April 2007 : First Away Win
Esprit marked their first away win in TWO years against Astra at Clayhall Park. Esprit had never won at this venue against Astra in four visits and made up for the loss earleir in the season when Astra marked their first win at Hainualt Rec. Esprit had a deplicted squad going into this game, namely missing some attacking players including Ricky Blanks who up to now had a 100% attendence record, but Astra were down to their bare bones. Esprit kicked off going with the wind which helped the purple boys camp inside the Astra half.
Murphy and Lewis pumped the ball into the midfield at every given opportunity as midfielders, skipper Neg and midfield lynchpin Greenhill controlled the pace of the game. Kuks was wide right, enjoying the ball as the wind favoured his wide whilst poor Olgun was on the left in an unfamliar role waiting for the wind to change direction. The first 15 minutes belonged solely Esprit as Gareth Foot and Dave Alexander saw a lot of the ball. First blood fell to Esprit as the ball fell kindly to Gareth in the box and he volleyed sweetly past the Astra keeper for his 60th goal for the club. Astra rarely troubled but they did have a one-on-one as the Ray Parlour lookalike forced a save against Burton.
The rest of the half was a dull affair as Esprit played route one long balls and lost possession far too easily. It was easily done considering the wind but at half time the players needed reminding of passing the ball on the deck and into space. Esprit played the second half in much better form, even though they were aginst the wind. Ogs and Yeo came into the game more and Kuks was largely quiet vocally as he concentrated on his game, giving some telling crosses. Phil Lewis, newly awarded his testimontial trophy as a Platinuim Player ran up the right and after playing a one-two had a shot tipped over. A rare moment from the Ginger One. A double subsitution saw Hill and Bull come onto the flanks and they kept it simple and the play was even more fluid. A ball was played into Foot who used his pace for the first time in his career as he ran from the halfway line, into the box. It was clear he was then too tired to shoot as he was tacked down. Penalty which was duly put away by Foot for his and Esprit's second of the game. Astra were then forced to attack the last 10 minutes or so of the game and Esprit defended superbly to mark their first competitive clean sheet of the season. A credit to the defence.
Esprit had pulled of a shock by beating in-form cup finalist Astra. However the main shock of the day was Romhill recorded their first win of the season with a 1-0 win over May and Bakers. A clean sheet and points. Just as Esprit thought they were out of the hole, they are dragged back in. Nevertheless a welcoming win, amazing what can happen when players put their minds to it. Next up champions- elect Valentines as we welcome them and soem of our old boys to Hainault Rec for possible the last time.
Danny Burton, Gary Murphy, Daniel Yeo, Phil Lewis, Daniel Parker, Neg Dupree (c) Olgun Gokdemir, Stuart Greenhill, Hakeem Kuku, Dave Alexander, Gareth Foot.
Subs Used : Darren Bull, Paul Hill, Runo Gokdemir