the keeper.
The game was then largely played in midfield as both sides cancelled each other out until the 20th minute when the visitors took the lead. A free kick from all of 30 yards out was curled towards the far post where Rob Laney rose unchallenged to head back across goal for Karl Oliyide to head home. The Blues defence had gone missing and both headers were unchallenged and a very disappointing goal to concede. This was especially the case as assistant manager Gavin Macpherson had pre warned the team about that set piece having watched Wingate & Finchley midweek and seen a similar goal.
The Blues then spent the remainder of the half trying to keep the deficit at just one as Wingate & Finchley pressed for a second. Steve Sutherland slipped when defending a long ball through the middle and former Met favourite, Dave Knight lifted the ball over the advancing Stuart Searle towards goal. Luckily Steve Sutherland regained his footing and tracked back to head the ball off the line under pressure from Knighty.
Just before the break the Blues finally came alive and Joe Turner linked well with Billy Medlock and sent him clear towards goal with a neat through pass between the two defenders. As Billy chased the ball into the box the advancing keeper just beat him to the touch and safely dived onto the ball.
Half Time Met Police 0 Wingate & Finchley 1
Jim had clearly `lifted` his misfiring starting eleven and they had a bright start to the second half in the opening five minutes. Charlie Collins lifted a pass over the back four & Billy Medlock anticipated well and chased the ball into the penalty area. As he shaped up to shoot he was given a hefty nudge in the back, but somehow retained his footing enough to get a right foot shot off as he fell to the ground. The referee waved away the penalty appeals and probably discounted it as Billy had not crashed to the ground under the nudge.
Bradley Hudson-Odoi then went on a trademark run down the left before cutting onto his right & drilling a right foot shot low past the post. Another half chance in the 62nd minute when a free kick was headed goalwards by Rob Bartley but cleared in the six yard box just before Joe Turner could reach it.
It seemed the Blues had finally woken up and rolled their sleeves up to compete in this game but the deficit was about to be doubled by a former Met player. A through ball had caught Steve Sutherland on his heels and Rob Laney chased the pass down the left channel and into the box. As he reached the dead ball line he crossed towards the penalty area and there was David Knight in the right place as ever to comfortably volley home.
The Blues had barely looked like scoring one and now they needed two to just get a point from this encounter. Just two minutes later they nearly got one back, with a Charlie Collins free kick, that he curled round the wall and it came back off the foot of the post with the keeper stranded.
Jim had made his changes bringing on Dean Bown to try & give us a goal threat & then Elliot Taylor. The Blues finally scored after Jay Lovett put a cross into the box from the left. Billy Crook cleverly dummied the ball to allow it to run onto Bradley Hudson-Odoi, who cut onto his right foot and his shot took a slight deflection on its way in.
This gave us a fairly exciting last 8 minutes as the Blues pressed forward for an equaliser and had several half chances that they were unable to convert. The final whistle went on a second home league defeat for Met Police and even more disappointing was the manner of the loss.
The players have worked hard and played well to get themselves into play-off contention, but as other sides are finding, maintaining that form is even harder. Effort, hard work & full commitment is the answer at this stage of the season and some need to decide if they are up for that challenge.
Video match highlights : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iPSbHWkTO2Y&feature=youtu.be
Team 1.Stuart Searle, 2. Will Salmon, 3.Jay Lovett, 4. Billy Crook, 5. Rob Bartley, 6. Steve Sutherland, 7. Bradley Hudson-Odoi, 8. Joe Turner, 9. Charlie Collins, 10. Matt Pattison, 11. Billy Medlock.
Subs: 12. Elliot Taylor (replaced 5 - 71 mins) 14. Dean Bown ( replaced 10 – 58 mins), 15. Mu Maan (replaced 11 – 79 mins) 16. Nikki Ahamed, 17. Scott Tarr
Man of the Match: Jay Lovett