Lupi di Londra 1-4 PASALB FC
All roads led to Rotherhithe on Sunday night, where PASALB FC completed the double over AS Roma supporters to go top of the APFSCIL League. Tom ‘Wilkins’ Watkins was once again the matchwinner, with his second brace of the season against the same opponents (they call him the PASALB Asterix, because he’s always smashing the Romans).
From the kick-off, our opponents were once again quick to invoke the rhetorical traditions of their home city. When PASALB appealed for an early foul throw, the Roma captain’s response took all in earshot back to Cato or Cicero addressing the senate in the heyday of the Roman Republic: ‘Fack off-a, you a bunch of facking caaants.’
But on a wide pitch with a 3G playing surface as smooth as the customer experience at RHP Pipeline Services Ltd, Roma were a different proposition to the rather ordinary side we had previously dismissed 3-1. They enjoyed the first goalscoring chance of the game as their powerful centre forward burst through the defence. It took a fine diving save from Langworth to keep the scores level.
That set the tone for most of the first half, with the back four of Lancaster, Richards, Kidd and Brown working hard to contain the surging runs and Spanish step-overs of the same centre forward. Prout and Noble were everywhere in midfield, breaking up Roma’s neat possession football.
With 5 minutes to half time, the possibility of going into the break with any sort of advantage, let alone a two-goal cushion, seemed remote. But then some aggressive pressing in the Roma half won the ball and a looping cross from Clark dropped into the penalty area. Watkins outmuscled the defender to get on the end of it and fire home from inside the six-yard box.
We forced a corner straight from the kick off and Cassidy’s cross had too much pace for the keeper. The goalmouth scramble resulting from his initial fumble was concluded by Prout, whose curling shot from the edge of the area was again helped into the goal by the unfortunate keeper.
Roma weren’t giving up, and reduced the deficit early in the second half, with a lightning quick breakaway from another corner. They then missed a chance to make it 2-2 when the centre forward went round Langworth but, to his eternal pity, delayed his shot too long and the combination of the tight angle and the covering defenders proved insurmountable.
Moments later, however, an equaliser seemed inevitable, when a penalty was awarded following a fulsome challenge by Brown. The die was cast and the Roma captain (substituted at half time) strutted onto the pitch triumphantly, like a conquering Emperor taking the acclaim of his subjects. This time, however, the haughty Caesar was sent scrambling back up the banks of the Rubicon with his Eagle standard dragging between his legs. The penalty went sailing over and our slender advantage was maintained. Langworth’s yellow card for kicking the ball away following the award of the spot kick now seemed incidental.
Roma continued to press, and Cassidy also went into the book for a well-judged foul on the edge of our box. But PASALB were lifted and began to menace on the break. When a Watkins header was saved on the goal line, our opponents failed to read the necessary entrails. Hildyard cut inside and out on the right wing then sent over a booming cross that the keeper again failed to hold. Clark, the prodigal son returning to the fold, was on hand to fire home.
In the last minute, pressing from Willacy and Prout again won the ball in a dangerous area. As Prout was hacked down, most PASALB players screamed for a foul. But the gallant midfielder pressed on and slipped the ball through for Watkins, who went round the keeper to cap a superb team effort with our fourth goal.
Team: Langworth, Lancaster, Brown, Kidd, Richards (Willacy), Hildyard, Prout, Noble, Cassidy (Mumford), Clark (Disco), Watkins
Goals: Watkins (2), Prout, Clark
Assists: Clark, Cassidy, Hildyard, Prout
Yellow card: Langworth, Cassidy