The thought of having a week where we lost the Wix Cup and crashed out of the league was just too much. The league was going to be our last chance for silverware. And as much as we tried to remain positive, we were up against a side that had either won their mini-league, or came a close second. What if they were as strong as Pirton Hill? What if they were stronger?
All we could do was have a game plan, try to stick to it try our best and hope for the best.
To set the scene, our pitch looked quite nice - what with its freshly painted lines and everything. But looks can be deceiving. The overnight and morning rain had not, and was not draining away. It was going to be match where quality passing football would have to make way for some trench warfare.
While we were waiting for the other side to arrive, we had a quick bit of penalty practice. It was good to see the boys laughing about taking spot kicks - no one seemed to be scarred from their experiences in the final. What became apparent straight away was how badly the field was cutting up just standing on it. The pitch was going to be a nightmare.
Anyhoo, the other side arrived, both teams warmed up and the match began. Oh, one early point of note was that St Bart's only turned up with seven players - enough for a starting lineup but without any subs to offer fresh legs. I had a sneaking suspicion that our three subs would play an important role in how the match would pan out...
Almost immediately, we put them under some real pressure, which was odd because I really expected the opening moments to be tighter than tight. Most of the play was in their half and their defence looked a bit wobbly in places.
A cracking shot from Ethan was parried by their 'keeper and Dieago gobbled up the rebound. 1-0. It was no more than we deserved and put a real stamp of authority on the game. Dieago then doubled our lead soon after with strike from the edge of the box which found its way into the bottom corner. It is safe to say that the match was not unfolding as I had expected; it was just like I had dreamed, but not expected.
As has happened in the past, a bit of complacency kicked in as the half went on. The thought of scoring goals for fun began to fill our minds. A few too many players stayed up front after an attack and a large hole opened up in our defence. Their striker ran through, controlled the ball well and smashed it home. This was just before the half time whistle and meant that St Paul's left the field with their tails up. All of our dominance and only one goal's advantage to show for it!
The half time team talk was the usual - praise for what had been successful, but another basic reminder of roles and of effort. The pitch was as bad as expected, but we were striving to play proper passing football.
Thankfully, the second half was as comfortable as it gets. Dieago nipped in behind their defence to extend our lead and complete his hat trick. Kyle made it 4-1 by blasting the ball in from distance, as if the goalie wasn't even there. And Dieago scored again to make it 5. All the while, Danny was very solid in our goal mopping up through balls and making some solid saves.
Not wishing to sound in any way smug, but it could have been a lot more. There was so much space to exploit in the last ten minutes, but 5-1 it finished. There's something comforting to know that we can win an important game and know that we have at least another gear to find if needs be.
The semi final is next Friday (23rd) away at Broadfield school - when the emotional wringer starts up all over again.