AFC Bluebirds is a five-a-side team made up of players from across Westminster. The team are proudly sponsored by Conservative Home.
By Andy Johnson
On the back of three league wins on the bounce, AFC Bluebirds went into Sunday’s game against bottom of the league HSFC full of confidence, only to concede two early goals before battling back to edge a scrappy game 3-2. The march up the league table continues.
Ahead of the game we had, somewhat cockily, predicted an easy win. Naturally, we went 2-0 down within the first 20 minutes. I would be lying if I said this was against the run of play. We were playing badly; really badly. Their first came from a poorly defended corner; their second the result of five minutes of solid pressure. Despite clearing the ball off our line, we failed to charge down a speculative edge of the area shot that managed to loop in over the unfortunately Joe Cawley.
Cue a tactical switch to shore up the midfield and give a bit more aerial presence to the defence. The ever-solid Ed Winfield dropped out of midfield and into the heart of defence, his natural position, while I moved the other way with orders to sit in front of the back four. Gradually, we started to take the game to the opposition. With half-time fast approaching, our Steven Gerrard equivalent box-to-box midfielder, Jeff McConnell, popped up with his first goal for the club – a cracking header – to make it 1-2.
After the half time chat, rub down and general shout the second half was much, much better. Both Will McCann and Geoff Taunton-Collins were back to their rampaging best down either wing. The equaliser came from the latter’s marauding run and delicate cut back for the ever present McConnell to grab a second and immediately jump up to third on the AFC Bluebirds scoring charts (McCann: 16; Rees: 4; McConnell: 2).
The winner came from some classic route one football: Cawley punted it up field, McCann ran onto it, ran rings around their right back, hugged the touchline and cannoned the ball off of their unfortunate centre half (I’ve been there, I sympathise) for a heart-breaking own goal/winner.
At 3-2 and with only five minutes to go HSFC launched continuous all out assaults to grab a deserved equaliser. It was backs against the wall stuff and with 30 seconds left of an extended injury time we almost undid all our great work. Camped out in our area, a snap shot produced a wonderful parry from Cawley, who then charged out to claim the ball only for one of their players to get there first and shield the ball. What happened next can only be described as a bear hug/assault in the area. A cast iron penalty whichever way you look at it…unless you are the ref! Unbelievably he didn’t give it and we held on for the win.
Lucky? Yes. Deserved? On the whole, yes. It wasn’t a pretty game, and it certainly wasn’t fun to watch (serially-injured-but-always-turns-up-to-shout-from-the-sidelines Kevin Evans can attest to that), but we battled back to record a fourth straight win.