Potters Bar 3s vs St Albans 6s – 10 Jan 2015
This first 3s fixture of 2015 was their first match since November, so there was a fear that players might have forgotten their skills – especially when the St Albans team looked so well drilled in their warm-up. But those fears were soon allayed when the early action all took place in the St Albans half. After 10 minutes a rapid foray down the left wing by Andy Stokes saw him pass to Warren Edmondson. His disguised pass caught the St Albans defence off guard, but unfortunately also the Bar forwards, and the ball fizzed across the front of the goal when the merest touch would have given Bar the lead.
After that, St Albans gained the initiative and started a succession of attacks on the Bar goal. St Albans won a good half dozen short corner, but were unable to convert any of them. Bar felt relieved to go in at half time still at 0-0.
Rich Hughes’s half time team talk focussed on keeping concentration and eing more bold going forward in mid-field. So, the second half began much brighter for Bar. 10 minutes after the restart, in a curious incident, a 25 yard hit from Bar that took a deflection was heading towards the St Albans back line with no sign of danger. The St Albans keeper sprinted out of the D to boot the ball sideways off the pitch, even though it was a good 5 yards outside the D. The umpires were at first unsure if a yellow card for the keeper was mandatory for this, but sense prevailed, and play continued with a green card and Potters Bar short corner. The resulting short saw an excellent Bar move: injection from Edmondson, to Stokes who squared to Yates who passed back to Edmondson to square across the D just in front of the St Albans goal line. The pace of the cross caught the Bar forwards, and Johnson and Choudhury were unable to convert the chance.
The quality of the first Bar short corner appeared to have unnerved the St Albans defence: when a second short was won, the defenders headed in every direction except to receiver Stokes; his un-impeded shot headed straight into the bottom right corner, to put Bar 1-0 in the lead.
Bar continued to create the more chances in the following period of the match. Half way through the half, a Potters Bar attack had broken down on the edge of the St Albans D and St Albans were starting to head up the pitch. Bar intercepted and the ball was passed to Brady who was able to run towards the St Albans D. All three St Albans defenders challenged him on the edge of the D. With the keeper on the line, there was a large gap behind them in the D; Edmondson and Brady spotted the gap, and Brady’s weighted pass gave Edmondson the time to get into position. Once he reached the ball, Edmondson made no mistake and hit home to put Bar 2-0 in the lead.
After going 2-0 up against the strong opposition that St Albans were, it was inevitable that there would be drop in energy levels by Bar, and also a rallying by St Albans. Much of the attacking play in the following period was thus by St Albans. They won short-corner after short-corner and with each were getting closer to scoring. Maidment made some excellent saves and Donoghue made some great tackles on the hitter to keep St Albans out. Eventually, St Albans got a short corner shot on target. After a deflection off a defender on the line, the ball clipped the top of the back-boards, leaving some uncertainty about whether it was a goal. The Bar defence thought it was, and the umpires also came to that conclusion after a short conference.
That set up the remaining 5-10 minutes to be a torrid affair with Bar having to try hard to keep their composure. On the whole, they did, but St Albans won a further 2 short corners, the first bringing the save of the day from keeper Maidment. The other short was taken after the final whistle, but St Albans were not able to make it count. And so, this close and entertaining encounter ended with a 2-1 win for Bar.