The Cobras had played Charlwood teams twice this season losing 2-4 and 2-5 - in one game where they were low on players however in both they had been outplayed. The boys were all excited by the challenge and although we had a couple of enforced changes enthusiasm remained high.
A good start was imperative, and could the Vipers catch Charlwood cold from the off? The question was answered in the 1st minute – an emphatic no!!!! My pencil was burning from the off as the blur of yellow shirts swarmed all over us from the start – George was into instant action and was valiant in his defiance. The cry from the Loxwood mass was that muscle, “getting your foot in” and “route 1” was likely the only way out of this – playing through the Charlwood midfield was not an option. The good news was that in Cam and Ben we had “men boys” on the pitch who with their stature could help stem the flow.
It was only the 5th minute though when Charlwood made the breakthrough – from a corner. Ben headed clear but Charlwood were on it and the ball was struck sweetly. Through the crowded box for 1-0. The restart and it continued. Charlwood immediately hit the bar and had a looping shot sail wide.
The Vipers held them out for another 9 minutes but it was once again a corner that saw an attacker left loose and capitalising with a stooping heading from a low whipped in corner on the near post. 0-2.
Although a win was a stretch could the lads rally and stem the flow? Well yes, sort of…… George went route 1 and it landed at William, he broke free and rounded the keeper – was it to be a repeat of that cup final goal? – not quite. With a touch a little heavy it bobbled past the post, but a chink had been shown. Cue the Rocky theme tune – was this the turning point? I could hear Rocky in the corner saying, “I can see of three of them Micky” and Micky screaming back “Just hit the one in the middle…”. Tackles were flying in – Cody was strong, Cam was strong, Fin was strong, Jenko playing sensible football all game and Sebby was showing why he is the most improved player in the 2nd half of the season. Charlwood scored. 18th minute. 0-3.
The half ended with this score line. Cam floated in a long range free-kick. Charlwood were tricky, the Vipers had chances on the break. Having Jody available would have been an interesting challenge for this defence (not withstanding Raff and Charlie also).
That said congratulations Charlwood. Worthy league winners and setting the standard. Whenever we play them, it is a fair, polite and respectful game. We wish them luck next season!
Notable in this half were Georges heroics including a fabulous double save – that coupled with the one in the final proving we really do have an Inspector Gadget in goal at times. Also notable was Jenko really taking no prisoners, Sebby bombing up the left from the left – have we found a new Gareth Bale? Cam very strong in midfield and having a clearance off the line. It was also very heartening to see Ben slip into midfield. He had already played his heart out for the Cobras this same morning but his desire to fight for the cause never wavered. William decided a Zindane step-over was the order of the day and executed beautifully and even Coach Paul got in on the act with a lovely mid-air take down from the sideline. And not to forget Sarah who on deciding to retrieve the ball from distance now realised it had to be passed back over some length in front of a very supportive crowd “oooooooooo, you’re good ahhhhhhhhh”
Although Sam did have a quieter game, he did win a penalty – it was just that “Collina the Enforcer” in the middle did not spot it – post match he insists that we were on the wrong side (of the pitch) and it was a great tackle. From where we were standing there was only one individual on the “wrong side” and that was Vinny J
The Vipers finished the season a more than respectable 3rd and an exciting foundation for next season – easily our best team performance of the year and nothing but positives for this well drilled and enthusiastic pool of players.
What to say? Harry Smith has been a pleasure to watch develop. Since age 5 he has played up with us and represented both teams. So many games where he has doggedly annoyed defences and players 3 times his size and nicked goals with his speed, guile and desire. This culminated in his hat-trick in the recent semi-final that put us on the path to glory.
I think in the time I have watched this group he is the one player that I have heard opposing supporters/parents say multiple times “who the hell is that kid?” … “he plays everywhere” ….”where does he get the energy?” …… “and how do you stop him”. And always with a smile… in the rain, snow and sun. He lives for football. Our own Messi. Good luck Harry S in the U12s next year – they are lucky to have you and you will smash it....
His last match and and an early one below.....