March 2007 : Double Header Madness
The first double header of the season against our friend St. Augustines and it was only a matter of time before this happened as Esprit still had 10 league games to complete with only a handful of weekends left. Last time these two sides met Esprit won both league games in their 2004 promotion season. However a lot had changed since then and these two games were a lot closer. Runo had the tough task of trying to accomodate everyone and fitness was also an issue as Esprit hadn't played for 3 weeks since the "Pikey-Gate" game. A new formation was put to the test, a 4-2-3-1 formation in order to give the midfield a breather in preparation for their long morning. Esprit started well for 10 minutes but then St. Augustines Reserves started to dominate. As their first team came to watch their amigos as their game had been called off, it looked like Esprit were the away side as they were outnumbered three to one.
Dan Burton was the busier of the two keepers and pulled off some great saves, including a masterful double save at his near post, but even he could do nothing about the Saint's goal. Dave Alexander lost his man and was also out of position at the far post as his player tucked in goal side and riffled in from an acute angle. Half time and Esprit were a goal down. Off came poor Dave who had a nightmare first half and Ogs in a tactical move as Runo shuffled his players into a more attacking formation of 4-4-2 and on came striker Wale and youngster Rob. It almost paid off as Esprit piled on the pressure with Gareth Foot coming close to his 60th for the club. Saint's keeper was in top form as he registered a clean sheet and helped his side to a 1-0 win. It most probably should have been a draw but thats the way the cookie crumbles. Man of the match Mr. Burton
Roll on Match Two and Esprit started with different personel giving some of the players a rest. Esprit came out of the blocks and put St. Augustines on the back foot. Plenty of good football from both sides but no goal mouth action in the first half. Ogs had a half chance and Wale wasted his runs by running to the flanks with the ball instead of being more direct. Daniel "Jack" Parker played in midfield for long periods of the game but was taken off at half time to rest him for next week's game as he tired. 0-0 and after another tactical change, Mr. Foot came on at the back in place of Mr. Lewis who was struggling with a knock.
Esprit started positively for the final 30 mins of the day and once Dave Alexander was introduced he played like a man with a mission for making up for his earlier mistake in the first game. Once the ball was played into him he set up skipper Neg who volleyed the ball into the top corner. An outstanding team move, starting from the left. It was a sweet moment for Neg who was playing his first full game since his injury nightmare. His third of the season and put him third in the goalscoring charts which explains the problems Esprit has been facing this season. Esprit were 1-0 up, and only had to hold on for 10 minutes, but this season has been full of bad luck so it wasnt a great shock when Esprit conceded another penalty. Three this season and all from the unfortunate Gary Murphy. This time the ball bounced and hit his hand on the edge of the area. Nick Hanson got his hand to it but failed to keep it out after a brave dive. St. Augustines Captain Pikard lookalike scored fromthe spot. It looked like it would end 1-1, but in the last minute a corner found Ricky Blanks and his header hit the crossbar. So another draw for Esprit, their eighth this season, which is an Esprit record.
So a point out of a possible six was disappointing but it was a great double game to be involved in and the attitude from both sides was a credit to the Corinthian League. If only more games were like this.
Danny Burton, Gary Murphy, Daniel Yeo, Phil Lewis, Daniel Parker, Neg Dupree (c) Olgun Gokdemir, Hakeem Kuku, Dave Alexander, Ricky Blanks, Gareth Foot.
Subs Used : Wale Oshiyemi, Rob Hurst, Runo Gokdemir
Nick Hanson, Gary Murphy, Daniel Yeo, Phil Lewis, Daniel Parker, Neg Dupree (c) Olgun Gokdemir, Hakeem Kuku, Rob Hurst, Ricky Blanks, Wale Oshiyemi.
Subs Used: Gareth Foot, Runo Gokdemir, Dave Alexander