Long ball specialists, 3 December 2016 11:28

26th November 2016, Harpenden Rovers Reserves, Home (Webster Cup) 

Another Global cup run came to an abrupt halt on Saturday as they were overpowered by old foes Harpenden Rovers in London Colney.

With the visitors bragging about how they were going to run up a cricket score against their out of form hosts, Global needed to turn in a performance to shock the gobsh*tes from Harpo. Once again they would have to do it with a squad of bare bones, hampered once again by a couple of really late drop outs, and illness knocking stalwart Tom Jackson out of the mix.

In response to the crisis, Gaffer Gaines called on Craig McCrory who only made his first (and so far only) appearance at training on Wednesday night to make his debut, along with successfully bullying Ben Pegram to ‘put the pie down’ and get his backside to football, albeit not in time for kick off.

The gaffer had clearly been doing his homework on today’s opposition as he switched Global into a 3-5-2 to combat Rovers’ strong midfield, with Simon Lucas dropping into defence, and himself and Rich Landry taking on the joyous task of playing as the oldest pair of wing-backs ever seen in the league.

Rich was seemingly up for the challenge of 90 minutes hard graft, as in a surprise turn up for the books he was the first player in a white shirt to put in a crunching tackle on an opposition player. Anyone who had money on him at 125/1 to make the game’s first big challenge was laughing all the way to the bank.

Rovers’ physical power going forward put Global on the back foot early on. A spell of pressure bringing the first saves of the game from Dave Green, and from the resulting couple of corners the hosts’ were able to scramble the ball away.

Greeny was then clattered by Hayden after clearing the ball, earning a free kick in the process and a quiet reminder from Ben to his Sunday manager that he might well need Greeny’s services the following day.

Global were being allowed to play some football by their opponents, and in the blinking of an eye they put themselves in front. John Sheehan’s incisive ball opened up the Rovers back line, allowing Dexter Simpson to scamper away down the right hand side. His cross was met by Chris Palmer, whose effort was spilled by Harpo’s flaky ‘keeper. The arriving Landry was on hand to turn the ball home though and give Global a surprise lead. 1-0.

After working so hard to get in front, it was hard on the home side to concede an equaliser fairly soon after, but Harpo’s pressure finally paid off. Global failed to deal with another corner, and a Harpo player’s shot somehow found its way through a sea of legs and into the back if the home side’s net. 1-1.   

Global were huffing and puffing, but couldn’t find a way out of their own half for long spells as the visitors’ cranked up the pressure. Some strong defending was keeping Global in the game; however they were struggling to give Palmer and Simpson much to work with going forward as Harpo kept them pinned in. Their best chance came from a Pegram free kick, which was just beyond the reach of Simpson at the far post.

Arguably the decisive moment of the match arrived just before the interval as Harpo grabbed the lead. The home side only half cleared a corner, which was floated back into the Global box. No one tracked their man, allowing Hayden to get to the ball first and nod it over the advancing Greeny and into the back of the net. 1-2.

Half-time: Global FC 1 – 2 Harpenden Rovers Reserves

Global knew they were still in the match; however they needed to find some quality to match their work rate after the interval.

And they started the second half positively as they went sniffing for an equaliser. Palmer and Simpson combined well to allow Simpson a run at goal, with the ball eventually breaking to John Sheehan who fired over.

However despite making the better start to the second half, the tie was pretty much killed off when Global were caught out by a quick counter attack. Pegram launched another long free kick into the box, which Jon Ward headed back across goal into the danger zone. Harpo were able to scramble the ball away though, and were soon two on two against the remains of the Global defence. The pass was spot on to split the whites open, allowing their forward to coolly slot past Greeny. Game over. 1-3.

At this point, Global decided to at least make a fight of it with some hefty challenges and plenty of conversation with the ref. First up was Dex, who after being blatantly fouled, politely told the hopeless man in black that he’d ‘like to talk’ to him. All his efforts of conversation earned Dex was a booking, and not the date he’d clearly hoped for.

Some of the old guard realised early on in the match that they had been reunited with the useless Richard from St Albans Wanderers fame, who whilst being largely headless chicken like, had scarred Wadey and Big Dave into early retirement after embarrassing both of them. First up to pass on their regards was Shee with a crunching but fair challenge, and not wanting to miss out, Carlos firstly tangled with him, before hunting him down and nailing him, much to Harpo’s disgust. Unsurprisingly, the powder puff ref gave decisions in their favour, as he had largely done all afternoon.

The afternoon’s scoring was completed in the dying seconds as Harpo wrapped things up late on. Once again a set piece was Global’s downfall, with a cross back into the box headed back across goal and tapped home by an unmarked Harpo player. 1-4.

Full time soon arrived, and Global could head to the pub to lick their wounds. Whilst the effort of the 12 who played was not to be faulted, the lack of reinforcements and creative spark had cost them, although they could at least take some consolation for letting Harpo know they were in a match and not get bullied out of it as expected.

Full-time: Global FC 1 – 4 Harpenden Rovers Reserves

Man-of-the-match: Rich Landry
Team: GK: Dave Green, RWB: Ben Gaines (capt), LWB: Rich Landry, SWP: Simon Lucas, CB: Jon Ward, CB: Carl Fazekas, CM: Craig McCrory, CM: John Sheehan, CM: James Hounslow, CF: Dexter Simpson, CF: Chris Palmer, SUB: Ben Pegram