Well if there was ever a genuine case for the term ‘A game of two halves’ this has surely got to be it. YM’s youngsters flew out of the blocks and completely dominated their esteemed hosts earning a 2-0 advantage going into the break. The lead was ‘on paper’ more comfortable still at 3-0 after 55 minutes played however; a collapse to rival that of the England middle order of the early 90’s culminated in defeat being clutched from the jaws of victory and saw ‘The Met’ pull off an astonishing comeback to run out eventual 5-3 victors.
Coops and Steve opted to try and enjoy the challenge of playing higher ranked opposition and have a real go rather than being intimidated by the potential for a humbling. A 4-3-3 set up with the emphasis on a high tempo and fast movement of the football was deployed and the players did not disappoint. The pace and energy levels of Brooker and Taylor were giving the Met back four much to think about and very little time on the ball. Hass Shurmahi was back at the heart of the midfield flanked by skipper Russ Curtis and Lee Thomas. The three were very effective in harrying, hassling and earning possession of the ball. From there, the first half distribution was precise and penetrative often turning the host’s defence who like any team didn’t like facing their own goal.
On 20 minutes YM’s dominance was rewarded. A well weighted Lee Thomas through ball was latched on to down the left wing by Ben Brooker. With his mojo apparently back in situ Brooker drove across the full back and dispatched coolly past the advancing Brannon Daly who had narrowed the angle well. Just three minutes later and a similar move saw Brooker once again released by the timely ball out wide. He again dispatched his shot which was this time well parried by Daly in goal however Ryan Taylor had out run his marker to be on hand to smash home the rebound for a 0-2 lead. The Met Police heavyweights were on the ropes and the half time bell arrived in the nick of time as YM had the taste for blood and wanted more. HT 0-2.
Whilst the YM contingency were naturally delighted with their opening 45 minutes work there remained calmness and a healthy respect. The hosts do occupy the higher echelons of the Suburban Premier Division with due reason and there was sure to be a reaction. YM’s inexperience was at this stage of proceedings their strength as they hadn’t read the script. Five minutes into the restart saw a sweeping move down the YM right culminate in Ryan Taylor providing a deep cross that was met by a combination of an airborne Ben Brookers forehead and nose. The watery eyes suggested more of the latter but that doesn’t take away anything from the technique. He headed down into the ground as per the text books and beat both keeper and covering defender for a 3-0 away lead.
At this stage of the game the Met Management showed some class and experience. A triple substitution and change of formation back to their favoured 4-4-2 looked immediately more comfortable. The hosts enjoyed longer spells with the ball and started to ask the majority of the questions. A Matt Cornish delivery into the box saw Christian Childs momentarily lose the attentions of centre half Nath Sleat. Childs met the cross on the volley to give provide a foothold back into the game.
The introduction of Alex Harlington proved decisive as he was linking things up for the Met, consistently doing the simple things well. Just moments after the Met opener they reduced the deficit to one as a Seb Shoburgh ball into the YM box wasn’t dealt with. Bennett’s initial strike was superbly palmed away by YM stopper Flack however the lively Bobby Bennet (irony not wasted) reacted swifter than anyone in YM colours to smash home from close range. 2-3. Moments later and a blistering strike from 25 yards was superbly palmed over the bar by an out stretched Flack arm.
The pivotal moment came on 75 minutes when and in swinging corner was accurate enough to be too high for the jumping Hass Shurmahi to head away on the near post and Flack only managed to push the ball behind his near upright and into the net. 3-3.
YM rallied and almost retook the lead immediately following another foul on the lively Brooker whose swollen shins could tell a few stories come Sunday morning. Taylor’s well struck whipped effort was blocked by the outstretched lunge of Harry Wise as it made its way to the bottom corner of the target.
The final fifteen minutes of the game highlighted the difference in experience between the two squads and however painful presently, will go on to serve as a huge learning curve in the YM squad’s development. A squared ball from Hass Shurmahi right across the Met six yard box was somehow scuffed wide of the target by the unmarked and exhausted Taylor. From the place kick, Christian Childs collected the ball in the centre circle, eluded some half attempts at a tackle and from outside the area unleashed a drive that flew past the outstretched right glove of Flack to give the hosts the lead for the first time in the game.
With almost the final kick of the game Seb Schoburgh was allowed the space to advance whilst the YM back line retreated rather than pressed. Again from outside the penalty area the dispatched shot this time along the ground, beat Flack who appeared slow to get down to his right, hindered by an injured groin.
Full time and David’s efforts to bring down Goliath had fallen short. Full credit to the players and management of the Met Police team who never panicked even when 3-0 down. It was refreshing to see a coaching team make tactical alterations rather than reverting to merely shouting louder. The hospitality shown by all at the Met set up was appreciated by all from the YM camp. Final word to the officials who did their best to play their part in a cracking advert for the Suburban Football League if not for text book defending. The crowd however seemed to enjoy their afternoon.